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How to Live a More Purposeful Life

It's Time to Start Living with Passion!: My Journey to Self Discovery - Jean Paul Paulynice

It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery uses author Jean Paul Paulynice's own progression to delineate a route to better living. This autobiographical journey offers its readers an admonition about standing still in a dissatisfying life. This book is filled with insightful reflections on pitfalls, progressions, and the kinds of realizations one gains only from hard knocks in life.


This short, accessible read chronicles a hard-working family man's expectation that his efforts would translate to happiness and contentment and, after numerous struggles, the realization that this anticipation of rich rewards would not be seen to fruition without some attitude adjustments and a deep look within.


Why was Jean Paul working so hard at a 9-5 job while staring into an abyss of frustration and depression? He realized he needed "work that didn’t feel like work." Locating that passionate calling became his motivator for many adjustments towards living a more passionate life.


Readers will find a chronicle of a life-affirming journey and real-world examples of the processes of gaining insight, identity, and purpose. Those readers who are “stuck” may have pursued this goal again and again, only to find themselves at the same starting point. Jean Paul has "been there and done that," and his story promises the invaluable rewards of a successful pursuit.


His descriptions make very good points about adjusting one's life to allow the kind of time suitable for reflection and discovery and adjusting one’s perspective so that happiness can be allowed in.  Many of the truths revealed may come as a surprise in that they clearly delineate passion from other (sometimes worthy) pursuits.


Synthesizing autobiographical examples with wider psychological, social, and philosophical observations about finding happiness in daily living is not easy to do, especially in fewer than 100 pages, but Paulynice does it perfectly.

This book provides a very lively, readable, and inspiring account that is accessible to audiences who usually eschew weighty self-help reads. This roadmap to success circumvents the common problems of effecting lasting change and produces real results.

A Startling Examination of the Death Penalty, Guilt, and Innocence

The Deprived: Innocent On Death Row - Steffen Hou

True crime readers with a special interest in death row proceedings will especially appreciate the premise and developments in The Deprived: Innocent on Death Row, which collects the experiences of 10 Americans affected by wrongful convictions and the death penalty.


From what it's like to be on death row when innocent to how wrongful convictions happen, Steffen Hou goes beyond adopting a singular set of interview questions about experience to consider wider-ranging issues, from risks based on color, gender, and age to the circumstances surrounding evidence and convictions.


Since June 1790, almost 16,000 Americans have been executed. Modern support has waned for the death penalty in America, but many still feel it is a suitable punishment for murder. No matter what side of the issue the reader is on, Hou surveys many intriguing facts, from its financial burden to how many people have been exonerated from death row upon evidence of their innocence.


The heart of The Deprived lies not in a rehash of social debates around the death penalty's legality and issues, but on the personal toll it exacts from those involved, from family members who live with condemnation despite being good people themselves to how the innocent who have been wrongly convicted survive the violent, harsh atmosphere of prison.


Hou's intention is to personalize the death row experience from many different angles and to document just how innocent people become wrongfully convicted. His approach is more of a close examination of the justice system's failures than it is a social examination of the death penalty's validity. Even more eye-opening are numerous passages about those exonerated, who must live the rest of their lives with the badge of having been viewed as a dangerous criminal, with questions about the validity of their guilt or innocence continuing to impede their progress, test their families, and impact their lives.


Take the case of Nick Yarris, for one example: a long-time Pennsylvania inmate who spent over 20 years on death row before DNA absolved him of a heinous crime. Hou followed Yarris for four years after his release from prison, convinced that "...if one exonerated prisoner was to restore his life, it would be him."


Could anything be more challenging than life on Death Row with the likes of Ted Bundy in the cell beside you? Yes: release. The chapter 'Please Kill Me' covering his case, release, and ongoing challenges is a powerful testimony to a life that was ironically marked by crime and forever changed by accusations of two big crimes which he did not commit.


Lawmakers, justices of the court, and anyone concerned with the overall impact of the death penalty and its place in the criminal justice system will find The Deprived hard-hitting, with an unusual ability to juxtapose personal experience with bigger-picture thinking.


No debate or close examination of American justice or the death penalty would be complete without this highly recommended consideration of the many issues the death penalty ripples into society. Crafted on the shoulders of personal experience, this approach holds far more impact than any scholarly analysis could ever have achieved.

Easy Yoga for Desk-Bound Workers!

