Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eye of the Wolf - Marie Zhuikov

Eye of the Wolf

by Marie Zhuikov

Wolves have lived on Isle Royale for over half a century. But, because they have lived in isolation on the island national park surrounded by Lake Superior for so long, their genetic diversity has suffered. It's gotten so bad that pups are stillborn. In other words, the wolves of Isle Royale are slowly dying out.

The alpha wolves of the island's largest pack have decided to do something about it. They know what will save their pack -- they must escape from the island, mix their blood with other wolves -- and the only way to do this is by boat. Of course, wolves can't run boats. People can, though. How can the wolves communicate this to the humans? The alphas know a way, and lure key humans into supernatural bondage as werewolves.

All of this doesn't take into account that Isle Royale is replete with scientists and volunteers studying the island ecology, friends of the people turned to werewolves who are searching for them, odd boat schedules, the pack's own internal power dynamics, vagaries of wind and weather, and myriad other problems causing the balance between survival and extinction to teeter back and forth. Will the wolves escape? Will they survive?


Marie Zhuikov spent two memorable college summers as a waitress on Isle Royale National Park, which alerted her to the plight of the wolves. An award-winning writer specializing in environmental and medical topics, she has published hundreds of articles and publications, many about her beloved Lake Superior. Marie’s poems have appeared in several anthologies and community projects. She lives in Duluth, Minn.

    • Barnes and Noble in Duluth on January 28 (time to be determined)


    Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and North Star Press of St. Cloud

    North Star Press of St. Cloud

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Ghellow Road - T. H. Waters

    Ghellow Road

    by T. H. Waters

    Ghellow Road is a literary diary of a young girl’s journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa’s story begins in a large midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa.

    This is a distinctive coming-of-age story that speaks to love, loss and the undeniable power of community.


    T. H. Waters (a.k.a. Tera Waters) was raised in the state of Minnesota and currently resides in Minneapolis with her significant other and two loving fur balls.  She has been a life-long lover of the written word.  She loves the magic and the mystique; she loves the breadth of it and how it can fortify one’s spirit. 

    Tera didn’t grow up imagining that she would one day become an author.  In fact, she had never even considered it until about 8 years ago when she received news that her brother had died suddenly.  He was only 39 years old.  It was one of the saddest days of her life. 

    Numb and in shock, Tera picked up a pen and some paper, sat down at her dining room table and with tears streaming down her face, wrote his eulogy.  A few more years would pass before Tera would take her passion for writing and use it to create her life’s story, Ghellow Road.





    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Gus - Rose McClimon Hamlin


    by Rose McClimon Hamlin

    Rose McClimon Hamlin is a freelance writer and her YA nonfiction book Gus is now available for readers to enjoy. Rose also works on her family horse farm of rural Wykoff training horses and giving riding lessons.  Growing up on her family farm she competed with her horses in Rodeos and Horse Shows. She is also a mother of three boys and one little princess.Her horses and children are the inspiration for her words to write. Rose says, "Not that I become famous do I write, but that I write my best for God each day. Working to be better today than I was yesterday, then I'm successful." 


    A life-changing journey in a story of love, Gus was an appaloosa gelding that became a part of Rose's family when she was five years old. Full of mistrust fear gripped Gus' life making it hard to trust any human. He was dangerous, kicking and biting even bucking off most of his riders. Gus couldn’t be trusted. Slowly through the years a love grew. Gus and Rose shared a bond so strong it changed their lives forever. This is an adventurous story of learning to love, learning to give and learning how to say good-bye.   

    Gus is 181 pages with over 30 pictures of Rose and Gus, available as an e-book, paperback, and hard cover.  


    Gus can be purchased through Rose's website @

    This book is also available through your local book store.

    Author House

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Birds in Our Backyard - Adele Porter

    Birds in Our Backyard

    by Adele Porter

    A prairie chicken dancing to the beat, a Red-Winged blackbird flashing his snazzy wing patches to attract a female, a grouse growing its own “snowshoes,” and American robins traveling north in the spring share at least one characteristic—they all call Minnesota home at some point during the year. Birds in Our Backyard invites young ones into the lives of these winged wonders.

    Season by season, kids discover which birds they might see, how far they have traveled, where they build their homes, and what they like to eat. Able guide Adele Porter and award-winning nature photographer Bill Marchel bring to life the world of birds—the colors, the sounds, the wonder of flight. Learn about wild and urban habitats, clever practices in building nests and caching food, and migrating and mating rituals.

    Birds in Our Backyard is the perfect companion for a walk in the woods, a picnic in the park, or breakfast at the kitchen window, encouraging budding birders and naturalists to take a closer look at our feathered friends and the world we share with them.


