While BookTrib gives coverage to well-known authors every week, our charter is to celebrate debut and emerging authors — the many lesser-known talents out there who are master wordsmiths with great stories to tell. Many are self-published, while others have found a home on small, independent presses. But what they all have in common is that they must work harder than the literary household names to find an audience.

For our reviewers and our editorial team, one of the many gifts of BookTrib is the ability to discover and share with you some marvelous works you may not otherwise ever hear about. The list of 25 books we have compiled here represents some of the best we’ve reviewed over the course of the last year (out of hundreds). There were more we could have included, but we had to cut it off somewhere — before that list becomes a book in and of itself!

You likely haven’t heard of any of these authors, but someday, we hope you and the rest of the world will know them by name. Here they are in alphabetical order.

To Hover Over Waters by Jesse Banner (W. Brand Publishing)

 Five children separately, suddenly and inexplicably become invisible to their loved ones and everyone else around the world. Thrust into their own strange existence, cut off in recognition and acknowledgment from mainstream society, they are forced to learn how to survive and cope emotionally. As they gradually discover each other in different places and in different ways, they must set their own rules, needs and values to function in a world without adult supervision or aid. But is their situation a blessing or a curse? Freedom or exile? Why did this happen? What is their purpose? Is there any crossover between the invisible childrens’ closed society and the real world? And can they ever return to the world of the visible?

“Savor this book, because discovering authors like Banner is what makes our business so exciting,” writes our reviewer. “Banner is a talented, innovative writer … [He] tinkers with this world he has created and strikes at our emotions along the way. He makes us think and consider every step along the journey.” Read the full review here.

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 Beyond Dark Waters by Des Birch

Nine-year-old Ben isn’t necessarily a bad kid. He just does things that aren’t very good. He torments his younger sister Sophie, has no regard for the property of others, and is otherwise willful and inconsiderate. While on an errand for his grandfather, Ben climbs an old oak tree by the river to carve his initials in its bark. He loses his grip, falls out of the tree and loses consciousness. When he opens his eyes, he is underwater looking up at a huge otter. Strangely, Ben is able to breathe in this new environment. So begins the boy’s transformation — both figuratively and literally. As the otter explains, he’s not just a boy, he’s a Quinling. He will live for a time as various forms of life populating the river into which he has fallen. What he experiences will force him to reckon with his previous misdeeds and change his perspective forever.

Our reviewer loves Ben’s voice as the point-of-view character: “His observations are often funny and are utterly believable coming as they do from a nine-year-old.” He also praises the book’s literary qualities, writing “it has all the trappings of a classic young adult book: imaginative situations, vivid descriptions, engaging characters, and a thought-provoking, well-developed theme.” Read the full review here.

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This Distance We Call Love by Carol Dines (Orison Books)

 Each of the stories in this collection is a powerful elbow to the gut, which leaves you eager for the next situation, the next cast of characters, the next elbow. Dines zeroes in on family, trust, marriage, fear, sex, loss, abandonment, and the strength and danger of a child’s imagination. Thirteen stories that are as different in focus as they are alike in emotional power. The hapless sister of a compassionate woman lives a life that strains the patience — the forbearance and the credulity — of everyone around her. A love triangleis juxtaposed against a family gathering. A little girl enrolled in a progressive school takes participation in her classes a little too far. A family buys a dog; a daughter is stalked; a husband misses the wife he resents; a child is killed; a marriage suffers.

Our reviewer calls this book “a magnificent sweep of fine writing and unforgettable characters,” writing: “Dines is masterful at dancing around emotions and commitment, teasing her readers with promises of happy endings and stopping just short of them. She mines the world around her for situations that seem ordinary on the surface but, once examined, provide stories that merge together, sometimes uncomfortably.” Read the full review here.

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A Fool and a Whore by John Peter Fer

 Trey Ciuri is constantly on the move — from stints in the Air Force (protecting nuclear missiles), to the Peace Corps, as a fireman (following in his former-POW father’s footsteps), then a teacher and in the Foreign Service. We learn a great deal about him through anecdotes about his escapades with his four closest friends: Wade, an Air Force Academy partner in crime; his high school best friend Tony; Reggie, and Slim. We also learn that Trey has attempted suicide several times — a topic that somehow eludes most of the storytelling until it doesn’t. This is the tale of one “Generation-Whatever-Letter” guy and his struggles, survival and redemption.

