Weather Report, May 16

 

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD

One of the goals of Snowflakes in a Blizzard is to establish long-term relationships with  writers.

After all, unlike J.D. Salinger or Harper Lee, most authors don’t reach literary immortality with their first book — so they keep trying. Or maybe they just love the craft of writing, or have a need to exorcise some of those story ideas rattling around in their head.

We featured 144 writers over the previous year, and most of them have other books to offer. This week, Snowflakes will feature three — “Fallen,” by Melinda Inman, “Swinging on rhe Garden Gate,” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, and “A Red, Red Rose,” by Susan Coryell.

“FALLEN,” BY MELINDA INMAN

Almost all authors believe in their books, but Melinda went to extremes in getting “Fallen” published with Koehler Books, a hybrid company. In order to come up with her share of the cost, she posted the book as a potential project on Kickstarter, and it went down to the wire — she finally topped her goal on the final day.

Like Susan Coryell’s “A Red, Red Rose,” this book is actually a prequel to another featured on Snowflakes — Melinda’s “Refuge.” Her specialty is taking some of the earlier Biblical stories and using her fertile imagination to put human faces on the main players  — in this case, Cain and Abel.

Fallen describes how the first humans tumbled from grace when “Lucifer’s deceptive brilliance tricks them into disobeying God. They eat the one forbidden fruit. Their innocence is shattered. Their unity with one another and with God is destroyed. Death will follow. Lucifer’s jealousy threatens mankind’s tenuous beginning. But God is merciful. What astonishing promise does He make? How will Adam and Eve survive – broken, shattered, and separated from God? Is there any hope?”

“SWINGING ON THE GARDEN GATE,” BY ELIZABETH JARRETT ANDREW.

Elizabeth shows her versatility here, following a novel, Hannah Delivers, with a memoir.

In Swinging on the Garden Gate, she skillfully and seamlessly weaves the threads of spirituality, sexuality and the creative process out of the compelling events of her life. The spark of spirit she finds embedded in her body she also discovers throughout the solid matter of life — in childhood, in nature, in encounters with death and loss and wild growth. Her exploration of the sacred is vivid, fresh, and grounded in the details of ordinary days.

“A RED, RED ROSE,” BY SUSAN CORYELL.

This is the first in Susan’s Southern Gothic Overhome trilogy. Beneath the Stones, previously featured on Snowflakes, was the second.

When 20-year-old Ashby Overton travels to Overhome Estate in Southern Virginia for the summer, she hopes to unearth her ancestral roots and the cause of a mysterious family rift surrounding the horseback riding death of her Grandmother Lenore many years ago.

From the moment she enters her room in the oldest wing, Ashby feels an invisible, enfolding presence. She learns the room belonged to a woman named Rosabelle, but no one is willing to talk about Rosabelle—no one except Luke, the stable boy who captures her heart. As Ashby and Luke become closer, she realizes he can be the confidant she needs to share the terrifying, unfolding secrets.

Ever present is a force Ashby never sees, only feels. Candles light themselves, notes from an old lullaby fall from the ceiling, the radio tunes itself each day. And roses, always meant for Ashby, appear in the unlikeliest places. Are the roses a symbol of love, or do they represent something dark, something deep and evil?

 

 

Snowflakes Past, 1-48

 

WE FEATURED A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING DURING OUR FIRST YEAR, FROM DARK TO LIGHT, FROM FICTION TO NON-FICTION, FROM BOOKS FROM MAJOR PUBLISHERS TO INDIE SURPRISES, FROM INSPIRATIONAL TO QUIRKY. OUR AUTHORS CAME FROM ALL OVER THE U.S. AND ALL OVER THE WORLD, VETERANS AND NEWBIES ALIKE.

HERE’S A LIST OF OUR FIRST 144 BOOKS, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE, DOLED OUT IN THREE SEGMENTS. IF YOU WANT TO READ THE ENTIRE FEATURED POST, SIMPLY CLICK ON THAT AUTHOR’S NAME ON THE AUTHOR PAGE.

WE’LL CONTINUE TO KEEP YOU GUESSING IN THE YEAR TO COME.

1. “Island Dogs,” by Brian Simpson. The starting point is a fantasy common to many of us — leave the unfulfilling job, the bills, the neighbors, the lawn that needs cutting and flee to the Caribbean, where life is supposedly like a year-around cruise. Of course, this quintet of likable ex-pats soon learn that hanging out in Da Limin Hut won’t solve their problems, just deaden them. 


2.  “Waiting for Westmoreland,” by John Maberry. Maberry’s book comes along at a time of close examination and myriad reflections on the Vietnam War — 50 years since the first insertion of U.S. combat troops into the conflict, 40 years since the American exit. At such benchmark anniversaries, long-buried memories tend to percolate back to the surface. As “Waiting for Westmoreland” reminds us, these memories are different for every participant.

3.  “Death of a Cabman,” by Nina Boyd. Beginning this book is like slipping into a warm, comfortable bath. Then, after she spends some time familiarizing you with her main characters, Boyd turns the heat up a bit. The murder victim isn’t exactly mourned by the community,. and most of the suspects are anything but solid citizens. Yet unlike the edgy sleuths who stalk through mystery novels these days, Constable Fred Clough and amateur detectives Ethel and Amelia come across not only as human, but eminently likable.  A murder gives the book its title, but Boyd also slips in a lot of period history so deftly that it’s painless. A wonderful book to curl up with on a rainy day.

4. “The River Caught Sunlight,” by Katie Andraski. If you like Barbara Brown Taylor’s lyrical prose, you might enjoy the descriptions in The River Caught Sunlight. If you are curious about Frank Schaeffer’s early years as a rabble rousing firebrand you might be interested in reading this novel. If you question Evangelicalism’s part in the culture wars, you might want find insights in this book.

5. “What To Do About Mama?” by Barbara Trainin Blank. Fifty-four million Americans already serve as unpaid caregivers to family members, and that number is likely to grow as the population continues to age. Two-thirds of these caregivers are women — many of them in the ‘sandwich generation,’ simultaneously caring for both children and older family members. This book is based on the real-life experiences of the authors and other caregivers who have openly and honestly shared their joys and heartaches. It isn’t a book by “experts,” but by people in the trenches.

6. “Turnstiles,”by Andrea Raine. Martin Sourdough is a homeless person who has chosen to turn his back on the corporate, material world; Willis Hancocks Jr. is a barrister, an alcoholic philanderer, and a misogynist; and Evelyn (aka Yvonne) is a prostitute. Turnstiles speaks to these social problems through the smaller scope of each character’s individual trials. There is a struggle that exists between the need to serve one’s own needs and the expectation to participate in the larger social scheme. Martin and Willis are both trying to fit into the world, but on their own terms. They are naïve, searching for an Eden-like state of being. Through a broader experience of personal fortune, misfortune, travel, and social interactions, they each learn to accept their path and take control of their own destinies.

7.  “Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie. Betrayal is a dark, gritty, thought-provoking and hard-hitting novel. It addresses problems of how sexual abuse can be neglected or shelved away. The main character, Helen looks at herself as a survivor of abuse but a victim of others’ betrayal. Sexual abuse is always a difficult subject and rightly or wrongly, Helen addresses the issue.If you liked Stieg Larson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Betrayal might be a good choice.

8.  “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Brown. There is a little of Hunter S. Thompson in Joshua Samuel Brown’s writing, a pinch of P.J. O’Rourke, maybe even a dash of “Gulliver’s Travels.” For unlike many travel writers who draw back and write about exotic places from a safe and contemplative distance, Brown plunges right in, experiencing the good, the bad and the inedible. Ever wonder how you can tell the difference between good and not-so-good dog meat soup in Korea? Did you know that Beijing has a ghetto inhabited primarily by Muslims? Brown is counterculture savvy, technologically wired and, to some degree, able to converse in Mandarin. Yet through all 19 of these traveler’s tales, he never forgets who he is — a bewildered outsider.

9.  “CAUGHT,” by Deirdre Thurston. CAUGHT is a collection of stories that explore the deeper human themes: expectation, desire, loss, hope, fear, joy, redemption. While the collection as a whole is relentlessly empathic, each retelling is colourful and sharp; here acidic and humorous, there bittersweet with pathos. In this era of increasing social disconnection – in which technology is replacing intimacy and life occurs at a pace that challenges our ability to stop, observe and interpret our own existence and its relationship with those around us – CAUGHT’S celebration of the everyday experience offers nourishment for the harried soul.

10. “Thirty Perfect Days” by Claudia Taller. In 30 Perfect Days, Finding Abundance in Ordinary Life, a spiritual memoir, author Claudia Taller allows the reader to go into her personal world to find the perfect moments that ultimately define our lives. 30 Perfect Days, Finding Abundance in Ordinary Life is a quest to live in the moment, make connections, and pay attention to what life has to offer. Through daily reflection, Taller deals with life’s surface obstacles with honesty and authenticity to gain insight into the patterns behind the problems

11. “Downfall,” by Deborah Teller Scott. The fun here, besides Scott’s delightful cast of eccentric characters, is the mental exercise of sorting out the killer among them. In the process, she manages to make some subtle points about the undeniable intersection of crime, the media, and the popular culture of Great Britain.