Yoga for Writers: Quick and Easy Fitness at Your Computer  - Taylore Daniel

Yoga for Writers: Quick and Easy Fitness at Your Computer addresses a common complaint among not just writers, but those who have desk jobs: the lack of activity and the concurrent dearth of time that lead to an inability to perform typical yoga or exercise regimens.


Taylore Daniel has crafted an alternative that leaves little room for either excuse: a series of yoga exercises that can be inserted into a busy sit-down day at computer or desk.


Daniel observes that "more and more of our lives are automated" and notes not only that "...there’s a paradox at work, because the more 'ease' we have in our lives, the more 'dis-ease' we have in our bodies," but that "According to recent studies, 'Sitting is the new smoking.' That is, it wreaks absolute havoc on our health."

With these thoughts in mind, all desk-bound individuals (not just writers) should keep Yoga for Writers close at hand. It offers an alternative that is easy, achievable, and requires no special time commitment, exercise equipment, or prior yoga savvy in order to prove accessible.


Chapters offer not only the anticipated step-by-step written instructions, but include a handy line drawing of the pose being described and introduce each with a "Why do it?" exploration of the pose's benefits.


60-second "micro-break" instructions offer additional instruction on duration, while a peppering of quotes from doctors and professionals reinforce health ideas.


The routines are organized by chapter heading covering health purpose and yoga stance, from 'Visual Agility' to 'Windmill', and each makes the most of 60-second "micro-breaks" that not only improve health, but supercharge the writer or worker's creative impulse.


The result is a book that can be used by any reader, but which is especially recommended for those who want to expand the notion of 'break time' to include productive revitalization.

Hugh Hefner's Lasting Influence on America

Playboy's Hugh Hefner: Empire of Skin - Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince

Playboy's Hugh Hefner: Empire of Skin offers an approach to understanding Playboy icon Hefner that goes beyond the empire he built to consider his lasting impact on sexuality in America, delving into his approaches to entertainment and male privilege (among many other considerations of his life and influence).


Readers must throw out any preconceived notions about what a Hefner biography would look like in order to consider the multifaceted approach of Playboy's Hugh Hefner: Empire of Skin because it toes the line between a gossip piece and a broader inspection of Hefner's authority.


It should also be mentioned that this is no light piece. Over five hundred pages of facts about Hefner are culled from some 50 years of research from a former bureau chief and entertainment reporter at the Miami Herald. Playboy's Hugh Hefner contains a satisfying blend of factual reporting and discussions of affairs, Playboy politics, and Hefner's psyche, motivations, influences, and ambitions.


Readers who want to learn more about either Hefner or the Playboy empire's evolution, and who like their facts couched in a gossipy tone of drama to create compelling insights and reading, will relish Playboy's Hugh Hefner, and won't consider its length to be daunting.


Black and white photos of people, places, and memorabilia abound, complimenting and breaking up text and providing a fine visual embellishment to interviews and Hefner's own perceptions of himself.


The result is spicy, revealing, fact-based, and compelling: the kind of reveal read that appears weighty and daunting, but proves to be accessible, involving, and hard to put down. Playboy's Hugh Hefner is highly recommended reading for anyone who would learn more about Hefner, his world, and his times.

A Humorous Story of Great Ambitions

To Squeeze a Prairie Dog - Scott Semegran
  1. D. Wiswall is the newest clerk in a pool of state government workers. He learns of competition among peers for a $10,000 prize for developing a cost-saving program to improve the government's budget and their own lives. Their developing team is on track to win, but when J.D.'s bumbling alcoholic supervisor accidentally stumbles on a multimillion-dollar cost-savings suggestion, problems begin.


Governor Bennett is a politician who will stop at nothing to stoke his ego; even if it means throwing the personal lives and quirks of his clerks into the public eye. When a snoopy reporter threatens the clerks' ability to claim a prize that will change their lives, sparks erupt in this quirky, fun spoof about ambition, success, dirty little secrets, and social and political oddballs.


The book's title, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog, already indicates that the tale will be extraordinary, and readers will quickly realize that the multifaceted account isn't just a romp through political ambition and smarmy individuals. It's about a group of oddballs with ambitions to move beyond their set financial, social, and career courses to achieve greater goals, and it pairs a healthy dose of wry humor and insights with a realistic story of interactions between very different colleagues who are thrown together to evolve to something greater than their clerical roles.