Our reviewer describes this novel as “a character study that unfolds through its many conversations” in “an engaging whirlwind of personalities, ideas and beliefs,” all of which paint “a unique and intriguing portrait of a decent young man with flaws that threaten his survival.” Read the full review here.

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The Feathery by Bill Flynn (BookSurge Publishing)

 The first “real” golf ball was known as a “feathery,” a leather sack filled with boiled goose feathers, then stitched up and painted. The namesake novel, The Feathery, transports readers into the cutthroat world of golf antiques and paraphernalia, centering on a very specific old ball — the one used on the legendary Links of St. Andrews by feathery maker and golf champion Hugh McNair in 1849. The ball in question isn’t just any piece of memorabilia; it’s “the golf ball, the Holy Grail of golf balls.” When up-and-coming golfer Scott Beckman inherits the ball from his mentor, it doesn’t escape the notice of dangerous mobsters and greedy collectors, all conniving to make the ball theirs. In fact, it’s a prize they consider worth murdering for.

Our reviewer called this book “a fun ride” and “intriguing yarn” that “keeps readers guessing as to how the mystery will end” and features “believable, likable characters that readers will root for, in life and on the links.” Read the full review here.

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Burning Ground by D.A. Galloway

 The summer of 1970 finds Graham Davidson between semesters at Penn State, working in seasonal labor. A young man living under the shadow of survivor’s guilt after the death of three siblings, his direction is uncertain. Yet, he steadily becomes enthralled by the stories of the Indigenous Crow people as told by a fellow farm worker called Redfield. Redfield isn’t perfect, but he’s the catalyst in Graham’s transformative spirit journey across the American West. Little does he expect to lose consciousness and wake up in Yellowstone one hundred years in the past. Dazed and confused, he joins the Hayden expedition to investigate the wilderness destined to become the nation’s most famous park. And while he’s also on a mission to complete his vision quest and find his way home, there’s a complication: a half-Crow guide named Makawee who has stolen his heart.

Our reviewer describes this “multilayered” book as “a transfixing narrative” full of “meticulous detail” that weaves together “science, history, myth and storytelling.” And while there is adventure aplenty, our reviewer was also impressed by its subtleties, including the “eloquent descriptions of natural surroundings” and its “a gentle, mosaic way of meditating on time and memory.” Read the full review here.


Faults: Not All Are Forgiven by Orion Gregory

 When tennis player Sydney Livingstone shows up for the Mainspring Mutual Open in Silverhill, OH, she hopes to advance past the qualifying round and draw a modest paycheck to help make ends meet. She comes to the MMO with decent creds and a respectable game but has never quite distinguished herself on the tour. As she goes about her routine, there are several odd occurrences: a strange delivery to her hotel room, a cryptic message scratched on the side of her rental car, and the unexplainable disappearance of her first-round opponent. It seems that someone believes he or she has a score to settle with Syd and is obsessed with exacting revenge. Trouble is, there are so many around her who could be the culprit that she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Our reviewer calls Faults a “literary spider’s web” of interrelated suspects and a mysterious secondary narrator who may or may not be any of these characters. It’s a “breezy, lively read that snatches readers from the outset and holds them to the ultimate reveal.” Read the full review here.

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Into the Sky With Diamonds by Ronald Grelsamer (AuthorHouse)

 “A historical, fictional autobiography,” set in the 1960s, Into the Sky With Diamonds is a wild ride of memories for readers who lived through the era — or a history lesson for those who are too young to remember. In it, we meet Robert “Dutch” Richtman, the man in charge of tracking U.S. rockets and satellites for NASA. Dutch loves his work; he’s immersed in it. It’s his whole world, crowding out everything else on this earth — except for music. He loves music. A chance meeting on a bus with a rock ‘n roll roadie named Mal Evans launches a long correspondence about one of Mal’s most famous clients — the Beatles. What follows is a fascinating juxtaposition of NASA’s space race and the Fab Four’s meteoric rise to fame. The book is also available as an award-winning audiobook.

“Grelsamer alternates the narrative between the intimate knowledge and details of the progress (and failures) of NASA’s scientists, engineers and Apollo astronauts — and the gossipy, bumpy stories of the music industry,” explains our reviewer. “The combination works.” Read the full review here.