12.Boiling Point,” by Karen Dionne. As Chaitén Volcano sleeps ..  two microbiologists monitor the effects of global warming in the shadow of the long-dormant volcano. A celebrity scientist and his film crew arrive at the caldera to capture Chaitén’s spectacular scenery for a television audience.  And a Nobel Prize-winning scientist sits in his apartment in Paris, monitoring data on fifty-six volcanoes around the world—waiting for the one sign that his diabolical plan is about to be put into motion. Soon, their destinies will converge. For the Earth has become a pawn in the biggest gamble ever played with humanity’s future. And Chatien is about to blow.

13. The Secret Corps,” by Peter Telep. When a small town home invasion results in a tragic death, retired Marine Master Sergeant James “Johnny” Johansen agonizes over questions whose answers threaten his loved ones, his career, and his company. The most serious question of all—is Johnny’s family linked to Islamic extremists in the United States? Johnny turns to Willie, Corey, and Josh—his former brothers-in-arms. Relying on their skills as highly-trained Marines, the team uncovers a treacherous plot involving a renegade defense contractor and the highest levels of a U.S. intelligence network.


14.  “When Clouds Gather,” by Ryan Jo Summers. Darby Adams has a full, happy life in Driftwood Shores with a successful Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Brass Lamplighter, and her teenage son, Matt. Until a guest is found dead in one of her rooms. Suddenly, she is the number one suspect. With her world rapidly spinning out of control, Darby desperately needs a friend. The surviving family wants answers—and prosecution—so they hire Private Investigator Sam Golden to unquestionably prove Darby’s guilt. Busy with his disobedient, willful teenage daughter, Sam still takes the case. He starts in the dual role as a sympathetic ally to Darby while searching for the evidence needed to send her to prison. It should be an easy case to close, until strange things begin happening at the B & B, Scary things.

15. “Did Ancient Chinese Explorer America?”  by Charlotte Harris Rees. A Chinese classic, the Shan Hai Jing, reportedly from 2000 BC, claimed travels to the ends of the earth. However, today many, while accepting the antiquity of this account, believe it was just mythology. But was it?Testing the hypothesis that the Shan Hai Jing described actual surveys of North America, Charlotte Harris Rees, author of books about early Chinese exploration, followed an alleged 1100 miles Chinese trek along the eastern slope of the US Rocky Mountains. The possible early Chinese connection to this area should have been easy to disprove.In the travelogue Did Ancient Chinese Explore America? Rees candidly shares her doubts then her search and discoveries. She weaves together history, subtle humor, academic studies, and many photographs to tell a compelling story.

16. Beneath the Stones,” by Susan Coryell. 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. Interfering with Ashby’s plans is a dark paranormal force that thwarts her every effort to save Overhome. Supernatural attacks emanate from an old stone cottage on the property rumored to be a slave overseer’s abode, prior to the Civil War. As the violence escalates, Ashby begins to fear for her life. Who is this angry spirit and why is his fury focused on her?

17.Black Tide Rising,” by Kelvin Singleton. When Deputy Director of the Census Bureau Evan Parker discovers that the American Census is a lie and factions of the American Government, including two presidents, have killed to keep this terrible secret in the name of national security a nationwide manhunt ensues. If this information is not contained before it can be disseminated to the American public, the threat of total anarchy looms. deceit sequestering them from American citizens and the national media. Under the white-hot gaze of a mysterious high-priest, Kaleem Kinzana, the ominous rhythm of the voodoo drums thrum across the continental U.S.

18. “Collision Course,” by Joe Broadmeadow. Collision Course is a legal thriller incorporating elements of blind political ambition, the strained relationship between the Police and the minority community arising from racial prejudices embedded within police departments, a troubled war veteran, and the taking of a human life by a police officer in the line of duty.The novel explores the human aspect of those thrust into a nightmare beyond their control. An ambitious US Attorney turns the rage of racial inequality into a platform for a run for the US Senate, perverting the Justice system and trampling over anyone in his way to succeed.

19. “Consciously Connecting,” by Holland Haiis. Learn how to disconnect from poisonous people, actively engage in the present moment, enthusiastically make time for play, and move in the direction of your goals. Consciously Connecting will reward you with a huge shift in your thinking and the way you connect to everyone and everything.

20. “Things Unsaid,” by Diana V. Paul. A family saga of three generations fighting over money and familial obligation, Things Unsaid is a tale of survival, resilience, and recovery.Jules, her sister Joanne, and her brother Andrew all grew up in the same household—but their varying views of and reactions to their experiences growing up have made them all very different people. Now, as adults with children of their own, they are all faced with the question of what to do to help their parents, who insist on maintaining the upscale lifestyle they’re accustomed to despite their mounting debts. A deft exploration of the ever-shifting covenants between parents and children, Things Unsaid is a ferocious tale of family love, dysfunction, and sense of duty over forty years.

 

21. “Think Like a Writer,” by Tom Bentley. The book’s core is how to see the world as a writer. It supplies tools to find and cultivate your writer’s voice, that unique combination of attributes—sensitivity to language, storytelling and audience—by which writers see and define the world. It discusses writing at a structural level: how words work in sentences and how sentences work in stories, moving to how to use those elements and that writer’s stance to write across genres.

22. “The Skeleton Crew,” by Deborah Halber. The Skeleton Crew 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. In America today, upwards of forty thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. These murder, suicide, and accident victims, separated from their names, are being adopted by the bizarre online world of amateur sleuths. It’s DYI/CSI.

23.The Solarbus Legacy,’ by Nicki Brandon. Farms had become dry and barren outside the city without power that had been deserted after the economic and social collapse 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.  They lived in a Cluster on the outskirts of the city.  A cruel futuristic society had formed, leaving the rest of the survivors wretched, scavenging wanderers, feared, but ignored by Solarbus Society citizens.

24. “Mercedes Wore Black,” by Andrea Brunais. After a news reporter falls victim to her daily’s downsizing, Janis Pearl Hawk becomes a “backpack journalist” supported by an environmentally oriented foundation. Her mandate is to cover the “green” candidate running for Florida governor, but her path takes a twist when the murder of a campaign worker stymies law enforcement. Investigating the murder prompts threats to her well-being and possibly her life – or has she angered other powerful people with her reporting on the gaming industry, Big Pharma and a ship-channel dredging project at Port Manatee?

25. “Homecoming,” by Kate Hasbrouck. Kerana is from a world without sin, and her people are a perfect people. Eli is a Fallen human who is trying to escape the darkness of his past. Her job is to protect the humans, and when he discovers her secret, nothing in Eden will ever be the same.

26. “Clog!” by Dan Smith. A coming of age story of a high school senior whose family has fractured and he finds himself at a new school in the isolated mountains of North Carolina. He is a good athlete, so fitting in is not a major problem. He is recruited for the nationally-prominent square dance team (winner of three national championships) because mononucleosis has decimated the squad and he adjusts well, loving the sport.

The book concentrates on Eb McCourry’s adjustment and growth in light of a number of challenges. He faces violence, pedophilia, uncertainty about his future, his first love, the poverty of his past and finds inspiration in a crusty old coach who takes him under his wing.

27. “Refuge,” by Melinda Inman. Refuge is the story of Cain, Abel, Lilith—the sister Cain desires to marry, and what happens next. It deals with sibling conflict, a relationship we would consider to be incest, fratricide, immorality, cutting, attempted suicide, revenge, and redemption.

28.Hannah, Delivered,” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. Late one night in a busy St. Paul hospital, a nurse midwife drags Hannah Larson out from behind her reception desk to assist with a birth.  When Hannah witnesses that baby tumble into the world, her secure, conventional life gets upended by a fierce desire to deliver babies.  So begins Hannah’s journey away from her comfort zone. In a midwifery apprenticeship in New Mexico, she befriends a male midwife, defends a teenage mom, and learns to trust women’s bodies, then moves back to Minnesota to start her own illicit birth  practice.  Hannah, Delivered tells the story of how inexplicable passion, buried strength, and professional skill deliver one woman from fear into a rich and risk-filled life.

29.The Last Best Thing,” by Kate Sebeny. Sam and Sarah are the elderly owners of a farm in central Iowa that turns into a private retirement community when it also becomes home to a disabled friend, a destitute neighbor and a recent retiree. Married nearly 50 years, Sam is a former lawyer suffering from congestive heart failure. But he knows there’s nothing wrong with his wife’s heart. Sarah is an ex-English teacher and a resourceful farm wife who flinches at nothing in the service of those she loves. She’s also a “murderer.” Sarah’s “victim” is a lifelong friend more full of mischief than life. He comes to spend his remaining days with Sam and Sarah when it’s clear those days are numbered by a painful degenerative bone disease. Determined to commit suicide while still physically capable of it, he bargains with Sarah to postpone his plan by extracting from her a promise to “help” him when the time comes.

30.“Showing Up,” by Eric West. Seeing Mt. Everest was Eric West’s dream. It wasn’t on his bucket list… it was his dream. In 2011, he arrived in Nepal armed with nothing more than a mindset he called Showing Up. Showing Up seemed to change his luck; the more he was present, the luckier he became. He would see Mt. Everest (and eventually go on to climb it), meet true love, and change his destiny forever, all within moments of each other. How could this possibly happen? Embedded in that question lies the simplicity and potency of Showing Up.

