Volume 22 Number 1

"What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about the things.”

Epictetus, Stoic philosopher
Oct - December 2018





Written by Jillian Lauren and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
ISBN # 978-0142181638

The Courage To Get What She Wants

What does it take to get a second chance at life?

For Jillian Lauren it means adoption. She wants to be a mother. She wants to protect a child from the sadness of drug abuse and low self esteem that she experienced after she dropped out of college. No matter how hard she and her musician husband, Scott, try, they cannot conceive. She’s infertile. She wants a child by any means and Jillian Lauren takes us on her journey in Everything You Ever Wanted.

At an Adoption Options Seminar she learns about babies in Ethiopia and that leads them to Tariku. He has special needs in addition to parents and a good home. Jillian and Scott decide they are up to the task, and after long waits and issues with the government they are able to take him home.
Tariku has problems with behavior, socialization, and attachment. He hurts people. At times he hurts himself. He lacks physical control. Despite what the doctors say, something is wrong. Just ask any of the teachers in any of the preschools he attends. It would be sappy to say that love conquers all, but love, need and a desire to do the right thing combine to change the lives of both mother and child.
This is a story about identity, patience, acceptance, and determination. It’s about making dreams a reality, being creative, and finding joy in unexpected places. Written with a blend of humor and irony that will keep readers turning pages, this unforgettable story is a must-read for mothers, foster children, teachers, pediatricians, and anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Jillian Lauren is a courageous author. Her memoirs are unique, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. You can read more about her at http://www.jillianlauren.com.



Written by Ovidia Yu and Reviewed By Ashley Hall
ISBN # 978-0062416490
William Morrow Paperbacks

Colorful Culture with a Side of Fanaticism

Calling all cozy-mystery food loving fanatics- Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge is for you! The third in a series, Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge is a delightful cozy mystery that even those who are not typically a fan of the sub genre (such as myself) will enjoy. It is also a great standalone novel for those who have yet to read the previous two.
Rosie “Aunty” Lee is at it again it seems, only this time she’s out to solve a multi-tiered mystery. On our journey with the main character, the author, Ovidia Yu, does a wonderful job of illustrating the colorful culture and everyday life of Singapore for those not readily “in the know”. Whether it is with the description of beloved Moon Cakes or Aunty Lee’s analysis of why her police friend has not yet re-married, Yu continues to build a very real world within the pages.
She has created a relatable character in Aunty Lee who is reminiscent of that old Jewish Bubby or Italian grandmother who pokes and prods at everything to the dismay of those around her but whose intentions are always the purest of heart. Driven to find the answers to her burning questions surrounding two seemingly connected deaths, or, as Aunty Lee fears, murders, in an otherwise close-knit and safe neighborhood she uncovers more than she bargained for! In true fashion, Aunty Lee provides great challenge to the police along the way but is determined to find the person responsible for the deaths and bring them to justice to save not just her business but help those she knows and loves.
While not quite pulsating or as adrenaline fueled as my tastes normally run, I appreciate the story and the immersive experience the author creates. For those who like a cozy mystery, brew yourself a cup of tea and curl up with Aunty Lee for an entertaining and fun read.
Ashley Hall is an avid reader and writing enthusiast. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area where, when not reviewing books or attending to her multimedia business, AH Media Arts, she enjoys tea, dancing, red lipstick and rock music.





Written by Anne Hillerman and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
ISBN # 9780062270511
Harper Collins

A Different Lens

Anne Hillerman, daughter of Tony Hillerman, is continuing her father’s series with additional characters, new perspective and her own glorious interpretations of the landscape in the Navaho nation.
A routine traffic stop turns into a mystery when a nervous driver alone in the desert tries to bribe officer Bernadette Manuelito despite the fact that he only has two boxes of dirt in this trunk. What is he hiding? And what is going on when her husband, Sgt. Jim Chee, agrees to provide extra security for a film crew and winds up tripping over a newly dug grave? Unexpected complications arise on both their cases and the twists and turns are different than I would expect in a Tony Hillerman novel, as are the resolutions and explanations.