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Caroline and Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhas (Seven Guns Press)

 Thirteen-year-old Caroline and her mother are devastated by the death of Caroline’s father in a car accident, withdrawing from both the world and each other. But for Caroline, this grief is compounded by guilt; she believes it was her fault that her father died. On a walk to a nearby pond, Caroline notices a magic window opening in the water. With much trepidation, she slips through the window and enters a mysterious land where she meets her guide, a kind wanderer named Mordecai the Gand. He promises that he can lead her back home but not without obstacles, including unpredictable and hostile strangers, a witch and a dragon. But Mordecai bears a secret burden of his own. Can Caroline dig deep within herself to find the courage and heart to prevail — and help Mordecai gain his freedom in the process?

Our reviewer was deeply affected by this “raw, authentic and beautiful” tale: “I found myself reading faster and faster to get to the end. When I finished it, I burst into tears. …  In showing both sides of grief — the immense darkness and the illuminating light — Gunhus reveals grief’s transformative power.” Read the full review here.


The Sun at Twilight by N.L. Holmes 

 The Hittite Empire, 1230s BCE. Hattushili III has died, leaving his heir and first-rank son, Tashmi-sharrumma, to take his place as “emperor of all the lands that called Hatti their master.” Tash’s transition from tuhkanti (crown prince) to the Great King Tudhaliya IV, however, doesn’t come without challenges, whether they stem from other family members or the desires of his own heart. Try as he might to be the virtuous and just king he believes Hatti Land deserves, there are plots at work that threaten his rule — some newly brewed and others concocted decades ago that are only just reaching their boiling point.

Our reviewer says, “Leave it to an actual archeologist to unearth an ancient story so epic and mystifying the reader might mistake it for fantasy. … Holmes’ writing is lush and, at times, lyrical. … This book has something for everyone: action, political intrigue, military and diplomatic strategy, romance, secrets and schemes, betrayal.” Read the full review here.

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Franklin Rock by Mark E. Klein (Greenbriar Publishing)

 College student Franklin Rock searches for the answers behind the “spells” that incapacitate him at the oddest times. These episodes include flashes of memory so vivid he feels as though he is actually there. To observers, it appears he is having some sort of neurological episode. After a lifetime of coping and diagnoses, that explanation seems wrong. Unexpected support is offered by his advisor, Professor Charles Niemeyer, who confirms that the dreams Franklin has had since childhood are proof that he can move through time. Franklin is excited to finally have answers and a guide — when his mentor suddenly dies, leaving behind a strange book. On the cover is the printed title, Franklin Rock: The Man Who Saved the World. The inside is entirely blank. What could it possibly mean? 

Our reviewer praised Klein’s “smooth blending of fantasy, science fiction and the Hero’s Journey, coupled with the spiritual underpinnings of books like Siddhartha and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” It’s a story that rewards readers with “illumination about the world, our lives and the meaning of time.” Read the full review here.

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You Might Feel a Little Prick by Reuben Leder (FriesenPress)

 Nick Glass, a former local baseball hero and current employee for a medical equipment provider, undergoes a spinal fusion. The procedure does not get the intended result — he remains in great pain. In fact, there are questions from a variety of corners whether the surgery was even necessary. Some wonder if doctors and administrators were seeking personal notoriety and fatter financial compensation. As Nick and his girlfriend, Dr. Julie Toffoli, seek answers to what went wrong, they are confronted with the typical gobbledygook responses that some medical professionals provide. As they go about their search, their interests shift as much to solving Nick’s physical issues as it does to finding the people responsible — and getting even.

Our reviewer calls Leder “a very funny and talented author” who has put “the medical profession and the insurance business … directly in his line of fire. … You want to laugh — and you do — at the seemingly bumbling capers of the medical team at the fictional Cleveland Mercy Hospital.” Read the full review here.

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Shadow Music by Helaine Mario (Oceanview)

 1985, the border between Austria and Hungary. Two women are on the run: aspiring nun Donata and her best friend Tereza. Tereza clutches her baby daughter and her father’s two greatest treasures, his beloved violin and a painted canvas. But Tereza is being hunted by the dangerous father of her newborn child, and just as the women are about to cross the border, gunshots ring out. With her dying breath, Tereza entrusts her infant daughter to Donata. Present-day Boston: After the shocking death of her husband Johnny and a year of mourning, renowned classical pianist Maggie O’Shea has just finished her comeback performance when she meets a foreign stranger who claims to have known her late husband Johnny. Meanwhile, Maggie’s new lover Michael is asked to investigate the murder of a young woman entangled with the Russian mob and to track down her missing son, currently on the run in New York.