31.“Mad Max: Uncharted Territory,” by Betsy Ashton. After the death of her daughter in the first book of the series, Maxine “Mad Max” Davies’ new role in life, full-time grandparent raising two grandchildren, takes her into post-Katrina Mississippi, nature’s newest wasteland. While she gets used to raising children again, she also learns to live in a region where most of life’s conveniences vanished in the storm and tidal surge. She must protect her grandchildren as well as help others in this new environment. Along the way, she encounters racism, murder, modern-day slavery and child abuse.

32.”A Reaper Made,” by Liz Long. Grace is a Reaper whose life unexpectedly ended three years ago. Her mentor Tully discovers that Reaper are being kidnapped, threatening the Natural Order. When demons threaten her sister’s soul, she decides to risk everything by using magic to become temporarily human. However, it’s not just the demons and lies Grace has to unravel – it’s also the human boy who makes her laugh. Can Grace save her sister and the endangered souls? Or will Tully be forced to reap her soul when she’s desperate to reclaim the life she could’ve had?

33. “Gap Year Girl,” by Marianne Bohr. Baby Boomers married for more than 30 years dare more than the ordinary by walking away from their comfortable life to take a mid-life gap year abroad. Marianne and Joe Bohr jump off the proverbial cliff to follow a travel dream: they unload their house, sell the cars, quit their jobs and say goodbye to the US in search of adventure. They start and end their journey in France and travel through an additional 20 countries in-between.

34.“Road Gang,” by H.V. Traywick. There’s a little of Hawkeye Pierce in Bo Traywick, and hence some M*A*S*H in this memoir of an engineer crew building roads during the Vietnam War. The human face that Traywick puts on conflict is refreshing, and his mixed feelings about the conflict typical of American soldiers at the time.

35. “Sophia’s Web,” by Burl Hall. Sophia, the Spirit of Wisdom, has woven the multi-dimensional aspects of our lives—personal, relational, cultural, intellectual, scientific, philosophical, and spiritual—into a cosmic web. Burl Hall follows the thread within this web that connects his research in these fields to his personal mystical experience. In Sophia’s Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature, he takes the reader with him ever deeper into the heart of divine Wisdom. Sophia’s Web examines Burl’s individual dreams, visions, passions, and missions, in the light of Wisdom (Sophia) shared by great thinkers in all disciplines. It encourages readers to discover how they can co-create individual, planetary and universal health.

36.“Two Ways to Sunday,” by Tom Starita. Chris Marcum was a man who had everything. The perfect wife, the perfect job, and the perfect life. He was also sure his belief in God did not depend on those successes. So when an angel appeared to him on his deathbed with a challenge to prove the depths of his faith, Chris immediately accepted. Relive your life, with no recollection. This time however, without the breaks. What happens when instead of going right, you go left? What if there are no happy endings? How much can a man endure before he hits his breaking point? And what happens then?

37. Murder Across the Border,” by Richard Steinitz. Yossi Abulafia, an Israeli policeman, is on reserve army duty, and is photographing antelopes instead of watching the border. His post collapses suddenly, injuring him seriously. After recovering, he discovers that during the collapse he has unwittingly taken a picture of what appears to be a murder – on the other side of the border.  As part of his duties he meets with the Palestinian delegation and discovers a connection to the shooter in Amsterdam, and to the murder in Jordan.  A series of incidents, shootings and diplomatic activity eventually lead to the unexpected solving of the crimes.

38.”Insights From Inside,” by Tom Gerdy. Insights From Inside is a collection of letters from inmates written to young people talking about the bad decisions they made that changed their lives. It is not along the lines of Scared Straight. The inmates are simply reaching out and having a conversation about their mistakes. Following each letter there are some questions to help spur discussion.

39. Booked,” by Karen Swallow Prior. A life of books. A life of soul. Booked poignantly and humorously weaves the two, until you can’t tell one life from the other. Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte’s Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a love of story. This is a book about how books shaped one person’s heart, mind, and soul.

40.“Scandal in the Secret City,” by Diane Fanning.”Libby Clark, a gutsy Bryn Mawr graduate, is determined to find her place as a scientist in a world where women are thought better suited to housework and marriage. As the only female scientist in the top secret facility, Libby is excited to begin what she believes is important government research. She soon begins to suspect, however, that not all is as it seems. And to make matters worse, one frosty night she discovers the dead body of her roommate’s sister sprawled behind the bleachers. No one else seems to think finding the killer is important and it’s up to Libby to make sense of the situation. Aided by a band of like-minded scientists, Libby follows every possible lead until she comes to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

41. “Looking for Lydia, Looking for God,” by Patricia Dean Robertson. Looking for Lydia; Looking for God is a memoir. It is also a family saga and a cameo of life in a southern city after the Civil War. It is the mystery of a nineteenth-century woman, come from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia, the year the War ended. It is a sometimes unconventional interpretation of some very familiar Bible stories. It is, throughout, the story of the transformation of a group of women in their eighties and nineties who have come to live in an assisted living facility. They have not come there for a new lease on life, but that is exactly what they get. As you read, you will fall in love with a small group of women as they discover the Bible, each other, and themselves. This is their story.

42.Tales From a Madman’s Wife,” by Marilyn Miller Skylar. This memoir is primarily about the advertising and publishing career of my husband David Skylar. It also depicts the exciting prosperous years of the 50’s and 60’s and later, when new ideas and projects were developed following World War 2.

43. “Oklahoma Ghost Dance,” by Jeff Wilson.  Anthony Motavato’s life was shattered forever on the morning of April 19, 1995 when he lost his beautiful daughter. Unable to cope with his new reality, Anthony left town and has drifted on the lonely fringes of alcoholism in the years since the tragedy. Realizing his time is short, Anthony finally returns home to face the family he left behind. As he tries to regain his faith and make peace with the people that still love him, he is pulled into the tapestry of lies surrounding the deadliest act of domestic terrorism on United States soil. The only way he can find the forgiveness he seeks is by reliving it all over again. Oklahoma Ghost Dance takes you into the darkest places of imagination. From a plot born within the ashes of the Waco massacre, it slowly untangles historic events surrounding the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. Jeff Wilson, author of the highly acclaimed novel, Queen Anne’s Revenge, weaves a haunting story of love, heartbreak and redemption.

44.Whispers in the Attic,” by Cheryl Alsippi. Life for Claire Swenson is good. She is a college girl with a wonderful boyfriend, a job, and a new roommate. It’s all a girl could want—until the moment she first sees the beautiful young woman with auburn hair and oddly out-of-date clothing standing outside of her apartment building. Whispers in the Attic unfolds with the delicacy of soft, dense fog creeping in from the sea. Claire, though perplexed by the sight of the young woman—whom no one else seems to notice—has never given serious thought to the supernatural. Even growing up near Salem, Massachusetts, with its witch trial legacy failed to interest her in the paranormal in any serious way. But something has been unleashed and now forces are coming to bear upon Claire that she will not be able to resist.

45.“The Burgundy Briefcase,” by Roberta Burton. After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?

47. “Banana Sandwich,” by Steve Bargdill. Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic.  She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

48.Echoes From the Other Land,” by Ava Homa. These haunting stories beautifully evoke the oppressive lives of modern women in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anis, a computer programmer, is at the end of her rope, putting up with the bullying criticism of a no-good, unemployed lout of a husband; Azar is a young divorcee, and the only person she can talk to is Reza; but she can see him only late at night when “they” are not around; Sharmin has Down’s syndrome and hopelessly loves Azad; he loves Kazhal, beautiful and blessed; but Kazhal is married off and is divorced at twenty and now awaits a hopeless future . . . For these and other characters the weight of traditional attitudes, the harassment of the religious establishment make for a frustrating, confining, and sometimes unlivable existence.

Snowflakes Past, 49-95

49. “Into Shadow,” by Tara Shields. Into Shadow looks at what the world could be like in another 200 years. There are high points (incredible advances in technology)… and low points (cities in ruins after years of world wars and climate change). It’s 2259 and the entire planet has been changed by the melting of the polar ice sheets. Many countries banded together for protection and power, including the former countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America, which are now collectively known as the North American Alliance. The North American Alliance is led by President Walker: a war hero, a widower, and a father. His nineteen-year-old daughter Poppy serves as First Lady until she finds herself caught in the middle of a government takeover and dodging assassins. She is forced to go on the run and is completely on her own for the first time. Hiding from the assassins and robotic soldiers (mechs) who want to eliminate her.

50. “Chase,” by Sydney Scrogham. Lauren is about to lose her horse, Emblem. In an attempt to keep her animal, she pursues an escaped bright-red horse for a ten thousand dollar award. That’s when she disappears into Agalrae, another realm, and faces Chase, a man who thinks like a horse and hasn’t met another person before.

51. The Rivergrass Legacy,” by John Chaplick. Set in the Rivergrass area near the Florida Everglades, this riveting novel holds the reader on edge from start to finish. What begins as a routine business acquisition analysis of a tropical fish hatchery turns into the discovery of a money-laundering plot. Sole heir to the Concord Industries fortune, Grant Abbot Lonsdale III finds himself trapped between a vicious Colombian drug cartel and the hatchery’s owners who refuse to acknowledge his findings. While he struggles to reconcile his New England mindset with a rural Southern culture, Grant is haunted by the mistake he made years before when he yielded to parental pressure and rejected Sarah Jane Jankovic, his true love from the slums of South Boston. The Rivergrass Legacy weaves an intricate tapestry of mystery and romance that challenges Grant’s aristocratic family values and changes his life and Sarah’s.