    Adele Porter is a science educator and author fortunate to have a career that combines her curiosity and passion for science and dedication to children. The Wild About series of children and young adult books was inspired by the students of all ages that she has worked with during 20 years as an educator.

    When not teaching or working on a book, Adele writes educational materials for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the US Forest Service, and various publications. Being a member of the National Science Teachers' Association and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators helps to keep her informed.

    When asked what she enjoys the most about being an author, the answer is easy - meeting the readers of the Wild About books and hearing about their enthusiastic outdoor adventure stories! Another fun part of being an author is guiding readers to participate in citizen science projects.

    Minnesota is her favorite state and where she learned to canoe and kayak, cross-country ski, and roast marshmallows until they have crunchy brown bubbles on the outside and melted deliciousness inside. What she treasures most is spending time with her family and friends.


    Bill Marchel is a full-time wildlife and outdoor photographer and writer from Fort Ripley, Minnesota.  His photo files contain over 120,000 images that include over 100 magazine cover photos to such magazines as Audubon, Field & Stream, National Wildlife, and Ducks Unlimited.  His writing appears in a weekly column titled Afield for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 


    Book signings: 
      • Saturday, March 24, 2012, 1:00 - 3:30 pm: Book Cliffs in Wabasha
      • March 2012, Date TBD: Red Balloon Bookshop
      • April 2012, Date TBD: Creative KidsStuff
      Author program information:

      Adele also offers a new set of winter classes via Skype - her take on Skype an Author. Since the great outdoors is her main "office", these will be done on location in a natural area.

      Blogs:  and



      Minnesota Historical Society Press
      Adventure Publications, Inc.


      Tuesday, December 6, 2011

      Review: Sky's Bridal Train by Margo Hansen

      Bottom line:

      Enjoyable Christian romance with plenty of mystery, suspense, and historical flair.


      A lovely young woman travels across frontier America in search of her twin.  However, she is pursued by a man who wants to marry her against her will. Can she evade her pursuer, find her twin, and discover true love?


      o Several plot twists that kept me guessing.
      o Just enough history to be educational and rooted me in the setting.
      o Pleasantly surprised by the elements of mystery and suspense in this romance.
      o Short chapters that made this book easy to read at night.
      o Cliffhanger endings at many of the chapter ends that made me wonder what would happen next (and admittedly often made me read an additional chapter at night).


      o Personally, I would have liked additional details from a historical fiction perspective, but this book is primarily a romance, and the author stayed true to that.
      o Strong promotion of Christianity starting about midway through the book.  I'd found this at a book fair and had mistaken it for a historical fiction novel (though it's clearly marked as a Christian novel on Amazon).  In a few places, I felt like it crossed the line of preaching to the reader, but lovers of Christian fiction will likely see this as a strength.  That said, the sections where this occurred were limited and seemed to remain mostly true to the time period and location.

      Would recommend to:

      I'd recommend this book to Christian audiences who enjoy romances, mysteries, and historical fiction. 

      Full disclosure:  How did I obtain this book?

      Review copy provided by author in exchange for honest review.

      Purchase link:

      Thursday, December 1, 2011

      Rudy's Incredible Kidney Machine - Stacy Raye Waibel

      Rudy's Incredible Kidney Machine

      by Stacy Raye Waibel

      Review by Laura Weber, National Kidney Foundation Patient & Family Council Executive Committee

      Stacy uses a very child friendly character, Rudy the dog, to introduce her reader to kidney failure. I thought it was good that she started with Rudy becoming symptomatic with the fatigue common to End Stage Renal Disease.  As Rudy goes to the doctor, the author uses this occasion to give a very good and child age appropriate basic description of what the kidneys are and what their function is “to clean our blood” along with a very basic diagram on the kidneys in relationship to the major internal organs. As the book progresses, Rudy goes to dialysis with a great illustration of the little dog hooked up to the dialysis machine with a rudimentary explanation of what dialysis does and what it is like. I thought it was great that the book addresses what kinds of food could or couldn’t be eaten, or eaten in moderation, and fluid restrictions. The book seems to present a pretty balanced accounting of the limitations of dialysis while still enjoying life on dialysis. The illustrations in this book are very good.


      Stacy Raye Waibel writes children's stories that star her poodle, Rudy, as the main character. Children of all ages, races, and genders can relate to Rudy.

      These stories are informative and educational as well as entertaining and heart-warming. Dealing with such subjects as blindness, going to the doctor, transplants, problem solving, and dialysis, Rudy's stories also include fun and humor so children aren't overwhelmed.

      Many of Stacy's stories are written from personal experience. Because of diabetes, she lost her sight at the age of 19 and had her first kidney transplant at 31. In 2009, she needed a second kidney transplant. Her husband Wayne donated one of his kidneys. Even with the many challenges in life, Stacy maintains a positive attitude. She believes that everything happens for a reason.