The two storylines eventually “come together like the instruments of an orchestra to produce an intricate, surprising, inspiring symphony,” says our reviewer. Also harmonious is the cross-genre nature of this novel that “weaves together music, art, history, romance and crime.” Read the full review here.

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The Curse of Cortes by Guy Morris

 A minor earthquake off the coast of Honduras destroys the family home of a local tour guide, Sophia Martinez. After the quake, Sophia discovers several strange items hidden in the walls of her crumbling home: a strange book written in an ancient language with blood-red ink, an engraved tortoise shell, and a ceremonial dagger with a green obsidian blade. Looking for answers from experts, Sophia finds herself the target of powerful men who know the true value and power of these ancient relics and will do anything to obtain them. She joins a crew of explorers searching for an immense treasure rumored to be hidden on the coast of Central America. But there is a horrible truth behind the treasure they are seeking, and the leaders of a dangerous drug cartel are at their heels.

Our reviewer compared this book to Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code, writing, “In addition to a fantastic cast of characters and an electrifying plot, the top-tier literary talent of Morris makes The Curse of Cortés a spectacular read. … The tension of the plot is ratcheted higher with each scene, strategically and thoughtfully creating a level of suspense only achieved by the very best writers.” Read the full review here.

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Mrs Saville by Ted Morrissey (Twelve Winters Press

 England, early 1800s. Mrs. Margaret Saville is a middle-upper class wife and mother whose husband, Philip, has just gone off to find his fortune in a faraway land. You may remember Mrs. Saville as the recipient of letters from her brother and ship captain Robert Walton in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, letters that expose a horrible truth about the Creature. In this novel, Mrs. Saville dutifully writes letters of her own; they are to her husband about the going-on at home  — about her new young friend Mary Shelley, how the children are faring, and how her brother Robert has landed on her doorstep a broken man after many years at sea. Yet her letters go unanswered. Like most women in that time, Mrs. Saville is financially dependent on her husband, and with each letter, she gets more and more frantic as her finances start to dwindle. She patiently waits for his assistance as the world around her crumbles, bewildered and desperate. It is clear she mustn’t wait any longer but draw on her own strength to make hard decisions for the sake of her family. 

Our reviewer describes Mrs. Saville as “an eerie novel that I could not put down … Morrissey channels a fictional character in a way that I have never experienced before. … There is an unexpected supernatural quality [that] hypnotized me into the world of Mrs. Saville despite myself … Hats off for embodying a woman’s psyche in such a stunning way.” Read the full review here.

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The Dreamcatcher Codes by Barbara Newman (Green Writers Press)

 When The Crystal Horseshoe, which holds the knowledge and wisdom of the planet, is shattered into six pieces stolen by a black raven, it becomes clear that a new generation of Earth Guardians must be appointed to retrieve them. It is an ancient and sacred role, and Maia, Ava, Falcon and Yue answer the call. Their quest won’t be easy, and the consequences of failure are dire — without the crystal, the Earth and its environment are in great peril. It’s a dangerous odyssey, and along the way, these four girls will not only discover powerful the codes and forces hidden in Nature, but also their own exceptional and unique capabilities and the strength and sustenance that comes from the bond of sisterhood. 

Our reviewer recommends this “thoughtful and enriching” tale as “a must-read not only for young people but for adults. … Newman combines her advocacies of girls’ leadership and care of the Earth into a rich and beautifully written story … that will inspire girls to dig deep within and ponder what empowers them.” Read the full review here.

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Dreamworms by Isaac Petrov (Future Notion Press)

 2515: Using an immersive learning technology called the dream net, Ximena, a historian and Ph.D. candidate, studies an event from a century earlier, an era called the “second collapse,” when humanity almost went extinct. Her focus soon turns to the life of Edda Van Dolah, who lived in Europe at the end of 2399 during this collapse and rebelled against the norms of her society. Edda is chosen by an alien race to undergo specialized training, which Ximena is able to partake of vicariously. In the process, Ximena makes a startling and upsetting discovery: the history she was so confident she knew inside out may not be as “true” and historically accurate as she was previously taught. 

Our reviewer called this series opener an “exciting, detailed, intricately woven science fiction novel … told in layers of dreams within dreams … [that] takes the reader on a mind-bending ride a la the movie Inception.” Read the full review here.

