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Recent Reviews

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Featured Books


Chicago Stories


Crimes of the Levee
by John Sturgeon
Black Rose Writing

"Father Luigi taught me endlessly about right and wrong and I understand that, but I slip now and then."

It's 1905 and First Ward detective Patrick Moses, along with his partner Gunter Krause, witness the hanging of a serial killer, Simon Kluge, who had terrorized prostitutes, primarily from Chicago's promiscuous Levee District. Unlike many detective mysteries, Sturgeon does an exceptional job revealing the character of Patrick Moses, the man, the lover, the detective, and the experiences that made him. Abandoned at birth, Moses is taken in by the Holy Trinity Church and raised by Pastor Luigi, a father, friend, and confidante. Whether irony or coincidence, happy and peaceful endeavors are short lived in Moses's life. He has hardly completed the Kluge case when he is assigned not one, but two cases: the hunt for Isabella Rossini... (read more)

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Your Real Face


by Gerald Neufeld
Novel Voices Press Inc.

"Do you have any idea at all what a person wants most whose face causes people to gawk and stare? Do You? It's to be able to walk around unnoticed..."

Jenny, who works programming computers to talk to people, has no idea that her life is about to become a nightmare, that she will lose half her face in a freak auto crash, and will be one of the people who needs the machines she has helped design. Transplant, written by Dr. Gerald Neufeld, a former professor of linguistics, centers on the traumatic loss of identity through the loss of one's face, a rare occurrence, but one that raises many important psychological, ethical, and medical questions. Wearing a gauzy veil that allows her to see out but prevents others from seeing her grotesque deformity, and speaking through a computerized device, Jenny becomes increasingly depressed and disassociated, an enigma to those around her. ... (read more)

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For the Love of Africa


Flying Snakes and Green Turtles: Tanzania Up Close
by Evelyn Voigt
General Store Publishing House

"Geoff was so upset... seeing the wounded animals and the tranquility of the idyllic African scene split apart by shots, that he said he would never want to shoot animals again."

English couple Geoff and Vicky Fox have given their lives to Tanzania—to wild animal preservation and the country's fight against AIDS. Their story, told by Evelyn Voigt, describes young love, lush landscapes, safaris, sickness, danger, and determination. Geoff came to Tanzania to work for Brooke Bond Tea Company. When Vicky visited and married him, together they fell in love with Africa. Their children were born there, and there was never any real question that they would stay, even as other expatriates bolted in the turbulent independence struggles of the 1960s. They have run a charming hotel/wildlife safari service for many years and provide assistance to AIDS orphans and AIDS-affected families. ... (read more)

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Forrest Spencer on the Case


Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt: A Forrest Spencer Novel, Book 1
by Gerald Neufeld
Novel Voices Press Inc.

"Miguel flinched. The object the guy held was unquestionably a gun, pointed at his face. Metallic clicks signaled that the man was about to fire."

Legal thrillers have captivated readers since the era of pulp magazines when emerging attorney-turned-author Erle Stanley Gardner first created the iconic Perry Mason. Writers like John Grisham, Steve Martini, and Scott Turow have kept the tradition alive with numerous bestsellers, capitalizing on their own law careers to write realistic courtroom dramas. Neufeld, a professor of linguistics and psychology has no such advantage, yet he proves himself fully capable of keeping up with the professionals in his suspenseful and entertaining entry into the genre. ... (read more)

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Life in the New World


Winyah Bay
by David Maring

"But the bay belongs to no one. Even the present inhabitants will one day disappear, but the bay will remain and always be a magnet to the human species."

A sweeping historical novel tracing the vast assortment of groups that discovered and settled the South Carolina coast from 1000 CE to the mid-sixteenth century, Winyah Bay couples historical research with speculation into the personal lives of both real and imaginary figures. ... The first in a planned trilogy that will incorporate the state's history through the Civil Rights era, the book opens with a surprising archeological discovery—a Viking artifact, lending credence to the theory that European settlers had preceded the Indian migration from the Bering Strait. Using this as an introduction, Maring explores a variety of early residents in the area of the Winyah Bay: fish people, Vikings, Welsh, Spanish, and British. ... (read more)

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Journey of a Lifetime


Crossing the Borderline
by Jennifer Khoh
Purple Leaf Publishing

"I figured that even if I hadn't died back at the border or in a raid gone wrong in Afghanistan, I was going to now, because the bandits were close by somewhere, and the day was going to be over in minutes."

One day in early February Jennifer's mother announces they will be leaving England for Australia, an unexpected and unconventional idea. It takes a wild turn when she tells her family of two daughters and her second husband, that they will travel most of the way there in an older VW camping van. Seeing Europe, Asia, and the Mideast through the eyes of a nine-year-old, during a more innocent and less hostile time, is quite a contrast to present day where there is much turmoil and danger for countrymen and Anglo travelers. ... (read more)

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Spencer and the Child Market


Stolen Child: A Forrest Spencer Novel, Book 2
by Gerald Neufeld
Novel Voices Press Inc,

"I've never gotten over Divinity's disappearance. The police, the FBI, they all think Divie's dead but I know different. It's just something a mother knows."

At the center of Gerald Neufeld's second book in the Forrest Spencer series, we meet Divinity Parker, aka Anna, an extraordinarily beautiful young girl adopted by Norm and Lena Henderson. The loving, professional couple is attempting to reconcile the hurt of losing their own child in a tragic incident incurred while vacationing in Mexico. Despite a period of adjustment, Norm soon sees his wife's heartbroken spirit revived and realizes the kindred connection between Lena and Anna. ... (read more)

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A Haunting Past


Saving the Innocents
by Randall Kenneth Drake

"The box dropped to the ground, and came to rest in the mud puddle along the side of the road. She whispered. 'Daddy?... Daddy? What about me?'"

The world is filled with hurting adults who were damaged as children, although most of them have learned to successfully hide their pain from those around them. Many are victims of abuse, neglect, or abandonment who have learned to cope in society but have never completely healed on the inside. Mary Jane, the heroine of Drake's gripping digital novel, remains deeply wounded from when her father left her behind at a circus when she was four years old. However, instead of being weakened by the experience, she has become stronger. Now as an adult, she is driven by two things: first, a desire to help others she encounters who are helpless or suffering and, second, to somehow find the father who deserted her so many years ago. ... (read more)

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Cancer & Redemption


In the Mirror
by Kaira Rouda
Real You Publishing Group

"Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed."

The literature on cancer is extensive, mostly scientific, and sometimes autobiographical. Few novels, Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper comes to mind, shed light on the affect cancer has, not only on the individual, but also the family, friends, coworkers, and all involved. Kaira Rouda's In the Mirror tells the story of Jennifer Wells Benson, a woman who had been living the American Dream with two kids, a loving husband, and a beautiful home; however, her world is turned upside down when she is diagnosed with cancer and is moved to Shady Valley, a "last-ditch experimental facility for the sick and dying." More than anything else, In the Mirror is a unique, first-hand account of how disease ravages one's entire life, all the way down to one's self esteem and self-efficacy. ... (read more)

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