      Stacy graduated magna cum laude with a degree in speech communication and met her husband, Wayne - truly a blessing. They now live in Apple Valley, MN. with Rudy and his little brother, Boomer. Big brothers Kirby, Dito and Dexter, live in heaven.

      • Children's Program - Pleasant Hill Library - Wednesday December 7th @ 10:30am.


      • Rudy Gets A Transplant
      • Rudy's Check Up
      • What's On My Nose?
      • Rudy O'Tooty - Coming March 2012

      Purple Cow Press


      Using our books as educational tools, I speak to a variety of ages and group sizes in schools, libraries, clubs and organizations.  Subjects vary from blindness, transplants, going to the doctor and problem solving to writing, being an author, the importance of reading, dogs and anything else!

      I have done anything from after school workshops, and single classrooms (about 25 children) to large groups and full school assemblies (approximately 400 children).

      Many events and stories are profiled on our website  Please feel free to visit the site anytime.

      If you would like more details or have questions, please contact me at 952-322-1419 or

      Thursday, November 24, 2011

      Skeleton Letters - Laura Childs

      Skeleton Letters

      by Laura Childs

      Is nothing sacred?

      The last thing scrapbooking maven Carmela Bertrand expected to bear witness to in St. Tristan’s Church was a crime.  But now a beloved member of her scrapbooking circle is lying lifeless next to a smashed statue of St. Sebastian – and a mysterious hooded figure had absconded with an antique silver-and-gold crucifix.

      With the church, a popular New Orleans tourist site, pretty much open to the public, it looks like the police don’t have a prayer of finding the killer.  Good thing amateur sleuth Carmela and her wacky voodoo shop-owning friend Ava are hot on the trail.  With suspects that range from a deliveryman, to the strange Brother Paul, to the cult group The Seekers, Carmela and Ava comb New Orleans for clues.  And end up in a bayou at midnight, stalked by an enraged killer!

      A cross between a cozy and a thriller – a thrillzy! – Skeleton Letters delivers great characters, action, humor, spooky cemeteries, scrapbooking tips, and New Orleans recipes.  This is the Halloween read you’ve been waiting for!


      Laura Childs is the author of the Scrapbook Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.  Her books have been named to the USA Today and New York Times Bestseller Lists, and have been featured selections in the Literary Guild’s Mystery Book Club.  She is a former Cleo Award-winning ad writer and CEO of Mission Critical Marketing.


      Book Trailer:

      Barnes and Noble

      Tea Shop Mysteries
      Death by Darjeeling
      Gunpowder Green
      Shades of Earl Grey
      English Breakfast Club Murder
      Jasmine Moon Murder
      Chamomile Mourning
      Blood Orange Brewing
      Dragonwell Dead
      The Silver Needle Murder
      Oolong Dead
      The Teaberry Strangler
      Scones & Bones
      Agony of the Leaves

      Scrapbook Mysteries
      Keepsake Crimes
      Photo Finished
      Bound for Murder
      Motif for Murder
      Frill Kill
      Death Swatch
      Tragic Magic
      Fiber & Brimstone
      Skeleton Letters
      Postcards from the Dead

      Cackleberry Club Mysteries
      Eggs in Purgatory
      Eggs Benedict Arnold
      Bedeviled Eggs
      Stake & Eggs
      (December 2012)

      Berkley Prime Crime
      ISBN 978-0-425-24389-3

      Thursday, November 17, 2011

      Delicate Armor - Connie Claire Szarke

      Delicate Armor

      by Connie Claire Szarke

      Set in the Upper Midwest, 1950s-1990, Delicate Armor is the coming-of-age story of Callie Lindstrom, a cheeky girl who shares a special bond with her father. After the loss of his baby boy, Will Lindstrom places his energy in young Callie, teaching her his love for the outdoors. Accepted into the world of men within her family and privy to their dreams and struggles, she learns to navigate waves of conflict and loss while realizing her own place in the world. This book is about lost time, the tenacity of the human spirit, and our narrator’s emerging consciousness as she passes from young girl to self-possessed woman. Delicate Armor is Callie’s tribute to the land and to her microcosm of men.


      Midwest author, Connie Claire Szarke, grew up in “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” A writer of fiction and poetry, she also taught high school French for many years. She enjoys playing classical piano, painting, alpine skiing, and kayaking with her Shetland sheepdogs near her home west of the Twin Cities. Much of her work has been published in literary journals and magazines, including The Talking Stick, Dust & Fire, Stories Teachers Tell, Lake Country Journal Magazine, and Community Connections: The Minnesota Project.