That makes perfect sense. Anne Hillerman sees these characters through a different lens. Her perspective gives new dimension. She is a strong author in her own right. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to continue someone else’s popular series, much less a parent’s work. I admire the fact that she is keeping these characters alive. Her gorgeous descriptions and unique cultural glimpses into Native Americans, which were an excellent part of the series, are certainly on a par with her father’s work. If you loved Tony Hillerman’s writing, you’ll want to read this and decide for yourself what gifts Ms. Hillerman brings to the series.



Written by Fauzia Burke and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
ISBN # 978-1-62656-785-6
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Plan, Prioritize, and Promote 


Fauzia Burke’s Online Marketing for Busy Authors is an excellent resource. As the title suggests, she cuts to the heart of marketing, telling readers what they need to do to succeed. Unlike the short-cut to success programs where one size fits all, she gives readers a number of questions and invites them to draft their answers right in the book. In other words, she allows them to tailor her suggestions to their needs. She knows what she is doing and how to make her strategies work.

She divides a writer’s or publicist’s time into three phases: Getting Organized, Turning Your Thinking Into Action, and Staying the Course. Getting organized involves planning, prioritizing, and knowing your reader. Her suggestions for action are realistic and well reasoned. She talks about tracking what does and doesn’t work in her final suggestion. All of it is intended to help a writer push her work out into the world and leave her time to write her next book.

Author Fauzia Burke is the founder of FSB Associates, “one of the first firms to specialize in online publicity and marketing for publishers and authors.” She’s launched over 2000 publicity campaigns and many of the books she works with become bestsellers.

Burke presents her information in the most efficient style possible. She uses bullet points, bold print, and short clear sentences to make it easy for readers to take what is useful to them. Pulitzer finalist S.C. Gwynne has written the foreword, and Burke keeps her emphasis on marketing techniques rather than telling stories of her successe+++s as a less experienced person might do.  

Get a copy for your current book and save this concise marketing guide for your next venture as well. Be your own best advocate with the help of Fauzia Burke’s advice.  



DIMESTORE: A Writers Life

Written by Lee Smith and Reviewed by Ann McCauley
ISBN: 978-1-61620-502-7            
Published 2016 by Algonquin Press 

Raised to Leave the Holler 

Lee Smith ‘s descriptions of growing up in Appalachian coal country in the post war 1950’s will make readers forget the distractions of everyday life, as they lose themselves in this poignant memoir, Dimestore .  If you have read any of her novels, you will love it. Or if this is your first Lee Smith book, you are in for a treat, and I guarantee you will be looking up her earlier works.
Lee Smith was born in Grundy, Virginia, (population 3,000); nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, “…so steep that the sun didn’t hit our yard until after 11 o’clock.”
Both her parents suffered from periodic “kindly nervous disorders” and were periodically hospitalized for mental health issues, far away from Grundy.  Smith was kin to almost everyone in Grundy; she stayed with various family members during their absences.  But Lee Smith does not dwell on those days. She was an only child, but was never without playmates and plenty of cousins to keep her days action packed with mountain explorations and games.  Her aunts and grandparents’ homes were a stones’ throw from her family home. She grew up feeling safe and secure in the bosom of her large extended family.
The book is a compilation of fifteen essays. I loved each one, though my favorite is the seventh, On Lou’s Porch. The first line of Lou’s story at a writing workshop is: “Old Rellar had thirteen miscarriages and she named every one of them.” If that is not a powerful first line, I don’t know what could possibly hold a reader’s attention.
She describes her life with a rare honesty and raw openness which evokes tears and laughter. Lee was aware early on that she was being raised to leave the holler. Her parents wanted her to find life outside Grundy and that she did. College, jobs far from Grundy, marriage, success as a writer, children, divorce and a second marriage, though, through it all her heart never seemed to really leave Grundy.


Ann received a Master’s in Creative Writing from Wilkes University in 2014. She is the author of two novels; Runaway Grandma, (2007) and Mother Love, (2012).  She’s also a contributor to the anthology, Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing, (2012), and Women Writing After Retirement, (2014).  Ann also reviews books for WPSU, her local NPR radio station and Story Circle.org.