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New Reads for July/August
Where Petals Fall (World Literary Press, 2013)
by Melissa Foster
It is always a pleasure to read Melissa. Each novel is the product of research and hard work, as well as the generous imagination we all would wish to have.
“Where Petals Fall” grabs the reader from page one and keeps him or her reading until the puzzle is solved. Four-year-old Sarah, always a happy child, changes personalities for some unknown reason. She has stopped talking and regressed almost to babyhood. As her parents try to deal with the situation, Mother, Junie, loses her father to a heart attack. The two situations trigger in Junie memories of a childhood friend, Ellen, who is also the sister of her husband, Brian.
Melissa skillfully weaves these seeming disparate threads together, solving the mystery with an unexpected twist at the end. But to reach that, she almost ruins her marriage, her relationship to her recently widowed mother, and the normality of her life. Despite the sorrow, this is a wonderful view of a mother’s dedication to her child, spread across three generations.
Melissa’s writing is the work of a master honed to the point that she now writes some 7,000 to 10,000 words a day and turns out more books (11 last year alone) than most people do in a lifetime. She calls herself with reason, “super-focused.”
“All my books go through six weeks of editing and with each one I work with a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader. I don’t skimp on anything even the cover art,” she says. Nor does she stint in her dedication, sleeping with a phone under her pillow. “If I get an idea in the night, I use the phone to send myself messages.”
Her energy has paid off with myriad awards, among them seeing her titles on the New York Times Bestseller List and that of USA Today. She has been interviewed by CCN Money and for the last 6 months has been listed on Amazon as one of their top 100 authors.
Available at: amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and ordered through local bookstores.
Battle of Falling Waters, 1863 (Create Space, 2013)
by George F. Franks, III
Gettysburg is famous as the turning point of the Civil War, and infamous for the savage battle fought there, but a new area of history has become the focus of much of that war’s history — the retreat from Gettysburg.
With days of pouring rain, mud underfoot, and well and wounded Confederate soldiers trying to cross the swollen Potomac while pursued by Union forces, it was a horrific nightmare.
George frames his narrative around this, also quoting from official reports and first-hand accounts. He includes a final chapter with driving directions to the battlefield.
From the time he first visited Gettysburg at seven years of age, George has been fascinated by the Civil War. When he and his partner bought the Donnelly house he started doing research on the Battle. “It was strictly a night and weekend project,” he notes, as he then worked full-time for a large technology company.
He sent over 100 letters to publishers but no one was interested in the Civil War, much less the retreat from Gettysburg. During that time, the self-publishing process became stronger and he decided to go that route, working with a friend whom he described as “a great editor.”
He is now working on a new Civil War book about a personality whom he is not ready to reveal.
Available at: amazon.com, the Washington County-Hagerstown Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Visitors Centers in Gettysburg and the C & O Canal, and at fallingwatersmd1863.com.
June’s Gemini (Create Space, 2013)
by Jason Kline
This is a challenging work, a true psychological thriller. Jake, the major protagonist, is working for the wonderfully-named, Stormdrain Enterprises, where he does the honorable thing — working to support the family he adores. But he is at heart a visionary, or better yet, a renegade, revolting against society, telling indicated by his description of his apartment as “a space in the wall on the 33rd floor.”
His life starts to unravel as his wife and child move from their apartment. He finds himself talking to a disembodied voice on a disconnected telephone line. He finds himself at a state of being somewhere between reality and imagination.
As his life further falls apart, he commits crimes that he never would have imagined himself doing, some of which are exciting, others producing dread. The ending is one each reader has to reach on their own, but be prepared for a major surprise.
“I love philosophy and am fascinated to know what would happen if we lived in our dreams,” says Jason. “I want to know what our dreams mean and explore the gray area between them and reality.”
Originally, the wife, June, was to be the main character, holding the small family together, but as Jason progressed in his writing, he switched to examine Jake and his relation to society and people’s slavery to money and jobs to be able to afford a house and kids.
“I am planning a prequel to this story to explain how Jake developed,” says Jason. With an ending like this one, it will surely be dramatic.
Available at: amazon.com, facebook.com/JunesGemini.
This Way to Paradise (Macdougall Press, LLC, 2013)
by D. Bruce Foster
In this second thriller about emergency room doctor, Alex Randolph, the reader is on the edge following his unexpected encounter with a beautiful sociopath who has decided that he will love her at any expense. That determination almost costs the life of Alex’s love, Penny, a widowed emergency room nurse and her two young children.
The story follows two separate lines — and lives — with little indication that once they converge at least one person will die and others will come close the same fate. The ending is spectacular.
Not a specialist in psychology, Bruce has done an admirable job of helping the reader understand what shapes a sociopathic personality. The story is one of contrast between a manipulative personality and a world that does not recognize it is being used.
“I did research on sociopaths before I started writing and structured this character, Mary Ann, around their common characteristics,” says Bruce, “that includes sexual abuse and promiscuity.” And the lovely and dangerous Mary Ann fits that perfectly.
“We tend to want nice, clean scientific explanations for evil in the world, perhaps because we think we could then control it,” he adds. “But evil remains with use and I think always will, undefeated by science.”
Bruce has not left his day job — or in his case — his night job at the ER. This is an advantage for the reader who gets some insight into the norms of modern medicine as a result. After two books about Alex, Bruce does not know if he “will resurface or not.” Hopefully, he will return, with a new adventure as skillfully plotted as this one
Available at: amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and Dru’s Books n’ Things, Waynesboro, Pa.