      • November 19 - signing at The Reading Frenzy Bookshop in Zimmerman, 11:00-1:00 p.m.
      • November 26 - signing at Cherry Street Books in Alexandria 11:00-2:00 p.m.
      • November 29 - Lake Minnetonka Shores in Spring Park at 2:00 p.m.
      • December 3 - Barnes & Noble Ridgedale/Minnetonka from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
      • December 5 - reading/signing at the Westonka Public Library in Mound at 6:00 p.m.
      • December 6 - Common Good Books in Saint Paul - 7:30 p.m.
      • December 16 - 11:15 a.m. telephone interview with Ron Specker, Party Line Talk Show, KLTF radio, Little Falls
      • December 17 - Valley Books in Stillwater - 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
      • December 19 - Bookin' It in Little Falls - Scrooge Days
      • December 21 - Gillespie Center in Mound - 10:45 a.m.
      Connie is also actively seeking book clubs. Delicate Armor makes for a good group read and discussion regarding the "lost culture" of the 1950s.


      Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and North Star Press of St. Cloud

      North Star Press of St. Cloud

      Thursday, November 10, 2011

      Calling - Sharon Chmielarz


      by Sharon Chmielarz

      In Calling, Sharon Chmielarz recalls the lives of those, who, in Elisabeth Bishop’s words, in “Brazil, January 1, 1502  “... who kept calling, calling to each other...”  They are known and unknown  painters, musicians, the local beautician, islanders and immigrants.  They are subjects for our attention, long overdue.  These are portrait poems serving as windows into the lives of Monet’s egg girl, Galileo’s daughter, the Two Fat Ladies.  They are a record of the people we come from, recorded in lyric and narrative, with dashes of humor and anger, love and sadness at the irrefutable wash of history the poems find themselves in.  They are women who are showcases of strength, reflection, and the ordinary transformed by the desire to be counted.  They seek the remembrance due the neglected.  The poet’s drag-net sweeps them all in. 


      Sharon Chmielarz’s books of poetry include Calling, The Sky Is Great The Sky Is Blue, The Rhubarb King, The Other Mozart,  But I Won’t Go Out in a Boat, Different Arrangements, and one chapbook, Stranger in Her House. Her work has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series, and in ‘99, ‘01, ‘02, ’05, ’07 and ‘10 nominated for a Pushcart.  It’s been featured on American Life in Poetry (‘07) and individual poems translated into French and Polish.  The Rhubarb King, won a Merit Award from the 2007 Midwest Independent Publishers Association. The Other Mozart has been made into a two-part opera. Her book Calling was first runner up in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, 2011, for poetry.

      Feb. 10, 2012:  Banfill Locke Center for the Arts
      early 2012, but as yet undated: North Star Chapter of the German Russians, Berea Lutheran Church, 7538 Emerson Ave. S., Mpls. (Richfield)



      The Sky Is Great The Sky Is Blue (Whistling Shade Press, 2010)
      The Rhubarb King (Loonfeather Press, 2006)
      The Other Mozart  (Ontario Review Press/ imprint W.W. Norton, 2001)
      But I Won’t Go Out in a Boat (New Rivers Press, 1991)
      Different Arrangements (New Rivers Press, 1982)
      Chapter book: 
      Stranger in Her House (Poetry Harbor, 1990) -- contact author through to purchase
      Pied Piper of Hamelin  (Stemmer House, 1990) (out of print)
      The End of Winter  (Crown, 1992) (out of print)
      Down at Angel’s (Ticknor & Field/ Houghton Mifflin, 1994)

      Loonfeather Press

      Monday, November 7, 2011

      Review: Spyder by David Fingerman

      Bottom line:

      This book is hard to classify, but tantalizingly good.  Great read for mature readers--describes sex scenes, drug usage, and violence.


      A streetwise thug named Spyder struggles to overcome his drug addiction, while the world around him keeps trying to drag him back in. 


      o Lots of plot twists that keep you guessing throughout the story
      o As a drug addict, Spyder's an unlikely protagonist.  I found myself sympathizing with him because he took a hard view on all other addicts--thinking they were weaker/whinier than him.  Spyder had an outlook on life that I could respect, even as I disagreed with his choices.
      o Eye-opening revelation for me on the difficulty of breaking out of the addiction cycle.  Excellent consideration on how hard it is to change one's base character.
      o Spyder grows throughout the story, but also suffers relapses as events trigger instinctive reactions.
      o Spyder's voice remains true to the character throughout the story.  There was definitely a feeling of "here's the way I am, whether you like it or not" that made me respect and enjoy the character.


      o Very few. I disagreed with some of Spyder's decisions, but that's because those weren't the choices *I* would make--it was my own bias that got in the way.  For his character, they were justifiable, even when the decisions led him to dangerous consequences.  And that part I liked: his bad decisions had realistic consequences for him.

      I'd recommend this book to mature audiences who enjoy suspense, plot twists, dark humor, and unlikely heroes.

      Full disclosure: How did I obtain this book?