Satire and comedic observation are juxtaposed with acts of connection in a story that excels in portraying not just great ambitions, but small acts of kindness: "I wish there was something more I could do to bring joy to all of us besides cookin’,” she said. Seeing smiles on her coworkers’ faces did bring her immense joy."


From creative brainstorming over the grand prize to the things everyone feels compelled to do to get ahead, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog isn't just about sacrifice and ambition, but about the costs of success and the challenges of remaining creatively quirky in a world replete with economic, social and political challenges and goal-seekers.


Fun, ironic acronyms and jokes illustrate real efforts to bond, support one another, and survive against secrets and revelations about how the world really operates. To Squeeze a Prairie Dog paints a rollicking story that careens through the office structure to delve into the motivations, lives, and connections between ordinary individuals.


Readers seeking an uplifting, fun story of fortune, friendship, and fame will find To Squeeze a Prairie Dog juxtaposes a range of viewpoints and ironic situations designed to leave readers both entertained and thoughtful. This tale comes full-circle to provide a satisfying spoof on political ambitions while commenting on personal achievement and ideals of success.

A High-Octane YA Paranormal Thriller!

Dickensen Academy - Christine Grabowski

Dickensen Academy is a young adult paranormal story that holds the power to reach out and grab not only protagonist Autumn Mattison, but her readers, as it opens with her first impression of one of the big dreams of her life, and a looming puzzle. Autumn's first day at the exclusive Dickensen Academy introduces a bizarre secret that none of the new students sees just yet.


Besides her impression of the physical academy's setting, Autumn experiences a secondary certainty: somehow, she's been on this campus before. But, that's impossible. Or, is it?


As she tries out for cross-country and seeks to expand her horizons, 15-year-old Autumn seems on the brink of achieving much, but she keeps feeling something is wrong; especially when one of her courses turns from a predictable study to incorporating Dream Management into its curriculum, leading students on a discussion that introduces Autumn to some uncomfortable realizations.

As the 'why' behind the 'how' becomes more and more apparent, Autumn and her classmates face some of the biggest decisions of their lives. From her struggles with her parents over her grades and objectives at Dickensen to persistent nightmares and dreams that spill into daily reality, the events, people, and secrets at Dickensen are about to take over.

Amidst all this, Autumn is finding herself and discovering the true strengths of attending Dickensen.


Young adults who enjoy boarding school stories, paranormal encounters, and stories of growth of a teen who receives lessons on romance, mistakes, and special abilities will find much to like about Dickensen Academy, an institution which specializes in making dreams come true in more than one way.


Autumn's first-person character is nicely done and inviting, and the world of Dickensen with all of its conundrums and confusion comes to life through her eyes, making for a story that is hard to put down.

A Warm Puppy Picture Book Story About Inclusion And Acceptance

Puppy Pickup Day - April Henry

Eight engaging labradoodle puppies wake up to greet the day in April M. Cox's engaging picture book story of a special day when all the puppies expect to get a new home. 


They are fed, groomed, and play, but one little pup, smaller than his siblings, is rejected. As the rollicking rhyme follows the fun and games, young readers can't help but be concerned about one little outcast who falls off the puppy slide, is too small to play tag, and gets lost too easily. 


As the countdown begins, teaching numbers to young animal lovers, the last little puppy begins to wonder if getting a new home is something else he's going to miss out on. He's become lost (on Puppy Pickup Day, no less), but his friendly nature leads to help from unexpected places, and after his siblings are picked by new families, he discovers something important about courage and finding his place in the world even though he's a runt who can't do what his siblings enjoy. 


A variety of messages are wound into this fun-loving story of a little puppy's adventure: counting, colorful fun, lessons on friendship and helping, and embracing new experiences. Illustrator Len Smith's oversized, colorful panels are a huge draw to an equally-strong, uplifting story line that will delight young picture book readers and their read-aloud parents. He's a former Disney & Hanna-Barbara illustrator, and so his background is perfect for translating the story into large-sized, exceptionally colorful characters designed to provide eye-catching excitement and action to enhance the story's visual appeal. Each panel is packed with not just vivid colors and playful action, but emotion as the little puppy moves through his choices and considers his options. Not only the puppy's emotions are involved: readers will find their heartstrings similarly pulled as the story visually 'pops' with excitement. 

