Celebrating Juneteenth

In honor of today, here is a small handful of great books by African-American authors that I recommend.

The links will take you to my blogs with more about the books and why I recommend them, with multiple ways to obtain them.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: powerful contemporary fiction for YA and older.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi: excellent and engaging nonfiction on the title subject written for young people.

The Lost Tribes by Christine Taylor-Butler: fun adventure fiction for middle schoolers.

For All Time by Shanna Miles: captivating time-travel love story for YA and older.

Many of these are outside my usual genres of fantasy and historical fiction, but I’m so glad I gave them a try, and hope you will take a look, too. (They’re listed in the order I read them.)

More Publication News from My Cohort

My Running Wild Press cohort is filled with talented authors writing with great variety. I’m very pleased to share the news of Suzanne Mattaboni’s new release: Once in a Lifetime published by TouchPoint Press.

In 1984, punk is rampant. Andy Warhol rules. And 20-year-old art student Jessica is sick of all the excitement going on without her. Hungry for the life she’s convinced is just beyond her fingertips, she sets her sights on an avant-garde study abroad program in London she can’t afford. Meanwhile, hometown boyfriend Drew wants to see other people if he’s not exciting enough to keep her stateside. Jess and her buddies rent a beat-up apartment, trolling new wave clubs and waitressing double shifts in New Hope, PA, a cool and artsy restaurant town on the river, to scrounge-up tuition money. Then Jess meets Whit, a steamy daredevil guitarist who crawls through her window and makes her head spin like a record. The girls deal with cheating waiters, mystics, a military drag queen buddy, a Svengali bouncer, and the specter of AIDs. Before long, Jess has to decide if the men in her life will leave her as damaged as her cracked-glass mosaic art projects—and whether they’ll stand in the way of her dream semester in New Wave London.

Kirkus Reviews calls Once in a Lifetime an “ebullient and engaging story of youthful longing and independence. An enjoyable, starry-eyed coming-of-age tale.”

Here’s what Jess, the main character, says: “I’ve waited long enough for my life to happen. I want to be neck-deep in something that keeps me up all night. Something so cool I’ll be petrified and sick to my stomach at the mere thought of it. I want to absolutely fry in inspiration, then capture it in oils and charcoals and bits of broken glass, in a piece of art that oozes magic and fear and possibility. I want to find a city. An adventure. A song. Something. To hell with the American Dream. I want a reason to kick and scream.”

You can buy Once in a Lifetime from Amazon

You can also read Suzanne’s fine short story in Running Wild Press Anthology of Stories Vol. 2, available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Bookshop.org.

Author photo of Suzanne Mattaboni
Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni, fiction writer, ‘80s podcaster, essayist

Find out more about Suzanne’s works and connect with her at:

onceinalifetimenovel.com

suzannemattaboni.com

Twitter @suzmattaboni

facebook.com/suzanne.mattaboni

Instagram suzannemattaboni, Suzanne Mattaboni80s

Banzai Retro Club podcasts

Congratulations on this exciting news, Suzanne!

Publication News from My Writing Cohort

My colleague from Running Wild Press, Elan Barnehama, recently shared some great news: his second novel, Escape Route, is coming out May 4th.

Escape Route is set in New York City during the tumultuous late 1960s. The story is told by teenager Zach, a first-generation son of Holocaust survivors and NY Mets fan, who becomes obsessed with the Vietnam War and with finding an escape route for his family for when he believes the US will round up and incarcerate its Jews. Zach meets Samm, a seventh-generation Manhattanite whose brother has returned from Vietnam with PTSD. Together they explore protest, friendship, music, faith, and love during a time littered with hope and upheaval around the globe.

I first read Elan’s writing in the Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 2. His short story about these same characters, “Just Be,” was moving and memorable; it was based on a section of Escape Route. I’m so pleased the full story has now been told and can be read.