      Purchased myself

      Purchase link

      Thursday, November 3, 2011

      Playing the Hand She's Dealt - David Fingerman

      In the aftermath of "Silent Kill," Louise Miller is an ex-cop whose life could not be more of a mess. Unemployed and addicted to gambling, she comes home from the casino to find her front door unlocked and a corpse sitting on her sofa. Even worse, the dead man is Walter Farkos, a man she arrested shortly before resigning from the Minneapolis PD. Now Farkos' murderer is obsessed with a sadistic game of cat and mouse. The ultimate goal: to destroy Miller piece by piece. If Miller doesn't stop this madman she may not only forfeit her own life, but the lives of everyone she cares about.


      As a student at the University of Minnesota, David Fingerman realized that if he switched his major from journalism to speech, he could graduate that quarter. It was a no-brainer. After twenty years of working for the Hennepin County court system an opportunity arose and he left the court system to do what he loves to do – write. It was a no-brainer. He has published a number stories in magazines and anthologies. “Playing the Hand She’s Dealt” is his third novel. David is married and presently lives in Minneapolis.

      Reading & signing at:
      True Colors Bookstore
      4755 Chicago Avenue S.
      Minneapolis, MN
      November 10, 2011 at 7PM




      L&L Dreamspell

      Thursday, October 27, 2011

      Nice Girls Don't Bite - Joan Sween

      Nice Girls Don't Bite

      by Joan Sween

      When "Transylvania Nasty" collides with "Minnesota Nice" the outcome is hilarious. In this novel, which is definitely intended for laughs, not chills, Erleen and Louise, antiques dealers from the land of Garrison Keillor, come back from a buying trip to Romania to discover they got more than they bargained for. 

      "We can't be vampires! There's no such thing as vampires!"

      "I absolutely refuse to go all crazy and look mean and bite people!" 

      "How are we supposed to put on makeup if we can't see ourselves in mirrors?" 

      After the first shock, they begin to cope like sensible down-to-earth Minnesotans, vowing to lead normal lives, never reveal what they are, and never ever to bite anyone. Then they stumble onto a bank robbery, a murder, and a kidnapping. Attempting to free their kidnapped friends, they confront a Norwegian crime lord whose Colombian partners decide they are witches—"Brujas! Brujas! But after putting ineffectual bullets through the ladies, the Colombians change their minds—"Vampiro!" Reluctantly, Erleen and Louise realize they must behave like "real" vampires in order to put a stop to an international drug ring. Which they do—but without ever biting anyone. 


      In Joan's pre-teen years, she wrote short stories about fairies, and learned to play the piano accordion.  Her father was a construction engineer; they moved a lot. The accordion was easier to move than a piano.  As a teenager in high school she was in the class plays and wrote pep skits.  Pep skits taught her about mystery writing–the home team, like justice, always had to triumph.  In college she was in a multitude of plays, wrote poetry, edited the college newspaper, and got engaged 16 times. 

      She credits her wacky rites of passage as excellent background for writing a novel about perfectly nice ladies who refuse to behave like vampires She's a member of  Sisters In Crime, former Regional Vice-president of Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas, and founder of Minnesota Writers’ Alliance.  Her other books can be found on and her plays with Eldridge Plays & Musicals. Joan lives in Rochester, MN, with two cats who are exasperating and a husband who is wonderfully supportive.

      Feb 10-12, 2012, premiere of Joan's play, "The Magic Flounder," produced by Matchbox Children's Theatre in the Historic Paramount Theatre, Austin, MN.
      May, 2012, book signing sponsored by Minnesota's antiques newspaper, The Old Times at the Prime Promotions Antique Show at the St. Paul State Fairgrounds.  Exact date TBA.
      Plays may be found by searching at: 
      Dealer's Choice:  A collection of humor columns on antiques and collectibles.
      Deathblow:  A detective novel with a serial killer.
      Southern Surrender: A one-act farce.
      Murder By Accident: A full-length farce.

      Thursday, October 20, 2011

      ReadingMinnesota update: New owner - Mike Kalmbach

      Something is different.

      Subtle changes in the text on the right-hand side.

      A new book cover and title.

      A new email address.

      What's going on?

      After more than two years of posts, Beth is moving on to other opportunities. Rather than let the blog fade into the dark realms of the Internet archives, Beth graciously agreed to let me take over. We'll miss her, but I'm sure she'll still stop by from time to time.

      Have no fear. You'll still be reading the same high-quality, Minnesota-centric posts that Beth's been sharing over the past two years.

      The big difference is that I'll be organizing the posts. I will maintain the Thursday posting schedule for the foreseeable future, and already have several authors lined up over the coming weeks.

      I also plan to introduce reviews as time allows. At first, I expect to post approximately 2 reviews per month in addition to the weekly informational posts.