52. “Love, Loss & Longing in the Age of Reagan,” by Iris Dorbian. Love, Loss and Longing in the Age of Reagan: Diary of a Mad Club Girl is a young adult coming of age story set in downtown New York City in the early 1980s. MTV is in its infancy, the Internet does not exist, Ronald Reagan is president and yuppies are running Wall Street. Edie is a naive NYU student desperate to lose her virginity and to experience adventure that will finally make her worldly, setting her further apart from her bland suburban roots. But in her quest to mold herself into an ideal of sophistication and cool, the New Jersey-born coed gets more than she bargained for, triggering a chain of events that will have lasting repercussions.

53. “The Other Side of the Blue Line,” by William Mark. After a heinous murder of a child, the father, also a police officer, asks his long time friend — although estranged — to help him kill the men responsible. Afraid to leave the murderers’ fate in the hands of a jury, he wants revenge. Together the pair devise a cunning and clever plan to find and execute the two men even though they are in police custody. But to pull off this vengeful plan, they must do so under the watchful eye of an unscrupulous Internal Affairs commander as well as determined homicide detectives.

54. “The Passion Thief,” by Anne McCarthy Strauss. Betty and Stan Boomer have been married for just over twenty years. Stan is a terrific guy, but he’s been married to his job longer than he’s been married to Betty. All his energy goes to his work, giving Betty a fabulous lifestyle and leaving Stan snoring upright on the couch by nine o’clock most nights. Despite her job as a freelance globe-trotting journalist, Betty feels lonely and unfulfilled. She fills the emptiness with nightly drinking. As her alcohol intake increases, she finds herself searching the Internet for her college boyfriend Michael, the proverbial one who got away. When she finds him and reaches him by email, memories of their youthful passion reignite a lust Betty thought had dried up long ago. Michael responds to Betty’s cyber message, and temptation calls.

55. “The Juno Letters,” by Larry Hewitt. Letters discovered in a tin box hidden in the foundation of a small cottage in Normandy reveal a terrible secret. Antoine Bouchard’s beautiful wife Marianne, his precious daughter Ariéle, missing. The lives of hundreds – perhaps thousands – of allied soldiers preparing to storm Juno Beach on D-Day literally are in his hands. Antoine must choose – to find Marianne and Ariéle, or face Hell even if it means he could lose his family, his only friend, and his life.

56. Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll,” by Janet Stafford. Heart, Soul & Rock n’ Roll is  the story of the growing relationship between Lindsay Mitchell and Neil Gardner. Lindsay (“Lins”) serves as an assistant minister at Church of the Epiphany in central New Jersey. She loves where she works, but upon hitting the big 4-0 begins to wonder if perhaps she might need a change. Memories of her college days leading a rock band keep pestering her. “I just want to rock out one more time before I die,” she moans to friends Patti and Sue. Patti, her former bandmate, thinks she has the cure for Lins: spend three weeks’ vacation with her at Point Pleasant Beach — where she meets Neil Gardner, who just happens to have a real rock band and likes the sound of Lins’ voice.

57.  “Discernment,” by Lacy Sereduk. When the sun is up, Johanna Parks is no different than anyone else.  When the sun goes down, that other half of Johanna’s life can only be described as what it is: a living nightmare. Johanna Parks has suffered from night terrors since she was a kid.  Hearing things go bump in the night is nothing new but, as her everyday life in the sun begins to spiral out of control, Johanna begins to lose grasp on the very things that let her know she is real.  From ghostly apparitions to violent nightmares to waking up with strangers in her bedroom, her life in the dark becomes a terrifying game of just trying to make it out alive.

58. “Shari’s Shot,” by James Ross. More excitement arrives at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis when former Mrs. Missouri, Shari Daniels-Donnelly, in a fluke twist of a bottle cap earns a chance to win $1 million at America’s greatest tournament, The Classic. Shari is among the fashionable nouveau-riche, a member of prestigious Old Blueblood Country Club and seeking excitement outside a stale union with real estate mogul, Tyler Cy Donnelly. After her high-powered and influential attorney, Leslie Potter, serves divorce papers it appears Shari is on the path to a luxurious lifestyle that includes young lovers, a multimillion dollar settlement and freedom from the balls and chains of a boring marriage. Events become complicated when a young Latin lover supplants a longtime friend who vies for Shari’s attention. Between threatening texts, arrest, jail time, confessions and a liaison with a U.S. Congresswoman, Shari’s pending divorce delivers chaos. When a lover is found shot to death in a carpool parking lot prior to a golf outing a detective duo is determined to find who fired the shot.

59. “Patchwork Man,” by Debrah Martin. Patchwork Man tells the story of top English barrister Lawrence Juste and how his life unravels when his wife is killed in a hit and run accident, but not before she’s left him a blackmail letter. The reason? Lawrence isn’t quite who he says he is – in fact, his past is murky, to say the least; not exactly what you’d expect of a man of the courts. The letter is only the start of his problems. They gradually escalate to encompass incest, betrayal and murder, and an adversary determined to make him fall as far as a man can – maybe even into his own grave.

60. “End of Men,” by C.B. Murphy. C. B. Murphy’s End of Men is a satiric tour de force about the ambiguity of identity where art intersects relationship. Inspired by The Magus, the book takes a successful Chicago couple through life-altering experiences ending on an Italian island run by a Warholian student of Aleister Crowley and his Iranian-feminist femme fatale. Adrift in midlife angst, financier Ben withholds the secrets of his wild past from his younger wife Kay. In horror at becoming a suburban “Beige,” Kay longs for her own walk on the wild side. As assistant curator of a feminist-themed outsider art exhibit, the End of Men, Kay contacts Ben’s estranged friends, the narcissistic Gordon and the exotic Shiraz, who run a film school on a Mediterranean island. Their secret is that it is a struggling place where underpaid Eurotrash produce factory art while working as grips and extras on Shiraz’s underfunded masterpieces of neo-feminist surrealism.

61. “The Big Wheel,” by Scott Arthur Jones.  Robko Zlata is careening across America, on the run with a call girl–his ex-wife– on a hot red racing bike. He stole the wrong thing, a device that can guarantee immortality. His wrathful target refuses to lose control of the world’s greatest piece of technology. Robko’s new worst enemy unlooses hundreds of his corporate security in pursuit, and asks his golden boy Thomas Steward to “follow the money” and turn up the thief by massive illegal surveillance. Thomas, morphing into his prey, becomes the most dangerous of hunters.

62. “The Other Side of Midnight,” by Karen Rivello. One prophecy, two families, one moon, two worlds; who will survive? A curse has spread across the Elvin realm of Waters Edge and only the ‘chosen one’ from the human world can stop it. One hundred years after the prophecy was foretold, on the night of the harvest moon, the small village celebrates its bountiful year never suspecting that their ancient lore was about to unfold. Though none believed, it could not stop the events from unfolding, and only a few who had been unwillingly drawn in could hope to stop the Elvin prince that had betrayed his own.

63.  “Enchanting the Swan,” by John Schwartz. A graduate student who is a classical pianist loses his ability to perform when his musical soul mate marries someone else. When her marriage crashes he risks all to renew their love for each other and for their music.

64. “Rare Atmosphere,” by Rachelle Rogers. When, at age fifty-nine, Rachelle Rogers was told in a channeled conversation about a man she didn’t know, yet felt she’d been waiting for all her life, it initiated an extraordinary six year inter-dimensional affair of the heart. The rich tapestry of events, which unfolds through ongoing conversations with angelic beings affectionately called The Dead Guys, weaves through a world of classical music, poetic inspiration, synchronistic interludes, and unexpected landscapes including Paris, Provence, and the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. In an authentic and lyrical voice, Rare Atmosphere recounts a story of passion, vision, and the courage to quest for a grander truth.

65.  “The Shark Curtain,” by Chris Scofield. Set against the changing terrain of middle-class values and the siren calls of art and puberty, The Shark Curtain invites us into Lily Asher’s wonderful, terrible world. The older of two girls growing up in suburban Portland, Oregon, in the mid-1960s, her inner life stands in quirky contrast to the loving but dysfunctional world around her. Often misunderstood by her flawed but well-intentioned parents, teenage Lily orbits their tumultuous love affair, embracing what embraces her back: the ghost of her drowned dog, a lost aunt, numbers, shoe boxes, werewolves, rituals, and stories she pens herself (including one about a miscarried sibling she dubs “Frog Boy”). With “regular” visits from a wisecracking Jesus, an affectionate but combative friendship is born—a friendship that strains Lily’s grasp of reality as much as her patience.

66. “Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth,” by Gina Roitman.Writes Gina: “In these auto-fictional stories I have mined my own experience as the daughter of Holocaust survivors through the character of Leah Smilovitz. Leah lives in a world trapped between two solitudes. She belongs neither to her parent’s painful generation nor to her own, freshly minted in the freedoms and contradictions of Montreal in the 1950s and 60s. Growing up in a community of immigrants forever bound to the past, Leah tests the boundaries of her independence, explored in nine linked stories that take the reader from Leah’s early childhood to middle age.”