Here is an early review:

“Elan Barnehama has given us a powerful coming of age story set against the tumult of the 1960s, the War in Vietnam, and the power of memory and Jewish identity in a family of Holocaust survivors. This is a beautifully rendered novel, populated by unforgettable characters in an unforgettable time. Barnehama is a literary craftsman at the top of his game. Superb.”
— Frye Gaillard, author of A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, an NPR Great Read 2018

You can order Escape Route from

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Bookshop.org

and anywhere books are sold.

Cover Art for Escape Route by Elan Barnehama

Elan’s upcoming appearances:

May 12th Readings on the Pike, Hannah Grieco, Virtual

May 14th LitFest Pasadena: in-person reading at Vroman’s Bookstore.

May 22: Literary Modiin, Julie Zuckerman, Modiin, Israel. Virtual.

June 15: New Books Network, GP Gottlieb. Virtual

You can find updates and more about Elan on his website.

And you can read my interview with Elan here.

Congratulations, Elan! I am so pleased for you.

Readers, check back for more publication news from writing friends.

Updated! Publication News for Frama-12

My friend Aud just shared this good news: her fantasy novel Frama-12 is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Update as of May 7th: you can now also pre-order the e-book and paperback on Barnes and Noble and the paperback on Bookshop.org! All sites have the same prices for the same formats.

Frama-12 is a fun, light-hearted YA fantasy with depth and heart. If you’ve read my blog recently, you know I’ve read this novel since it was a youngster of a book, and I’ve watched it grow up in our critique group. The characters Winnie, Mikey, and Kip have won my heart, made me laugh, made me worry, made me cheer.

Here’s how Aud describes it:

“Winnie Harris, following a warrior code in honor of her mother’s fighting spirit, will do whatever it takes to protect her little stepbrother, Mikey. Kip Skyler, charming to everyone but Winnie, impresses her stepbrother with his sleight of hand. Now Mikey wants them to pass through a time tear into Frama-12 and save the inhabitants from an invasion. She’ll be the general and Kip the wizard.

Winnie sees two problems with the mission. Frama-12 is just a fantasy game, right? And Kip is majorly annoying. But she’s only half right. If the incompatible teens can’t work together, an enemy could march through a very real time tear and attack Earth.”

I am so excited to read Frama-12 in its grown-up form! It comes out July 13th, 2022 and I’ve already reserved my copy. Like I’ve said before, I kind of feel like a proud aunt waiting for my niece and nephews to step out on stage for their big debut.

You can read about Aud’s adventures on the journey toward publication with Wild Rose Press on her blog. It’s been an exciting ride to follow!

Frama 12 Cover Art

“Alternate worlds? Alien armies? Summer vacation just took a wild turn.”

Book Review: For All Time by Shanna Miles

As soon as I read the blurb on For All Time by Shanna Miles, I was sure I would like it: a “romance that follows two lovers fated to repeat their story across hundreds of lifetimes, who hope to break the cycle once and for all.” I was still wowed by just how riveted I was. I cared about Tamar and Fayard from the very first page. Which is all the more remarkable since modern urban fantasy isn’t my usual inclination.

Then Shanna Miles braids in more of their stories, from the wealthy West African empire of Mali in the 1300s, to 1920s Philadelphia. Tamar and Fayard have their own souls in each time, but their lives vary drastically from period to period, which makes each of them very different people depending on when we find them. I quickly came to care about their fates in each era. Every time they are drawn together by love, and every time they are torn apart.

Their story has some excellent twists – some quite shocking. The best is at the end. I deeply dislike spoilers, so I will try to give nothing away. I’ll only say I’m very glad to have read For All Time, and I recommend it to readers who love well-written love stories that span time and space. You can get the hardback and audio book right now through all the regular channels, and pre-order the paperback for September 6th. When I checked today, I was very pleased to see that it was among Bookshop.org’s Romance Picks by POC Authors, and it’s also Amazon’s Editors’ Pick for Best Young Adult.

Thank you, Shanna Miles! I’m so grateful to have gotten your book via your raffle, though I would have been very glad to have bought it!

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