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The Black Alabaster Box by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Publishers)

 This tale of the Old West opens as the Willis family leaves their home in St. Louis and joins the wagon train along the Santa Fe Trail to California. Young Grace Willis wakes up from a deep sleep only to discover she has been kidnapped by the shady, untrustworthy Swathmore family. She has her chance to escape, and she does. She meets Mr. Nichols, a mysterious man with a calming presence who helps her get back to civilization — and who may or may not be real. In the big city, though, there’s trouble afoot. Celeste is an attractive, bossy and powerful woman who dangles people by her fingertips. We learn that she has access to crystals, which she keeps hidden in a black alabaster box, crystals that have the power to restore Earth to its natural beauty. Celeste, however, has chosen to use them for her personal desires. Mr. Nichols is aware of this and, along with Grace, sets a plan in motion to take on the evil Celeste.

The Black Alabaster Box checks off all my requirements for the perfect middle-grade book,” writes our reviewer, who highly recommends it for its “captivating story full of excitement and adventure,” “swift and fluid” narrative and “difficult life situations that present children with valuable lessons.” Read the full review here.

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The Musician by Mike Shaw (Blue Room Books)

 Tom Cliffe loves music: an unexpected glissando, a change of key that’s felt in the gut, the liquid connection between song and audience. On page one, he identifies himself, “Pure white boy, raised in comfort, privately educated,” then proceeds to throw himself into the world of jazz in the 1960s, a world predominately Black, rough, often underground and always unprofitable. But music is all, even upstaging family and romantic love. And although Tom suffers, he seldom regrets. The Musician takes us on the road to glamorous Atlanta hotels and Florida’s poolside bars. But it’s the Fontenot shotgun residence on the sticky streets of New Orleans and the family members who live (and cook) there that become Tom’s home away from home — or more accurately, his home away from the road. Out-of-work musicians are a charming bunch, and the love of music is a tie that binds. Fiercely. 

Our reviewer calls this love letter to jazz an “inspirational story of determination and grit” and “a sober and fine story of what it’s like to love music more than anything else.” It’ll leave you wanting to “spend a few hours listening to the old jazz artists with your eyes closed.” Read the full review here.


What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor (She Writes Press)

 The follow-up to 2020’s What’s Not Said continues the story of one woman’s complex romantic entanglements. Chris is a young man with purpose and a flair for romance; Kassie is a woman in love against her better judgment. Although she’s hesitant about her love affair with Chris, who is ten years her junior, she’s looking forward to the day her divorce is final. So is Karen, who is waiting impatiently to marry Kassie’s soon-to-be-ex-husband Mike and claim what she considers her share of his money and control of his business. When Kassie is offered a plum position in her company’s Paris office, it finally looks like things are moving in the right direction. But just as readers may be expecting that happy-ever-after ending for Chris and Kassie and are convinced that Mike is getting what he rightly deserves with Karen as his new wife, one trans-Atlantic phone call changes almost everything.

Our reviewer recommends this book for reading groups: “What’s Not True has much to spark lively discussion among its readers, which makes it a fine choice for book clubs.” Read the full review here.

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Ryder Stephens by Veronica L. Ventura (SBC Publishing House)

Thirteen-year-old Ryder has lost everything — her mother is dead, her father has chosen a Vegas blackjack table over being her dad, and her new foster home couldn’t be further from the kind she grew up in. So she runs as far as she can get away by bus — all the way to New York City. With only a backpack of essentials, her violin and some stolen cash, she will need all her resourcefulness to survive the mean streets. A chance encounter on the steps of the New York Public Library with a man on his lunch hour, though, will change all that. But will a new home and a new family heal the trauma buried deep within her?

Our reviewer classifies this novel as “coming-of-age fiction about the transformation of a privileged, self-centered child to one who finds compassion and understanding for the flawed adults in her life” and calls it “a moving story of loss, love and healing.” Read the full review here.

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The Necklace by Matt Witten (Oceanview)

Susan Lentigo sets off to drive the 1,500 miles from Upstate New York to North Dakota to attend the execution of the man who was convicted of killing her seven-year-old daughter 20 years earlier. While the murder investigation had focused on multiple suspects, a man who confessed under pressure during a long FBI interrogation was ultimately sentenced, although he later recanted his confession. Overcome with grief, over the ensuing years Susan’s mental health and marriage disintegrated. And now as she journeys toward retribution, Susan must overcome unforeseen challenges, including evidence that her daughter’s true killer remains at large. Can she bring the culprit to justice before an innocent man dies for a crime he didn’t commit?