67.   “Your Boss Is Not Your Mother,” by Debra Mandel. Many people experience unhappiness on the job because they continually get sucked into needless workplace drama-with co-workers, bosses, subordinates, and clients. Unknowingly, they are often playing out problems they had with their parents, siblings, or other important figures from their childhood, and they don’t have the tools to escape these traps. In the book, Your Boss Is Not Your Mother, Dr. Debra helps readers: * Transcend power struggles; * Distinguish abusive bosses or co-workers (hence, intolerable) from those who might be annoying and irritating but with whom you can learn to relate in a more constructive manner; * Develop a sense of humor about inevitable workplace stress.

68. “Sputnik Summer,” by Paul Castellani. A teenager’s testimony about a homicide rips apart an Adirondack resort town. It’s only a month into the summer of 1958, and 17-year old Kevin Boyle is already in trouble with an older girl. And a priest who’s zeroing in on Communists and degenerate books in the library is way too interested in his sex life. When he thinks nothing else can go wrong he sees his best friend’s brother shove a tourist to his death at a lakeside hangout. Or did he?  By the time the coroner’s inquest comes around, half the town thinks he’s caused the drop in tourism. The other half thinks he’s mixed up with the suspect librarian, and his friends are sure he’s sold out to the lawyer who’s dangling a college scholarship and loan to his financially-strapped parents for the right testimony. Whatever Kevin says at the inquest will change his life.

69. “Embracing the Spirit of Nature,” by Linda Shaylor Cooper. Nature spirits and Fairies have become an increasingly common topic. Embracing the Spirit of Nature will invite you into a world of magic few have experienced by sharing actual photography of Fairies, Gnomes and More. Embracing the Spirit of Nature will alter how you experience nature and how you directly impact the life in all of nature’s elements. This book will draw attention to nature spirits that have likely never been seen before that surround and support us in our daily life. This book offers a unique opportunity to view actual raw photography of Nature Spirits, dialogues with the nature spirits and ways to communicate and receive guidance from them.

70. “Fail,” by Rick Skwiot. Disgraced African-American St. Louis Police Lieutenant Carlo Gabriel wants fiercely to return to the headquarters hierarchy from which he has been exiled to the city’s tough North Side. All he needs do is track down the missing husband of the mayor’s vivacious press secretary. Instead he unwittingly and unwillingly unearths a morass of corruption, educational malpractice and greed that consigns thousands of at-risk youths to the mean streets of America’s erstwhile murder capital. Worse, it’s the kind of information that could get a cop killed. Fighting for life and his honor, Gabriel makes chilling discoveries that ultimately lead to a life-threatening and life-changing decision—a choice that could affect not only his own future but also that of the city and its top leaders.

71. “Dead in a Ditch,” by Heather Osting. Vivienne Lynn Taylor is your typical Midwestern girl.  Born and raised in small town in Ohio, the only real crime girls like her ever experience is being charged a $2.00 late fee per video per day from her local video store.  A real travesty in small town America. Vivienne has seen some dark times by being touched by unfortunate circumstances in her personal life; a daughter of a broken home with a dysfunctional abusive father as her maker. Despite that, she’s surprisingly optimistic, yet realistic with a rebel spirit…a spirit that leads her down a path that will leave her changed unlike any other she’s ever known. It all starts when she decides to immerse herself in a weekend of biker-lore fun and games, surrounded by a sea of tattoos, illicit drugs, sex, motorcycles, rock and roll, and all the things parents spend their lives trying to shield their children from.

72. Convert This,” by D.W. Finton.  Would you prefer a dead child or a gay child? This is the question raised in this fictional tale of a famous actor who is traumatized by his experience in sexual reorientation camp as a teenager. He goes on in life to experience career success but suffers with his sexual identity thus impairing his relationships.

73. “The Hysterectomy Waltz,” by Merrill Joan Gerber. A woman of forty is discovered to have an ovarian cyst, which doctors decide should be removed along with all “the rest of it” so she won’t have to return at some future time to have her sexual organs removed.

74. “Girl Without Borders,” by Katya Mills. Will is a young man with a big heart and big dreams. Intelligent, sensitive and compassionate. Determined to make a life for himself in the city. Determined to learn the code of the streets. He falls for a girl, Bella, who has a punk attitude and style all her own. In no time, she steals his heart. There is another woman, Cass who has her heart set on Will. But the love is unrequited. LIfe gets complicated, as Will gets lost in love. Danger, drama, and emotional turmoil loom on the horizon.  Generation X. Raised on punk rock, hip-hop and celebrity worship. Raised on high fructose corn-syrups. Pop and pop culture detritus. Raised on flat land, with crazy straws. Wannabe rockstars and burnouts. Follow the tale of youth who live and love large, in the shadow of the generation before them. Praying not to be reduced to culture’s blind carbon copies. Where love becomes power… with tragic consequences.

75. “Ocean City Coverup,” by Kim Kash. Euro-trash collides with American gangsta in Maryland’s gleefully cheesy beach resort. Reporter Jamie August befriends a spoiled heiress who is being pursued by Russian mobsters—and a chart-topping rap star. Meanwhile, a raging crime spree is keeping Jamie busy—and so is a hot new boyfriend and a strict jogging and frozen custard fitness plan. Action careens from OC to Dubai, from the wild shores of Assateague to a wild-west campground. Will Jamie survive to debut her fringed leopard-print bikini?

76 “Lost Sister,” by Jean Ryan. A saute cook at a Berkeley restaurant, Lorrie Rivers is weary of her job and tired of the dating circuit; she needs to make some changes in her life. More than anything, she wants to visit her estranged sister Bett, for whom she feels tremendous love—and guilt. When Ginger, Bett’s look-alike, appears, Lorrie instantly bonds with the girl and enjoys a second chance at being the older sister. But joy turns to fear as Lorrie begins to understand not only what happened in her own family, but the peril surrounding the young girl.

77. “It Happened in a Lutheran Church,” by Rebecca Moatz. Churches are often called “sanctuaries,” but the experience of Rebecca Moatz and her son was just the opposite. In “It Happened in a Lutheran Church,” she writes with heartfelt candor about how rumors about her son not only affected both their lives, but carved an ugly split in the congregation that had once nurtured them. This is a personal story, but also a cautionary tale about how churches are not immune to rumor, gossip and conflict.

78. “Rejection,” by Mark Davis. Perno Morris is desperate. After years of rejection letters and returned manuscripts, decades of frustration, disappointment and stacks of rejection letters, he decides to take matters into his own hands. After seeing super literary agent Susan McCarthy on a national talk show, where she mentioned her vacation home, and that she has a six year old daughter, Perno decides to kidnap her little girl to get his book published. Dressed as a catholic priest, Perno takes little Christine McCarthy from a McDonald’s restaurant when her babysitter went to the restroom. He is videotaped from an ATM machine camera across the street, but can only be identified as a man of clergy. The camera’s view of his car is blocked by a delivery truck, and images are not recorded. He holds her hostage in the basement of his farm house miles from town.

79. “Agnes Canon’s War,” by Deborah Lincoln. Agnes Canon’s War is the fictionalized story of my great great-grandparents’ experiences during the Civil War in Missouri. Agnes Canon is 28 and a spinster when she leaves her home in Pennsylvania in the spring of 1852. She joins a group of cousins who immigrate to frontier Holt County in northwest Missouri. There she meets and marries Jabez Robinson, a doctor who grew up in Maine and in his youth traveled to the California gold fields and the Southwest in search of adventure. In the decade before the Civil War actually breaks out, both Kansas and Missouri are a battleground of politics and acts of violence, and Agnes and Jabez are in the thick of it. This is the story of two people who watch their family, their town, everything that keeps a society civil, crumble into a chaos that they are powerless to stop.

80. “Teamster,” by Quorena Sbrocca. In the 20th century, Jimmy Hoffa was a man obsessed with power. The mob wanted him dead, and on July 30, 1975, they hired his friend to do it. But Hoffa was never murdered that night…and the mob didn’t know about time travel. Every four and five years, invisible doorways open and close. Any living being caught within the magnetic, gravitational field awakens incoherently to a future world. On July 31, 1975, it happened to Jimmy Hoffa, and he awoke in the summer of 2010. Before he could ever learn the truth of what happened that night, he was imprisoned in a facility, guarded by a team of agents. Would he ever escape to see his kids, grown and years older than he? Or would he forever remain at the will of another, stripped of all sense of a word that he once knew so well?

81. “Fairy and Blood: Lilac,” by William Crisel. This is a dark fantasy tale of a lone fairy who goes on a journey to bring balance to her world. She faces gods, beasts and the harsh environment of her world in order to do so. She puts herself directly in the path of danger in order to succeed.

81. “Someone Not Really Her Mother,” by Harriet Chessman. Hannah Pearl is a 75-year-old French woman living in assisted living on the Connecticut Shoreline in the year 2000. Although her daughter and granddaughters live nearby and visit often, Hannah is starting to forget who they are, as memories of her girlhood in France and England erupt into the surface of her American world. Having escaped France at the age of fifteen, as the Germans invaded in 1940, Hannah tries to come to terms with her own continuing life, after her family perished in the camps of Drancy and Auschwitz.