Bollywood Invasion - Ricardo Alexanders

The opening pages of Bollywood Invasion present what first appears to be an ordinary story of John Palmieri, a Brooklyn boy who is leading an average life until he's hit by a bus and awakens in another body as Raj Scindia, a prince living in India in 1958. He's suddenly wealthy, privileged, and living quite a different life from modern-day Brooklyn. Only his intense love for The Beatles has survived his transformation as he adapts to an entirely new culture and timeline; and it's that love which will lead to further changes because it's one he can't leave behind, in his old life. 


Driven by the possibilities of love and making a positive impact on his world, he finds the lyrics of the Beatles continue to direct his life, even though in this incarnation, they never existed. And when his choices bring everything he loves crashing into disaster ten years later, these songs and the values they instill in his new identity may be the only thing to link the former John's persona with Raj's struggle to survive. 


It would be all too easy to say that Bollywood Invasion is a timeslip novel that centers around a boy's struggle to regain his position and former world; but in actuality it's a saga of a struggle for identity that assumes a special level of complexity when two personas clash and their owner becomes lost between them. 


Is he living a lie, or dreaming? Which world is real; and which is his choice? As Raj becomes the incarnation of John Lennon in another place and time, bringing the messages of his future self into the past where they are received and interpreted with much enthusiasm and gusto, he also faces many conundrums, such as two women who love him and the dilemma of one of them being promised to another.

His reincarnation of the music of the 'Beetos' in this timestream leads to many changes as Ricardo Alexanders provides a satisfying focus on love, fame, complicated situations, and the values of Indian girls and the men who pursue them. 


The result is a complex and vivid story that leads Raj/John around the world and across time, probing the unexpected consequences of coming full circle with a story that challenges not only the protagonist's true identity, but the circumstances surrounding John Lennon's life, death, and own incongruities (“You wrote songs imagining no possessions but have millions of dollars and properties everywhere.”). 


Readers looking for timeslip sagas that go beyond the usual focus on finding a way back to finding the path to one's identity will relish the very different perspectives that make Bollywood Invasion an engrossing saga that excels in unexpected turns of plot. 

Dark Humor and Comic Con Action!

Battle at the Comic Expo - Richard Andreoli

Battle at the Comic Expo's audience is difficult to easily peg: take dark satirical humor, blend in action/thriller sci-fi elements, and add the specter of a comic convention threatened by forces of evil that move from comic pages into reality and from a zany romp into a world replete with dangerously obsessed fangirls and explosive, emotionally complex relationships. But somehow author Richard Andreoli makes all of this work in his fascinating, dramatic and chaotic novel.


In the story, Ron Lionel has created a blockbuster comic series - The Enduring - that is a monster hit.  He is hugely popular (and arrogant) but far less successful is his approach to life, which involves manipulating others to get what he wants. Nonetheless, Ron is realizing his dreams. Joe, in contrast, has long ago given up on his artistic ambitions and just lives to get by. His role as Security Chief at the comic book expo gets him close enough to his goal of supporting justice and fighting for the right side.


When these worlds collide, they do so with a bang that's heralded by an obsessed fan searching for answers Ron can't quite provide.


Readers familiar with comic convention culture and proceedings will quickly recognize all the trappings of a real convention in Andreoli's dark, satirical production. He is clearly familiar with this realm and its quirky, passionate participants (he worked as a marketing writer at Comic-Con for years), and this knowledge imbibes Battle at the Comic Expo's events with a real-world grittiness and humor.


References to this world (Dark Horse Comics, new ventures and industry partnerships) juxtapose with the passions of notoriously believable quirky fans to make for a vivid read that will be especially spot-on to anyone who has attended one of these conventions.


Another notable feature of Battle at the Comic Expo lies in its ability to take this bizarre-but-predictable setting and turn it on edge with larger-than-life events that are both mind-blowing and satisfying in their details. A fan's warped vision of what should be in the comics world may be the very force that destroys it, with only an egotist and a stalwart security guard standing between devastation and despair and the ultimate survival of the largest comic expo in America.


Can fangirl Velma discern between right and wrong? Can Joe prevent murder? And can he and Ron tap into Velma's obsession with Ron's fantasy world to draw her into different choices than the disaster she is careening towards.


Ron and Joe aren't friends; but they're about to share some of the same interests in a conjoined quest for survival not only of themselves, but the comic world that supports them both.