      Who's taking over?

      Mike Kalmbach is an author from southeast Minnesota, and leads the Rochester MN Writing Group. Besides his day job as a software engineer, he also moonlights as a freelance editor. His passion is writing science fiction and fantasy, but he enjoys all well-written material.

      He recently released his debut novel, The Caldarian Conflict, which focuses on a monk caught between a corrupt government and pirates. A mixture of fantasy, adventure, and mystery, this book is sure to appeal to anyone who enjoys a good plot twist. This fantasy novel is targeted for readers 14 and up.

      Want to learn more about The Caldarian Conflict?

      Check it out on Amazon (ebook or paperback), Barnes & Noble (ebook or paperback), or wherever books are sold. Autographed copies (perfect as a unique gift) are available at

      When does this happen?

      This is officially effective today, October 20. I've been making some changes over the past week, so it's still pretty new.

      How do I submit suggestions for Minnesota-related authors, book stores, or other items of interest?

      Send an email to You can usually expect a response within 48 hours. Please specify whether you would like an informational post or a review.

      I'm looking forward to meeting lots of great Minnesota authors. This is going to be fun!

      Thursday, October 13, 2011

      Meaning Beyond Reason - Anthony Caponi

      Meaning Beyond Reason

      by Anthony Caponi

      Meaning Beyond Reason explores the relationship between reason and intuition as it relates to art, education, religion, rhetoric and science. The ideas presented in Meaning Beyond Reason are artist and educator Anthony Caponi’s insights on man and God, beauty, and nature. The book argues that verbal concepts often create false gods, obscure understanding and impinge upon the vital engagement in life. The book explores the ideas that, since he was a young child in Italy, have guided the creation of his artwork and everyday living.

      An artist, philosopher, poet, civic leader and environmentalist, Anthony Caponi is also an educator and professor emeritus of Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minn., where he taught and chaired the art department for more than 40 years. He has brought his wealth of experience and artistic skill together in the creation of Caponi Art Park, a 60 acre outdoor sculpture garden and cultural center in Eagan, Minn.

      At the age of 90, Anthony Caponi is the creator and artistic director of Caponi Art Park and Learning Center, a nonprofit sculpture garden and outdoor performance venue in Eagan, Minnesota dedicated to making art accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. Located on 60 acres of rolling wooded hills, Caponi Art Park and Learning Center is a distinctive cultural center offering free programs and educational experiences in an inviting, natural setting that seamlessly blends art and nature.

      Anthony Caponi does sign books at Caponi Art Park during scheduled artistic and cultural programs.



      Voice from the Mountains: A Memoir
      Boulders and Pebbles of Poetry and Prose

      Nodin Press

      Thursday, October 6, 2011

      Fatal Incident - Jim Proebstle

      Fatal Incident

      by Jim Proebstle

      World War II Conspiracy Inspires a New Novel

      It has been more than 65 years since Japan’s surrender marked the end of World War II. But there are still many secrets yet to be revealed, including what brought down the military transport plane being flown by a young pilot from Minnesota.

      In Fatal Incident (Emerald Book Co., $23.95, May 2011), a new historical fiction novel by Jim Proebstle, a scenario for the real-life crash of an Army Air Transport Command (ATC) aircraft is revealed. To this day, the cause of the 1944 crash in Alaska’s Mount McKinley Range remains a mystery. No bodies were recovered and none of the 20 people onboard the ill-fated flight were ever heard from again. The novel explores the possibility that a conspiracy involving espionage was to blame for the crash.

      The story begins in Depression-era Minnesota with young Nick Morgan and his soon-to-be bride, Martha, soaring high above the clouds over Mankato, Minn., in a plane piloted by Nick. They are excited by where life will take them.

      Once married and with the war on, Nick leaves Martha, now pregnant, behind in 1943 to become a pilot for the Army’s ATC in Alaska. While he’s away, the evident stress on their marriage reveals itself through their personal communications in postcards, letters and the few furlough trips home.

      The extensive military presence in Alaska serves as a strategic defense position against Japan, as well as the perfect Lend-Lease exchange location for U.S. built P-38’s with Soviet pilots in support of Russia’s war with Germany. This opens the door for espionage through a complex network of Russian listening posts.

      Alaska’s uncharted landscape also occupies the attention of high-level Manhattan Project scientists in New Mexico as a possible alternative site for testing the atomic bomb. Nick and his co-pilot, Red Johnson, are tapped for classified flying duty for the brass from Los Alamos as they secretly explore test site options in the remote Yukon Flats area.

      All the while, Vladimir Dubisskiy, an entrenched NKVD agent coordinating Lend-Lease aircraft movement in Alaska, is spearheading a plot to steal the United States’ top secret atomic bomb design documents and test site development plans for Alaska. The Soviet hijack scheme fails with the crash of Nick’s plane on March 17, 1944.