82. “Colorado Mandala,” by Brian Heffron. In the heady, hippie backdrop of Pike’s Peak, Colorado, in the tumultuous 1970s, three souls swirl together in an explosive supernova. Michael is the flinty-eyed, volatile former Green Beret, whose tour in Vietnam has left unbridgeable chasms in his psyche and secrets that can never find light. Sarah is his fair-haired paramour, the ethereal Earth Mother widow of a fallen soldier and single mother to a ten-year-old son Stuart. Paul is a young wanderer, who is drawn in by Michael and soon bears the mantle of both minister and scourge. As they are drawn together, and torn apart, each is changed forever. And our hearts race along with them, through the rocky, raw Colorado terrain amidst the blood sport of man and beast.

83. “Robin’s Blue,” by Pam Alster. Robin’s Blue, Pam Alster’s debut novel, is an epic coming-of-age story set against the disco 70’s through the Reagan-era 80’s, when divorce was the norm and casual sex and recreational drugs were ubiquitous. Robin Daniels, a runaway from a violent and emotionally desolate upper middle-class home, repeatedly navigates her world without guidance. After a failed marriage, she discounts love as an option and moves through a series of jobs and men. A futile attempt to live as a kept woman compels her to become a high-class call girl. She searches unsuccessfully through the resulting transient experiences and escalating drug use for the one lesson that will resolve her omnipresent question of purpose.

84. “Walking Over Egg Shells,” by Lucinda Clarke. This is the true story of a young girl brought up by a mother who never showed her any love. This left her an obvious target for the charismatic man she met and married, a Walter Mitty clone. For the next 25 years he took her to live in seven different countries, (mostly in Africa) often one step in front of the creditors. She went from poverty to having millions in the bank and back to poverty, before eventually meeting someone with whom she could share a more ‘normal’ life.

85. “Paisley Memories,” by Zelle Andrews. At seventeen, Tess Cooper was a high school drop-out, an orphan, and a single mom to a baby girl with Down syndrome. The next two years didn’t turn out like she thought it would. After her dad’s death, she flees Brooksville, Alabama, in his beloved 1957 Thunderbird before the red clay on his grave can settle. A year of traveling from place to place brings Tess and Paisley to the deep fried, southern town of Panacea, Florida, where her money runs out. A stranger, named Butterball, takes them in and gives Tess a job taking pictures at Wakulla Springs State Park and the annual Sopchoppy Work Grunting Festival. Afraid to trust these people, Tess plans to leave, but the T-bird is stolen and she is forced to stay. Paisley is thriving on all the attention. Tess weighs her options. Can she give her baby what she needs? Should she put down roots in this place where she has found friends? Or should she give Paisley up for adoption and head out on a life of her own?

86. “The Festival of Earthly Delights,” by Matt Dojny. What exactly is the “Festival of Taang Lôke Kwaam Banterng Sumitchanani“? It’s a 24-hour water balloon blitzkrieg, a ruthless talent competition, and an earth-scorching, take-no-prisoners bacchanalia. It’s the one day of the year when everyone has a shot at finding true love–even a rapacious, over-sexed turtle god. It’s a celebration of hobos and heartbreak, Lionel Richie impersonators and banana-brandy-flavored rice wine. It’s The Festival of Earthly Delights. Boyd Darrow is a young American living in Puchai, a tiny Southeast Asian country that tourist brochures refer to as “The Kingdom of Winks.” In a series of letters written to a mysterious recipient, Boyd tells of the delights, humiliations and brain-bending misadventures he experiences while adjusting to life in the small college town of Mai Mor.

87 “The Truth and the Life,” by Elizabeth Moore. Welcome to Cedar Mill, a late-nineteenth century industrial town in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Rachel Morris—young, outspoken, and impulsive—becomes involved in a consuming relationship with David Cranmer, her long-time friend and partner-in-crime. Set against the backdrop of a vividly-imagined historical town that is itself in the throes of major change, this relationship comes to affect Rachel and David (and all who know them) in ways that are simultaneously deeply-felt, heartbreaking and revealing.

88. “Behold the Beauty,” by Monica Sharman. Do you feel unfamiliar with the Bible and want a friendly introduction? Have you been reading the Bible for years but could use a fresh approach—or a flavorful jolt? Are you thinking of inviting a friend to read the Bible, who has never read it before? In these pages you’ll find unique ideas such as: • How to clear up confusing parts of the Bible; • How to read the Bible like a journalist, museum visitor, or doodler would; • How to find words and phrases that reveal more of God’s heart and desires. With each chapter a metaphor for Bible reading, Behold the Beauty gives a warm welcome to the pages of the Bible. Come on in!

89. “Strays,” by Jennifer Caloyeras. When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities but with the law. In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. Iris believes she is nothing like Roman, the three-legged pit bull who is struggling to overcome his own dark past, not to mention the other humans in the program. But when Roman’s life is on the line, Iris learns that counting on the help of others may be the only way to save him.

90. Faithfully Yours,” by Peggy Frezon. Heartwarming true stories about amazing animals and the people who love animals, with chapters on devotion, acceptance, compassion, guidance, and more. Meet everyday heroes, such as the husky who escaped his house in order to visit his owner in the hospital, the cat who ministered to stressed-out college students, the gorilla who protected a little boy who fell into his enclosure at the zoo, and the miniature horse who guides a blind teacher….as well as compassionate people who heal, rescue, protect, and care for animals. Faithfully Yours explore “the amazing bond between us and the animals we love” and how that bond mirrors and enhances our relationship with God. For anyone who’s ever experienced the life-altering love of–and for–a furry companion.

91. “Floyd the Dog,” by Donald Ford. The book focuses on animals the world over. These short stories were accepted for publication by Floydthedog.com out of Portugal with 7,000 book club readers in 62 countries. The purpose of writing was to cause awareness for endangered animals all over the globe.

92. “Tango: An Argentine Love Story,” by Camille Cusamano. Tango is a travel memoir, the story of a woman who loved, lost, got mad, and decided to dance. She went to Buenos Aires intending to stay three months and stayed for nearly four years. The book traces her fall from grace, hero’s journey, and ultimate transformation.

93. “Shuffle an Impulse,” by Bill Delorey.  A world-class athlete confronts the Mind Games! This gritty and fascinating journey follows the struggles of a world-class athlete resisting the brain chemistry dysfunction that provokes violent behavior. He fights for control of his mind while he trains relentlessly in pursuit of Olympic Gold. Sonny Bones awakens each morning locked in battle – good on one side, evil on the other. An imaginary voice screams in his brain while his tortured mind struggles with ethical and moral choices only he can make. “Kill a friend,” it whispers, “and we’ll release you from all this pain.”  Unable to dilute the hormone invasion that triggers rage in his mind, his life spirals downward and out of control. Homelessness, drug abuse, jail cells and treatment centers punctuate his journey. With help from a quirky Russian psychiatrist and her unique high-tech treatment plan, Sonny defies the maddening impulse to execute his friends, and never once loses sight of his goal. An extraordinary tale, illustrating one young athlete’s dedication and perseverance, and his will to win.

94. “Clemenceau’s Daughters,” by Rocky Porch Moore. Folks tend to die around Little Debbie Ballard. She struggles to make sense of a world where an unspoken past and prejudice collide, where truth is no longer as simple as Daddy’s word, and cruel intentions transcend generations. Debbie discovers the insidious legacy that haunts the women of her family one by one. Tracing the roots of Debbie’s ancestry back to pre-revolutionary France, past and present are interspersed to show how the will of a vindictive woman rots a family tree from within.

95. “Aftermath Lounge,” by Margaret McMullan. Set primarily in the small coastal town of Pass Christian, Mississippi, Aftermath Lounge is a novel-in-stories about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed 95% of Pass Christian. With a 28-foot storm surge, the highest recorded in U.S. history, 55-foot waves, and winds reaching 120 mph, the town was wiped off the map—temporarily. Calypso Editions released Aftermath Lounge on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina.

 

 


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.

Weather Report, May 9

OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “THE SILENCED,” BY JAMES DeSILVA AND “ADIRONDACK GOLD,” BY PERSIS GRANGER, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.

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One of the nice things about having your own blog is that you can be flexible.

I discovered yesterday that two of the templates I had planned to use tomorrow had formatting problems, and there wasn’t time to fix them. So, I’m putting them off a week and choosing instead to commemorate our first anniversary by running a list of all 144 books (in three segments, to avoid overkill) that we’ve featured over the past year, including a brief description.

This is intended to serve several purposes:

It’s a thank you to all the authors who have participated.

It’s a chance for blog followers to catch up on books they may have missed.

It’s a way of showing prospective Snowflakes participants the scope of what we’re doing.

Don’t forget that you can summon up the complete template for any of these books by clicking on the author’s name on the “Authors” page.

Right now I’m having a little trouble finding writers who want to participate in this project. I’ve sent out a lot of e-mails to specific authors, with no response, and that puzzles me. This service is, after all, free, and requires only a few  minutes to fill out the template. And whether a book is struggling or selling well, this still provides an opportunity for one-on-one time with a few hundred people who might not ever hear about that book otherwise.

There are some nice testimonials on the site, and as far as I know no one has ever said anything bad about us on the Internet. So I’m not really discouraged, just puzzled. Perhaps the problem is that people are so turned off by Internet scams that they automatically assume the worst of everything they receive.

Anyway, I hope all of you who are mothers were appropriately honored yesterday.

Best,

Darrell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Silenced

OUR OTHER CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOK, “ADIRONDACK GOLD,” BY PERSIS GRANGER, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE “FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY”

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THE BOOK: The Silenced.