Take a highly successful egotist's irresistible fantasy creation, add a justice-believing outsider's quest to prevent disaster on his watch, and mix in underlying questions about good and evil, reality and fantasy, and good intentions gone awry for a powerful, multifaceted story that toes the line between fantasy, detective piece and comic world exposé. 


Replete with tension, action, and anxiety, Battle at the Comic Expo's injection of dark humor permeates a gripping story that excels in the unexpected while remaining firmly based in comic culture. Readers will relish its ability to teleport at warp speed between various genres while retaining a sense of originality and drama that makes the story vivid, unpredictable, and nearly impossible to put down.


A Powerful Women's Literary Read

Electric IMPULSE: Love, Life & Sex - Angel Hilson

Electric IMPULSE: Love, Life & Sex is Book One introducing an adult romance series and Aria Davenport, who believes her life is on a set trajectory to a predictable course of college, marriage to her beau, and a happily-ever-after conclusion. Unfortunately, life has a way of thwarting even the best-laid plans, as Aria discovers when her fiancée dumps her the day before her college graduation just as she's on the cusp of realizing all her dreams.


Sent into a tailspin over the sudden derailing of her careful objectives, Aria is hurt, confused, and ripe for exploitation. As the savvy, clever, secretive businessman Phoenix catches the eye of this fiery beauty and decides to make her part of his own plans for success, Aria finds her hormones are on fire. Both are consumed by a passion for sex and success that drives them together in a burst of flames that both justifies the title Electric IMPULSE and sets the stage for a rollicking ride through love, lust, success, failure, and everything in between.


The ideal reader of Electric IMPULSE won't be stymied or put off by graphic sexual descriptions or the ribald explorations of a young woman who finds her world has shut down unexpectedly; then opened up in new ways. Crushing disappointment neatly sets the scene for something far from Aria's intentions or knowledge, and while there is a good degree of give-and-take and some manipulation and special interests at stake; also present is the kind of growth opportunity and exploration that sets the stage for confronting childhood issues and adult perceptions.


Aria's growth takes place not just in the sexual arena but in her maturity level as she embarks on a journey she could never have predicted, jump-starting a stagnant love life with a relationship she can barely define as 'love', much less the kind of lifestyle she'd envisioned as being her original goal.


To call this story a 'romance' alone would be to do it a disservice; though a powerful romantic overlay contributes to the story's appeal. Even though lust, sexual encounters, and love are part of Aria's story, just as compelling is the account of how she changes her relationships to the men and women in her life and how she evolves new insights and perspectives about life (whether for good or bad) based on her encounters and observations with Phoenix.


Descriptions of these moments are astute and clear, marking the points where Aria learns about herself, Phoenix, values, and approaches to business and life.


Electric IMPULSE is a pointed journey of self-discovery in which Aria lets go of her perception that her worth lies in her relationship with a man and embarks on a hunt for what is truly of value to her world. She initially doesn't know what she's getting into with Phoenix, but things are just starting to make sense. Readers who follow her journey will find it thought-provokingly vivid and filled with confrontation, reflection, observation, and the kinds of questions that lead to new beginnings, empowerment, and growth both for the protagonist and, possibly, for her followers.


Women interested in contemporary blends of literary, psychological, and social reflection will find plenty to like about Ari and Electric IMPULSE, a story of how empowerment and self-realization actually begin.

A Riveting Blend of Thriller and Sci-Fi

Transmission - Morgan Rice

Book 1 of the Invasion Chronicles represents a departure for fantasy series writer Morgan Rice, who here places her affinity for fantasy in the adjacent realm of science fiction. 


The story opens with teen Kevin's growing struggles with visions and paralyzing headaches: a condition that's been diagnosed as a degenerative brain disorder, but which actually proves to be something quite different. 


Kevin's visions initially involve a strange string of numbers; but as he begins to also see planets, a burning sun, and a kind of countdown, he eventually comes to realize that his condition and hallucinations are much more than a physical death sentence. They're actually a transmission from an unknown extraterrestrial entity and they portend a danger only Kevin may be able to address. 


Kevin knows about sci-fi and realizes that in the movies, important people would quickly recognize the value of his experiences. But, he's only thirteen. How can he convince the adults around him—including his mother—that he is experiencing something more than a brain malfunction's final hallucinations? 


As a psychiatrist helps him think differently about his visions and disease and various options for coping with both, Kevin is provided with the kinds of tools that lead him to a number of well-kept secrets right on his home planet; from hidden bunkers and military projects to scientists, government concerns, and a conundrum for the world which arises when Kevin dares to talk about aliens on TV. 