      When search crews finally reach the crash site in about the most inhospitable place in Alaska – an 11,000 foot uncharted section of the McKinley Range – several bodies are found, but many are also missing, along with the classified Manhattan Project documents.

      Fatal Incident challenges us with the possibility that we have never been presented with a complete set of facts surrounding this crash and disappearance of all onboard,” said Proebstle.

      In his review of the book, New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger of the Cork O’Connor series said, “Jim Proebstle has written a unique and compelling story, a true event cloaked in the fabric of fiction. Though much of Fatal Incident is speculative, every consideration is grounded in rock-solid fact. This narrative works on so many levels that it doesn’t matter whether or not you accept Proebstle’s conclusions concerning the mystery at the heart of the story. Either way, you’ll enjoy a hell of a good read.”

      “Brimming with intrigue, espionage, and romance, Fatal Incident is a captivating story of determination and grit set against the backdrop of WWII. Jim Proebstle does a formidable job developing his characters while constructing a chillingly believable story peppered with brilliantly unexpected twists and turns,” said award-winning mystery writer Marilyn Jax, author of The Find and Road to Omalos.

      Fatal Incident is a heart-pounding tale of espionage, suspense, love, geopolitics and heroism capturing a Soviet Union attempt to steal United States secrets of the atomic bomb. I recommend this book to everyone interested in World War II mysteries,” said Bob Bao, author and editor of the MSU Alumni Magazine


      Jim Proebstle is new on the scene as an author. His first novel, In the Absence of Honor, was released in August 2008, and has received positive reviews and industry awards.

      He and his wife, Carole, call northern Minnesota home for the summer months. Deer Park, IL is their permanent residence, close to their two children and five grandchildren.

      Proebstle received his B.A. and M.B.A. from Michigan State University and remains a loyal Spartan. His corporate career in sales and management prepared him to form Prodyne, Inc. – a management consulting firm in which he is still active.

      Thursday, September 29, 2011

      KILLING KATE - Julie Kramer

      by Julie Kramer
      Not all angels are divine...

      As TV reporter Riley Spartz discovers a serial killer drawing angel-shaped chalk outlines around the bodies of his victims, she unearths an eerie legend dating back nearly a century. Tracking the story to an Iowa cemetery, Riley finds an infamous Black Angel monument that may be connected to the string of homicides throughout the Midwest. Now she is up against a delusional young man who believes the statue is urging him to kill.

      "With her newest book, Julie Kramer's reputation and following ought to soar. This wonderfully sardonic look at murder through the eyes of TV journalist Riley Spartz is not only surprisingly poignant, but is a flat-out tour de force of harrowing twists and turns." —NYT bestselling author William Kent Krueger

      "A snappy repartee, tauntingly written, drum tight in its execution. Just good ole' fashioned, gimmick-free storytelling that catches the reader with line one and commands you to finish." —NYT bestselling author Steve Berry

      "Julie Kramer has one of the best new series in crime fiction....You'll be turning the pages all night." —NYT bestselling author Lisa Scottoline

      "Julie Kramer's Killing Kate offers everything a novel should—a most engaging protagonist, page-turning thrills, plot twists, and a host of characters that jump off the page. I loved it!" —NYT bestselling author Heather Graham

      Investigative television journalist Julie Kramer writes a series of thrillers: STAKING SUSAN, MISSING MARK, SILENCING SAM and KILLING KATE—set in the desperate world of TV news. Julie won the Minnesota Book Award and the RT Reviews Choice Award for Best First Mystery. Her novels have also been nominated for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She formerly ran the I TEAM for WCCO-TV before becoming a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS. She grew up on a family farm along the Minnesota-Iowa State line and now lives in White Bear Lake, MN.


      Thursday, September 22, 2011

      Dorie LaValle - by Mary Desjarlais

      Dorie LaValle

      by Mary Desjarlais

      A Minnesota story of moonshine and murder.

      Survival takes many forms...but never the one you expect. Born on the first day of 1900, Dorie finds herself at odds with the world and out of options. When she married Louie LaValle, a local man with an inherited farm, but not the talent or stamina to run it, Dorie is anchored in poverty, childless and tied to someone she doesn't love.

      Prohibition and desperation inspire Dorie to make and sell moonshine to the men in town; soon she makes more money than she ever dreamt possible. To expand production, she enlists freewheeling Victor, who builds a secret distillery in the woods. When Victor appears at her door with a gunshot wound, describing an ambush at the still, it's up to Dorie to protect her future -and Victor- against angry neighbors, a zealous sheriff and the Chicago mob.