PUBLISHED IN: Re-printed 2015

THE AUTHOR: James DeVita.

THE EDITOR: Jill Santopolo.

THE PUBLISHER: Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis MN.

SUMMARY: 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.

THE BACK STORY: I came across the story of Sophie Scholl by accident. I saw a notice on a board in a college hallway about a lecture being given, something about this a woman being arrested and executed for writing and passing out leaflets in Nazi Germany. I couldn’t shake the idea of someone being executed for putting what they thought into the written word. It struck me then how powerful language is, the written word, and free thought. The Nazis were so scared of what this young woman was writing (she was 22), that they mobilized a special task for to find her and her fellow resistance fighters, and destroy them.

I researched just about every totalitarian regime in the world, and there are elements of them all in the book. I needed only to read the newspapers to have my ideas for the day. I also read tons of collateral research: the history of the Balkans, Nazi Germany, the Hitler Youth movement, Korea, China, Columbia, and more.

The book took me a good three years to write, and just as long to get it published. It was a tough road to getting it published, but I am very pleased and flattered that the book has been reprinted by Milkweed Editions and has also made its way into many high schools in the Midwest. It is taught during Holocaust studies, often with Elie Wiesel’s Night. It is also used in some ethics classes. WHY THIS TITLE?: The book is inspired by the real exploits of Sophie School and The White Rose, a resistance group against the Nazi regime in WWII. In my research I found a quote in which someone said: once we see a wrong, we give up the right to be silent about it. If we are silent, we are complicit.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? First off I think of this as a ‘bridge’ book, suitable for mature adults as well as mature YA readers. I like to say that The Silenced was dystopian before dystopian was cool, as it was first published in 2007. What’s distinct about this novel is that the world it is set in is not science-fiction, it is not fantastical – it is a few years in our own future. A world very much like ours. Recognizable. A world which echoes the front pages of the newspapers today. It is shocking to me how timely the book is now, given the political disparities in our country today and the level of intolerance, ignorance, and hate-mongering. The book feels like it was written about today. It is also inspired by a real woman in history and real events. Those interested in history would find the real life story of Sophie Scholl fascinating.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“This is far and away the best young adult novel I have read for years. It was assigned to my daughter for 8th grade summer reading, and so I read it. And couldn’t stop. It has a marvelously vibrant and courageous young heroine, and friends who may betray or help — hard to predict. Best of all it is based on one of the most ultimately tough young women to grace this earth.” Louise Erdrich, National Book Award Winner

“The Silenced is unique…I would recommend this book to students and libraries for its unique approach and readability, and I believe it could be well used in a literature or social studies class to approach an introduction to Holocaust Education.” Elizabeth Kirkley Best Phd., Shoah Education

“This surrealistic and grim world, wherein children are recruited to spy on their parents, lobotomized resisters are turned into unquestioning guards, and painting a rose can get you murdered, is hauntingly well developed, serving as the perfect challenge for the irascible and resolute Marena.” “… compelling protagonist, terrifyingly realistic (sometimes only slightly exaggerated) setting, and gripping pace.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“James DeVita’s grim and sure-to-be-controversial novel of adolescence in a police state… excellent, though troubling, novel.” Bookpage Notable Title

AUTHOR PROFILE: James DeVita, a native of Long Island, NY, is an author, actor, and a theater director. He is a core company member and literary manager at American Players Theater, a classical repertory theater in Wisconsin. He has worked as an actor in Japan, Germany, Australia, Ireland, and around the United States; and also worked as a fisherman on Long Island for five seasons

Along with his novels, A Winsome Murder, The Silenced and Blue, Jim has also worked extensively as a playwright for young audiences. His work in the field has been acknowledged with The Distinguished Play Award from The American Alliance of Theater and Education; The Intellectual Freedom Award by the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts; the Shubert Fendrich Memorial Playwrighting Contest, and The American Alliance of Theater and Education honored his body of work with the Charlotte B. Chorpenning Award.

His adult and produced plays for the stage include: Learning to Stay, Babylon, Gift of the Magi (a musical adaptation); In Acting Shakespeare; The Desert Queen (the life of Gertrude Bell); Dickens In America; and Waiting for Vern.

Jim is also a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Fiction.

His education began as a first mate on the charter boat JIB VII out of Captree Boat Basin, NY, where he worked for five seasons. He then studied theater at Suffolk County Community College. Long Island, where he received an AS degree, then the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he received a BFA. He also attended Madison Area Technical College where he was licensed as an Emergency Medical Technician

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “When I first started researching this book (early 2000) there was talk of building a wall between our country and Mexico (a wall dividing a country is a major image in my book), there was talk of implanting rice-sized computer chips beneath out skin for medical reasons, there were arts programs being removed from schools; there was talk of the government tracking our reading habits at libraries, prisoners in China had to write daily ‘thought reports’, and many other murmurings about our privacy and freedom of speech being infringed upon, and growing intolerance of those considered to be different than us. Many of these things have come to fruition, or are still around, or are on the verge of becoming real. The book is both a cautionary tale of the dangers of indifference and intolerance, as well as story of hope. Hope of how one person, doing what is right, can change the world.”

SAMPLE CHAPTER: 1

Marena hurried down the street, past the long stretch of identical home-units, the winter air needling her awake. Outside the open perimeter gate a green YTF bus sat huffing its exhaust into the chilly morning. Marena quickened her pace, trying to zipper her coat between strides. An electric bell buzzed, and the tall gate shuttered, creaked, and began to inch its way closed. She broke into a run, waving her journey permit over her head and shouting at the blank-faced Stof in the guardhouse, “I’m here! I’m here!” He didn’t stop the gate. “Hold up. I’m right here!”

The thin doors of the bus closed, and its hulking frame clunked into gear. Marena sprinted the last few steps, scooted sideways through the gate, and held her permit up for the Stof to see.

He stared at her with dead eyes and waved her through.

The bus braked to a stop, the doors flapped open, and Marena climbed up the thick rubber steps. She pressed her hand into the digiprint which flashed blue. The driver let her pass, and she headed down the aisle.

Sitting in the front seats to her left were a couple of nukes—newly-culled kids whose parents had been recently convicted of crimes against the state. Marena knew what a joke the cullings were. All the big legal words—inherited guilt, associative responsibility, the Filial Internment Act—were just a bunch of lies made up by the Zero Tolerance Party. It was how the ZTs made it legal to arrest anyone for anything at all: wrong color, wrong religion, wrong ideas.

There were two nukes this month, and Marena nodded to them as she passed. A frightened-looking girl, about fourteen, black hair, clutching a clear plastic book bag, nodded back. The other, an older boy, looked at Marena quickly and then stared front again. Thin and freckled, he looked like he was trying to act cool, but Marena noticed his foot tapping nervously beneath the seat in front of him. She would have liked to sit with them and tell them it really wasn’t that bad, that they’d get used to things after a few months; she’d have liked to tell them which students at the youth training facility were safe and which were listeners, or who the nice instructors of public enlightenment were, or how to sneak out after curf and scavenge without getting caught, but she knew she couldn’t take the chance. It was so hard to know whom to trust that it was easier not to trust anyone.

Marena continued down the aisle. To her right, JJ-Girls—Jennifer, Heather, and Michele—stopped comparing the latest jewelry they’d scrounged and looked up. Marena turned her back to Jennifer’s whispered insults and walked past her. Behind Jennifer, Franky “Pug-face” Poyer stuck his ugly puss into the aisle. Marena pushed by him and smiled at Dex, who was in the back row, saving her a seat. Dex had been a part of her relocation group after they’d been culled from their homes and assigned to the Spring Valley Re-Dap Community.

Marena flopped bedside Dex, barely keeping the required foot of distance between them. They touched hands quickly.

“Hey,” Dex whispered, ignoring the no-talking rule. Like a ventriloquist, he and almost everyone at the YTF had learned to talk while barely moving their lips.

“Hey,” Marena whispered back, staring at the ceiling.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. Just my dad being a jerk again.”

The bus pulled away from the compound and gathered speed, skimming silently along what had once been country roads winding through the lush farmland of Spring Valley. The farms were dead now, and the roads were flat black asphalt, cutting straight across the barren fields.

Dex turned to Marena. “You get in okay last night?”

“Yeah. What about you?”

“Yeah.”

She wriggled out of her coat, leaning into Dex longer than she should have. He pressed back, and she knew he was enjoying the stolen moment of closeness.

“Wake me when we’re there,” he whispered.

Marena smiled, wondering if he felt as safe as she did when they were together. She twisted around and looked out the back window, watching the vast tracks of ruined cropland spill out behind the bus. Whatever had once thrived in the rich soil of Spring Valley was long dead. Weeds, wilted dark from the coming cold, blanketed the wasteland, and a black frost glinted under the early-morning sun.

Marena squinted at the odd beauty of it, wondering why the sun would even choose to rise on such a place as this. She tried to count the shadowy lines of old furrows ghosted beneath the weeds, but they flickered by too fast. A tree, overlooked somehow in the ravagings, still stood in one field. Scattered around its trunk lay most of its leaves, blazing in autumn reds and crimson-yellows. They looked almost fake, they were so beautiful, like someone had dumped out a box of paper cutouts. A few early flecks of snow flitted down.