Suddenly the secret's out, and Kevin finds himself in the middle of a series of dilemmas that will affect Earth's future and humanity's choices. 


One strength in Transmission lies in a plot which at first seems familiar (boy discovers alien invasion, child becomes a key to events as they unfold), but takes some unexpected diversions into areas of international intrigue, adding thriller elements that are surprising in a sci-fi story that will reach adults as much as young adult audiences. 


These journeys into other countries and other concerns add depth and surprising dimensions into a story that many readers will anticipate as a standard alien invasion plot, offering an approach that juxtaposes a boy's deadly illness with his equally challenging new abilities. 


In presenting the key character as an unusually savvy 13-year-old, Morgan Rice is in danger of having this survey regulated to teen audiences alone; and that would be a shame. Although Kevin's age is one of the facets that enters into his ability to perceive what others cannot and his flexibility to accept the impossible, his unusual wisdom and involvements with adult affairs from NASA to confrontations in Columbia hint of a maturity level far beyond a thirteen-year-old's abilities. This makes the story quite accessible to adult sci-fi thriller readers who might not ordinarily pick up a read featuring a teen protagonist. 


The deeper issues of honor, faith, and questionable alien intentions are neatly woven into a young boy's quickly-evolving personality as readers find themselves engrossed in an unexpected series of events once the initial platform of an incurable illness and impossible visions is presented in the opening chapters. The pleasure here is that an aura of predictability is crafted; then turned upside down, which creates an atmosphere of surprise not typical in most sci-fi alien invasion tales. 


Morgan Rice is a series writer. This means that, like her other productions, Transmission is not only the first in a series; but ends in a cliffhanger that leaves outcomes questionable and begs for continuation. 


Riveting, unexpected, and firmly rooted in strong psychological profiles backed with thriller and sci-fi elements: what more could readers wish for? (Just the quick publication of Book Two, Arrival.) 

Poetry for Reflection, Inspiration and Transformation

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief - Diamante Lavendar

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief gathers Diamante Lavendar's own insights on how she charted a path through grief, and pairs free verse poems that double as uplifting admonitions ("There is so much more/To every instance/Than we can comprehend.") with prose and the author's lovely color art images. 


From illusions of darkness and separation to the realities of harboring false beliefs and following the road to healing, Lavendar's verse and insights follow the process of not only recovery; but finding the kind of empathy and understanding from the healing process that strengthens other connections in life. 


The juxtaposition of nature-oriented images and art with these admonitions lends a visual touch to the written word that enhances both with a structure and reinforcement that either alone could not have achieved. 


Those who will benefit most from Lavendar's approach are readers who are seeking their own paths to healing and greater enlightenment, who can accept her candid assessments of what the process of grieving leads to ("Death is not an ending but a beginning to a different reality, not only/for the bereaved but also for those who have passed into eternity."). 


This audience will relish the message of Lavendar's art and words and will discover not just a quiet comfort offered within the pages of Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief, but a broader message that holds clues to finding strength from weakness and ultimately transforming grief into a growth experience. 


Readers interested in finding opportunities from the great of adversities will keep Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief close at hand for reflection, inspiration, and ultimately transformation. 

An Action-Packed Equine DNA Mystery

Blood Horse - Chris Thomas

Stories featuring horses usually revolve around racetracks or young adult infatuations with equines; but Blood Horse is a horse of another color. Its sci-fi revolves around an experimental DNA treatment intended to promote healing from an injury, but which actually supercharges the killer instinct.

In a horse? Read on, because horse action doesn't get any more gripping than this.

The story begins in a familiar way: a teen jockey's horse fails a jump and breaks a leg. Usually this is where the story would become one of a teen's love for her broken steed and her ability to heal it; but Blood Horse takes a different turn when high-tech is applied as a solution and seemingly produces a miracle.

As Christopher Thomas follows the evolution of a mild-mannered, beloved family horse into a killing machine, readers receive a slow build-up into the inevitable that takes a nice turn away from the specter of a girl's love for her horse and moves into the realm of a well-meaning scientific experiment gone awry.