      Mary graduated from the College of St. Catherine in 1981. She lives in St. Paul and works for the MN AFL-CIO promoting diversity in the construction trades through teenage and adult training programs. She was a recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant and recently published her first novel, Dorie LaValle through North Star Press, Inc. of St. Cloud. Mary has enjoyed classes at the Loft and the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Program and belongs to the Blue Moon Writing Group. When she is not working on her next novel, she is reading, gardening, or doing a variety of art projects.



      North Star Press, Inc.

      Thursday, September 15, 2011

      Isle Royale - John Hamilton

      Isle Royale
      by John Hamilton
      Shipwrecks, gangsters, and the mother of all storms. Living in a lighthouse can murder.

      The year is 1924, at the height of Prohibition. The place: Isle Royale, a remote island on Lake Superior. Clarence MacDougal, keeper of Wolf Point Lighthouse, stands ready to guide sailors through treacherous waters.

      One storm-tossed night, French-Canadian bootleggers arrive. The gang’s leader is Sean LeBeck, a former lover of Collene MacDougal—the lightkeeper’s wife. LeBeck is determined to rescue Collene from her dreary life and rekindle their old passion, even if it means taking her off the island by force.

      The lightkeeper’s son, Ian, escapes during the storm, only to stumble upon a hidden cove, home of the last remaining members of the Coast Guard cutter Chippewa. A dark secret forced the crew to banish themselves. Now, given one last chance at redemption, the ancient mariners set out on stormy Lake Superior in a desperate attempt to save the day.

      John Hamilton is a bestselling author and journalist. His work includes books about fantasy and folklore, science fiction, the national parks, and pirates. Lewis & Clark: Adventures West (Sparrow Media Group) was a finalist at the 17th Annual Minnesota Book Awards in 2005. He is a two-time Golden Duck Award winner for excellence in children’s science fiction literature. John can be found most summers hiking along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. He is also an award-winning photojournalist and nature photographer.


      Amazon Kindle

      Barnes & Noble Nook

      Thursday, September 8, 2011

      Legacies of Faith

      by Robert Roscoe and John Roscoe

      Photography by Doug Ohman

      Scores of remarkable brick Gothic and Romanesque style Catholic churches, perhaps the most significant religious architecture in rural Minnesota, are clustered within the rural core of Stearns County, seeming to be hidden in the wide open spaces of central Minnesota prairie. These remarkably designed churches form the basis of the recently published book Legacies of Faith – the Catholic Churches of Stearns County, written by John Roscoe and Robert Roscoe, and published by North Star Press of Saint Cloud. Renowned Minnesota photographer Doug Ohman’s 180 color images illustrate their magnificent interiors and richly ornamented details. Stearns County’s culturally distinct rural hamlets, many only five miles apart, are similar to their European counterparts. These iconic structures came into form by German and Polish immigrant farm communities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

      Legacies of Faith – the Catholic Churches of Stearns County brings to light the history of how these magnificent churches came into being from extraordinary circumstances of historical, social and ethnic forces, and why these communities created such great works of architecture.


      Robert Roscoe
      Robert’s primary work is Design for Preservation, devoted to residential renovation, with an emphasis on historic preservation. His professional experience includes 36 years of architectural office experience. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and five years in the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. His writing has been focused on architectural aspects of historic preservation-related issues. Robert served as editor of the Minnesota Preservationist, a publication of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota for 14 years.

      John Roscoe
      John’s writing and historical research has developed from his educational career, teaching literature and writing for the Aitkin and Albany, Minnesota school districts. His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from St. Cloud State University with a major in English as well as graduate studies at St. Cloud State and the University of Minnesota. The research involved in writing this book has led him to an even greater appreciation of the immigrant experience and how it produced the remarkable outcomes embodied in its churches.

      Doug Ohman
      Doug Ohman is an acclaimed photographer with extensive experience in photography, has produced images from every county in Minnesota, many which appear in a wide array of leading publications and exhibits of historic preservation. These photographs aptly express the architectural attributes of the buildings while revealing the regional characteristics of their setting.

      “A sumptuous visual sampling of awe-inspiring churches, many well over 100 years old.”-- Dennis Dalman, Sartell Newsleader

      Brothers John and Robert Roscoe have combined John’s familiarity with Stearns County and Robert’s expertise in architecture with photographer Doug Ohman’s professionalism to create an intriguing and lovely book.” -- Sue Halena, St. Cloud Times

      “Beautifully put together….it should sell like hotcakes.” -- Dave Wood, Pierce County (WI) Herald

      We appeared on a segment of Life to the Max hosted by Mike Max of WCCO Television. Watching this episode will give the viewer a visual sampling of the churches we wrote about in Legacies of Faith. The link to this segment follows.

      We were interviewed by morning host Bob Hughes on WJON Radio in St. Cloud. The link to this interview follows.

      North Star Press of St. Cloud