Our reviewer calls The Necklace “a non-stop psychological thriller that builds tension right up to its shocking conclusion” and praised the book’s characters, which “jump off the page.” Read the full review here.

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Far Less by Kathy Wollenberg (Humboldt State University Press)

Homeless 17-year-old Jesse Glen lives in the Redwood forests of California in a camp with his younger sister and drug-addicted mother. Somehow, for the most part, he manages to hide his situation from those around him — cleaning up in public places, sneaking in laundry and chores, attending school and scrapping for food, all the while tending lovingly to his sister and grudgingly to his mother. This gets tricky when he acquires a love interest, and then another, and manipulates as best he can to hold onto his self-esteem and cover up his true existence. Jesse’s world eventually becomes known to some, in particular Marie, a girl who works at a shelter and sees him for what he is: an enterprising, responsible and intellectually curious teen with the determination to overcome his circumstances.

Our reviewer found this book a “touching coming-of-age debut novel” with a compelling protagonist: “Jesse’s plight is overlaid with angst, deficiency, secrecy and isolation. … He doesn’t apologize for his plight, resents pity, and focuses every moment on addressing what is needed with practical decisions. … Readers will applaud his resilience.” Read the full review here.

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A Time for Monsters by Gareth Worthington (Vesuvian Books)

Veteran Detective Arne Huakaas is a man beaten down by life. His 30 years on the police force in Oslo, Norway, have jaded his outlook beyond repair. His failure to identify the killer in a year-long investigation into multiple murders has further proven his incompetence. And the newest murder is just like the others — the victim bludgeoned with a block of wood and the narrow end of a bottle jammed into the hole in his head with no forensic clues. Reyna “Rey” Blackburn has a score to settle. She’s sick of men abusing their wives and then going on with their day while their children hide in a corner. At least they arrest and prosecute rapists and murderers. These cowardly wife-beaters suffer no punishment; no one exacts justice for the wives and children. Until now.

Our reviewer writes, “Huakaas is a perfect anti-hero … [and] Rey is so damaged that we understand her motivations and her search for joy in the wrong places. … For thriller fans of vigilante justice, this story of abuse and retribution will have readers considering whether bad deeds should be forgiven or punished — or both.” Read the full review here.

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Short Stories by Stanislas M. Yassukovich (Austin Macauley Publishers)

Whether we care to admit it or not, the consuming public is fascinated with the high corners of society. Some astute writers really know how to make it count, though, taking it beyond mere entertainment into the realm of insight and understanding with pain often trumping privilege. Yassukovich is such a writer. This collection of poignant vignettes paints a picture of a cosmopolitan universe that has indelibly shaped (often scarred) its inhabitants, many of whom are consciously or subconsciously trying to escape. Throughout is an obsession with nostalgia that guides the way through his recollections of people and places with intriguing backgrounds and flawed outcomes.

“Thank heaven for Stanislas Yassokovich,” writes our reviewer, calling this collection “wise” and “entertaining.” Our reviewer is a particular fan of his “magnificent writing and keen observations”: “The author is a gifted, insightful writer with beautiful descriptions of places and personalities, using a rich, dense approach to language that makes readers feel the true depth of characters, what drives them, and what guides their decisions.” Read the full review here.

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The Redhead in the Cove by Scott Addeo Young and Edmond G. Addeo (Waterside Productions)

A young redhead is found floating in McCovey’s Cove, the chilly water over the right-field fence of the San Francisco Giants’ baseball stadium. Private Investigator Steve Lombardi is contacted by his best friend Johnny Lynch, an ex-cop who admits to having an affair with the redhead, a beautiful Southern-transplanted nurse named MaryLou, and advises him that the authorities will likely think he killed her. He asks Steve to conduct his own investigation in the hope of finding the killer and clearing his name. Steve’s probing leads to a host of characters: MaryLou’s bullying husband, her lifelong friend who held a crush until the end, her gay lover, a doctor suspected of dealing drugs on the side, and her disappearing father whose MO seems to be bash anyone that suits him. It’s a colorful cast for a colorful tale of mystery.

Our reviewer says, “The authors work the cliffhanger chapter endings well, with Steve often pondering a clue or behavior that may or may not mean anything but keeps readers on their toes. … Scott Addeo Young and Ed Addeo have delivered a classy crime thriller with a swift plot, many hooks, [and] characters who are well-defined (flaws and all).” Read the full review here.