Interestingly, the main characters are young adults, which would seem to peg this read as one recommended for this age group were it not for the Cujo-like horror involved in the horse's altered personality. This means that mature teens to adult readers alike will appreciate the story's premises and direction, finding it an accessible read driven as much by the teens' evolving personalities and relationships as by the story of a DNA experiment gone wrong. (Caveat: there are enough adult themes and references here to keep this from being recommendable for teens below the age of 17. Blood Horse decidedly stands on the cusp of mature teen to new adult and adult readers - and this is a fine audience for it.)

As Sammy runs away during his ongoing evolutionary process, Tina follows, and readers receive a gripping story that offers satisfying changes as she comes to realize her former best friend is deeply changing on psychological and physical levels alike.

Involving and dark, Blood Horse holds adventure and a message and will keep its readers thoroughly on board for a vigorous ride holding plenty of surprises right up to its unexpected ending.

The Dynamic Story of a Dynamic Duo!

Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds: Princess Leia & Unsinkable Tammy in Hell (Blood Moon's Babylon Series) - Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince

Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds: Princess Leia & Unsinkable Tammy in Hell represents the first in-depth biography of the mother-daughter duo, and is especially recommended for prior fans of either woman, who will find this survey replete with new information, scandals, and colorful insights.


Black and white vintage photos liberally pepper a series of revelations which assume the high drama and attraction of hot Hollywood gossip, but with an overlay of truth that attends to revealing not only the lives of and connections between Fisher and Reynolds, but their overall, lasting impact on Hollywood and pop culture alike.


It's rare that a survey of much-publicized icons offers unique perspectives and new information, but Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds does so in a sweeping, thoroughly engrossing manner that will give their fans new insights and perspectives.


While no Hollywood library should be without this authoritative coverage, it should also be mentioned that despite its volume (over six hundred pages of detail), it's quite accessible to those with relatively little prior information about the duo, who will find that the length of the volume in no way precludes its value as both a serious study and an attractive leisure read.

A Dark Noir Sci-Fi Satire!

Thrilling Times - Robert Rubenstein

Thrilling Times combines a dark noir detective piece with a psychological drama replete with elements of literary and political satire; and while the effort sometimes proves a challenge to neatly categorize for genre-specific marketing purposes, it cultivates a dark sense of entertainment and angst.


On the surface, this is the story of a detective recovering from electro-shock therapy who is on a mission to find the girl who landed him in trouble. However, this is no light pursuit. Thrilling Times presents graphic metaphorical sexual scenes, violence, a talented female photographer's penchant for depicting realistic terror in her 'galleries of the gruesome', and evolving relationships between men, women, and those who would obtain power over one another.


All this is woven into a complex backdrop of social inspection and accusation, the creation of masterpieces of depravity, terror and horror, and sizzling scenes designed to agitate reader sensibilities as they follow a murky, complex world and characters who can barely navigate their lives; much less each other.


Hidden within the overlay of a detective piece are a series of literary and social reflections that force readers to wade through scenarios of depravity and dark characters in survival mode to navigate the trajectories of love and its high price.


There are characters willing to die for love and possession as well as moments of passion intertwined with graphic displays of depravity, juxtaposed with sweet scenes that each demonstrate Robert Rubenstein's prowess at crafting metaphor and analysis.


The language is as much a draw in the story line as its characters and their special purposes, immersing readers in a mercurial adventure story that moves from political jest and social inspection to the dilemma of the personal with an 'everyman' lost in illusions surrounding the pursuit of love and connections.


From the two-sided nature of modern culture to the setting of post-apocalyptic America and its fractured society, Thrilling Times continually challenges its readers with thought-provoking clashes of reason, psyche, and social and political structure. It is especially recommended for literary audiences who like their stories steeped in metaphorical yet explicit sexual encounters tempered with satiric and pointed observations of social and individual condition. Thrilling times, indeed!

A Memoir of Family Ties and Loss

Missing Persons: A Memoir - Gayle Greene Ph.D

Missing Persons: A Memoir comes from one who becomes the last in her family after she loses her aunt and then her mother, facing the rigors of caring for a dying person at home and the ongoing feelings of loss that comes from their recent deaths and the prior demise of her younger brother and her father. 


Gayle Greene was forced to confront basic questions of her values and journey in life as she lived through her mother and aunt's final days and a year's aftermath of being without them and without family ties. 


The result is a hard-hitting account of one woman's adjustments and survival tactics that takes into account the broader issues of death, dying, and family heritage. Missing Persons is recommended for anyone who enjoys memoirs about family connections, loss, and disconnections.