A faint image came to Marena, something she’d seen before. . .White, something white. Just a glimpse, then gone. A snowman? she thought. No, no, it was moving. Clouds? She turned front, keeping an eye on the bus driver, and slid down in her seat. She snuck her hand into a hidden seam of her coat and eased out a small stapling of scrap paper she’d stolen from art class.

Dex saw the paper and shook his head. He hadn’t been sleeping at all.

Marena tapped her eyebrow twice, signaling to Dex to keep watch gave him their keep watch and then leaned over as if to tie her shoe. She slid out the small stub of a pencil she’d hidden in the cuff of her pants and, staying low behind the seatback, started to write, but the image was no longer there. She looked out the window again. Sometimes she had to trick her memories into showing themselves, cold-shoulder them a little.

It came again.

The doorbell’s ringing. It won’t stop. Footsteps on the porch. My mother walking toward the front door. They’re getting in the house. They have no faces. . .white heads. . . masked—

It’s okay, it’s okay.

It’s kids. It’s just kids. There’s laughter, my mother’s laugh. The little kids are dressed in white, dressed up like silly ghosts, holes cut out for eyes, goofy mouths drawn in Magic Marker. It’s just kids.

Marena laid her small binding of paper against her knee, pressed it flat, and wrote.

“I remember her arm above me holding open the screen door. Her dress—a tiny flower print, yellow and blue. I remember the smell of cold and the wind. Outside, the sound of dried leaves blowing. It was a holiday we used to have. . .where kids played dress-up. I had candy in my hand that I passed out to the children. Then they left, and my mother took me back inside to the living room. I knelt at the coffee table. It had a thick glass top and—”

A different memory, an uninvited one Marena knew well, cut in.

glass flashing white. . .bright, blinding white. . .explosions. . .no sound. . .blood everywhere.

She closed her eyes and tried to chase the images away.

Still she saw the blood.

She focused on the first memory again: on her mother, the dress, the flower print. Keep writing, she told herself, trying to picture her mother’s face, but all that she could see was her hair. . .

“Beautiful hair, dark and long, pooling out on the glass top of our coffee table when she wrote. But on this day, the holiday, she wasn’t writing. She was playing with me, cutting shapes out of sheets of orange paper. I had my own scissors too—blue-handled and blunted.”

Marena put the pencil down and let the memory wash over her: her mother unwrapping a new package of construction paper, clear plastic, the glint and crackle of cellophane, white glue on their fingers. She could smell the glue. She could hear the hollow flup-flup of the thick sheets of colored paper as her mother fanned them in the air. She could even feel the soft crunchy sound the scissors made as she cut out crooked silhouettes of cats and bats and—

“Hey,” Dex said, tapping Marena. “Put that away. We’re here.”

The memory vanished at his touch.

Marena hid her paper inside the seam of her coat and stuffed the pencil stub back in her cuff. She felt better. Recalling things that had happened made her feel good, like she’d accomplished something. It was one thing the ZTs couldn’t get their hands on. They had tried to erase everything or twist it into something it wasn’t. But they couldn’t touch what she kept inside her. Whatever Marena could remember was hers. Every thing of beauty, she thought, calling to mind her mother’s words, every memory of something good, is a form of resistance.

The bus idled in place within the gates of the YTF, waiting for the security sweep. A pair of black jack-boots clacked by, a Stof inspecting the underside of the bus with a mirror attached to the end of a long silver shaft. Marena pressed her forehead against the cold window and couldn’t help thinking how as a little girl she’d heard of things like this happening to other people in other countries. She’d felt so safe then, so sorry for those poor people in all those faraway places. Do they feel sorry for us now? she wondered. Is there a faraway little girl somewhere thinking, Those poor people, or is she thinking, Those people, now they know.

An electronic buzzer screeched the all-clear signal, and the bus eased through the security gate.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Arcadia Books. ( http://www.readinutopia.com/book/9781571319371 ) IndieBound ( http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780299304409 ) .

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

PRICE: $10

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: jamesdevita@gmail.com http://www.jamesdevita.com

Adirondack Gold

THE BOOK: Adirondack Gold

PUBLISHED IN: 2003

THE AUTHOR: Persis Granger

THE EDITOR: Robin Granger

THE PUBLISHER: Self (Beaver Meadow Publishing)

SUMMARY: 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.

THE BACK STORY: In the 1970s and ‘80s, my husband and I were subsistence farming on an old farm in the so”uthern Adirondacks, heating mostly with wood, growing large gardens and raising pigs, cows and chickens for family food. I thought about how much work it was for us even though using modern equipment, and marveled that farmers in the 19th century had done it – and more – with no chainsaws to cut wood, no central heat in bitter mountain winters, no freezer to store meat for the year, no tiller to turn the rocky garden soil, no pressure cooker to safely preserve meat and vegetables, no tractor or mower or baler to make hay. How did they do it? And how did they survive a serious illness or accident? I asked questions of older folks in the community, read memoirs and journals and soaked up local history. My admiration grew for those humble farm families of the past, and I wanted to share that proud history with youth of today whose roots reach deep into that tradition. I wanted them to understand the responsibility assumed by children early Adirondack family farms and to be proud of their heritage.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: Hollis is trying to find a way to raise money to help his mother so they can be reunited, and a legend of buried gold entices him to risk his life searching for it. After nearly losing his life in that futile search, he comes to understand that “treasure” has many definitions, and can be found right under one’s nose.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Adirondack Gold has fans in a wide age range. Children from 7 to 12 care about Hollis, and his adventures become their adventures. Adults, particularly senior citizens who remember the depression years in the Adirondacks, are touched by the authentic representation of life very similar to their rural childhood experiences. It’s history wrapped in an engaging story, peopled with characters with whom readers can relate.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Adirondack Gold” offers enjoyable reading, the literary equivalent of the first maple syrup of spring or the first warm breeze after sub-zero weather….Except for the opening scenes, nearly all of “Adirondack Gold” is set in the town of Thurman….Although it and the surrounding country is remote, it has inspired at least four excellent writers: Jeanne Robert Foster, Paul Schaefer, Sue Halpern and Bill McKibben. Granger’s writing, vivid and full of verve, is in a league with theirs. She has the storyteller’s knack of pulling the reader into the story. She develops strong characters and captures the essences of Adirondack places…..Careful research makes the story believable… Granger includes vignettes to show the value of a strong work ethic, strong family bonds, good communication within the family and the destructiveness of prejudice. Even though “Adirondack Gold” was written for young adults, it transcends its genre. Strong writing and research makes it highly recommended for readers of any age who are interested in the Adirondacks, 19th-century New York history or rural life. (Excerpted from a review by John Rowen published in the Schenectady NY Gazette, March 2004)

I loved them (“Adirondack Gold” and its sequel, “A Summer of Strangers”) both. I spent all my childhood summer vacations on the other side of Crane Mountain on “Coulter’s Knob” off the Garnet Lake Road. Although this was the 1930’s, our farm must have been very similar to the ones in the books. At age 81, I was taken back to my childhood and loved every minute of the story. Thanks for your excellent writing. RS

I enjoyed this book more than any other I’ve read in YEARS!!!! I was completely transformed to this period in time and enthralled with the story. The setting is the Adirondacks in the 19th Century, and the characters and scenery come to life through the author’s talented words. The Christmas scene was so powerful I cried tears of joy. I’m giving it to my eldest daughter and my wife to read. Completely thumbs up. (Amazon review) A cleverly written novel that wraps the reader in the everyday existence of rural living in upstate New York at the end of the 1800’s. Through the clear prose of the author we get to share the hopes, joys, fears, and sorrows of a young boy growing up in that environment. Younger readers should also be able to easily relate to the coming-of-age realizations of the young boy. The well defined personality studies of the characters enhance the story, and the plot progression builds to an engrossing and satisfying resolution. (Amazon review)

AUTHOR PROFILE: Persis Granger has lived in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York for over 45 years and now divides her time between Thurman, New York and Trenton, Florida. She draws on her experience in subsistence farming for this book. Her log cabin home, built from scratch by Granger and her husband, Richard, stands at the base of Crane Mountain, where this tale is set. Both Richard and daughter Laurel contributed artwork to the book, and daughter Robin provided editing. Granger studied at the College of Wooster and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, earning a BA at the latter. She went on to earn a master of science in teaching degree from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Although “Adirondack Gold” is her first work of fiction, Granger edited and coauthored “Shared Stories from Daughters of Alzheimer’s: Writing a Path to Peace” (iUniverse, March 2003). “Adirondack Gold II: A Summer of Strangers” was published in 2008 and she has a contemporary novel in progress.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.amazon.com/Adirondack-Gold-Persis-Granger/dp/0974208507/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461705304&sr=1-1&keywords=Adirondack+Gold#reader_0974208507 (This is a link to Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” – and I hope it takes you to the first page of chapter 1.)

LOCAL OUTLETS: Willows Bistro, 3749 Main St., Warrensburg, NY 12885; Some Favorite Things Gallery, 315 Old Corinth Rd, Hadley, NY 12835; Martin’s Lumber, 280 Valley Road, Thurman, NY 12885 WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: http://www.persisgranger.com/Books.htm – signature and/or message available; also, Amazon.com

PRICE: $9.95 + tax and shipping where applicable

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: PersisGranger@aol.com