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The MoonStone Girls

The MoonStone Girls by [Brooke Skipstone]

Brooke Skipstone’s The MoonStone Girls is the story of Tracy, a seventeen-year-old who leaves her home to discover herself and pursue her dreams. She and her brother are gay, and when this fact is revealed to their family, her father violently opposes it. The turmoil of the Vietnam war, the pain of losing her beloved brother, and the calling of an unknown girl from Alaska push Tracy to undertake a soul-searching journey. 

We see how Tracy cross-dresses as a boy and starts dating Ava because society wouldn’t accept two girls who are in love. Tracy continues to defy gender stereotypes and attempts to find her own place in the world. She finds her ideal partner in Jackie, and what follows is a beautiful love story. 

The author’s handling of the lesbian relationship is different from standard romance tropes. Their relationship is shown to be deeply embedded in friendship, understanding of the mutual struggles, and revolting against a homophobic society. This powerful emotional turmoil is delivered through potent and impassioned language that will steal the heart of readers. I really enjoyed how the physical proximity between the women has been described with such clarity that the reader can fully grasp the nuances of their relationship. 

The stigma surrounding the queer community in the 1960’s has been portrayed articulately through the stories of Tracy, Spencer, Jackie, and Jeff. Sadly enough, the stigma still continues to pose a threat to the community, and that’s why the novel is a relevant read today.  

Tracy’s emotionally-resonant journey of self-discovery, dealing with grief, bearing the rage of a homophobic father, and ultimately finding her way through life and putting her heart and soul into the music band MoonStone Girls is captured in vivid emotional detail that feels authentic and is relayed in a story that is absolutley enthralling.

Author Brooke Skipstone is an exceptional storyteller and one that is able to capture the uniqueness of their characters in a way that makes those pieces really stand out in ways that are captivating. The LGBTQ+ commentary throughout the novel is sincere and sheds a much needed light on the variety of issues that the community faces even today. While this novel is high in social commentary it never forgets to entertain the reader with intriguing characters and a compelling plot that will make this book hard to put down.

Pages: 397 | ASIN: B09MP9FF3Q

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Fires of Social Change

Julius Thompson
Julius Thompson Author Interview

A Brownstone In Brooklyn follows a young man and the struggles he faced growing up in the 60’s in Brooklyn and how these struggles were impacted by the Civil Rights Movement. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for A Brownstone in Brooklyn came from my time as an undergraduate at The City College of New York and what I had to overcome to graduate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The sixties in Brooklyn was an era that had a personality, a feel, and a life-force that changed a generation. I felt this energy and experienced these fires of social change. I wanted to put this into words on a paper.

What were some driving ideals behind Andy Michael Pilgrim’s character development?

Some of the driving ideals was a strong family bond and a relationship to every person in the Brownstone where I lived in Brooklyn. Andy was the Rock Star and hope of people who moved from the oppressive south and wanted the young people to have a better life than they had. He was a hero, a vision of the future, that blacks could advance and compete with white American young people. It was a strong racial identity and that fueled this push for success. Andy wanted to rebel, but knew he would be letting a lot older people down. H was full of respect the older generation.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

As a product of the inner City, I wanted to show that Bed-Stuy and other African-American enclaves were populated with good people who wanted to achieve goals and success and not what was pictured on television and in the Black-Exploitations movies of the era.

Black Americans read and created literary works of significance.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Killer Kudzu (Sci-Fi): Publication Date January 2022.

Killer Kudzu is a pre-apocalyptic, semi-horror novel where science has gone terribly wrong. There is a southern twang in the characters voices and a distinctive down-home feel in the locale. It is written with a social twist and a commentary about the relationship between blacks and whites in the south. Killer Kudzu is in the vain of the creeping menace like Pandemic, The Atlantic Gene, The Hot Zone and The Day of the Triffids.

Killer Kudzu Book Trailer:

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Website

A Brownstone in Brooklyn chronicles the life-altering events that shape the future of Andy Michael Pilgrim, a young man growing up in the turbulent sixties.

Letting Loose

Jolly Walker Bittick
Jolly Walker Bittick Author Interview

Cape Henry House tells the story of a group of sailors that come together to party and relax but find a deeper camaraderie through all the mayhem. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Firstly, the book is important because it is my first publication. Second, the book is based on a true story, and over the years a handful of the people that were a part of the real-life house and myself have gathered annually to catch up. After many discussions about the wild nature of the actual house, it seemed fitting to write a book.

This book is based on a true story. What were some aspects that you felt had to be told accurately and what were some things you took creative liberties with?

The dynamic of “B-man” and “Dolvar” vs. the married couple “Penley and Anne” was told accurately as it was the main source of tension that made the wild events at the house even more memorable. Almost all of the events at the house are told accurately as well, however some characters are fictional or multiple characters were written in to represent who was actually one person at the real-life house.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

The wild nature of the parties, but also the extreme dynamic between the sailors working hard on duty and letting loose just as hard when off.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is “Bag ‘O Goodies” and it was originally intended for release in January 2022. After careful consideration, I will be publishing it later next year to spend more time promoting “Cape Henry House.”

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Based on a true story, Cape Henry House is a coming of age epoch about a ragtag group of sailors and their partying adventures from a bygone era, as told by former Petty Officer Third Class Bosner. When two of his best friends move into a house off base, they believe it will be a place to relax and have a few beers. For three weeks in early 2008, it’s a place to roar and have a few kegs! From bars and diners, to dance floors and strip clubs, Cape Henry House proves to be the focal point where everyone convenes. Through laughter, mayhem, drinking, and drama, the group discovers a deeper camaraderie that sees them off as some are sent overseas, others find love, and all are left with lasting memories to cherish for a lifetime!

Embracing Each Other’s Humanity

Donna Peizer
Donna Peizer Author Interview

Somewhere Different Now follows two spirited teens struggling to maintain an inter-racial friendship that the world seems to want to tear apart. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Loss is what undergirds the experiences of both Annie and Clydeen. I had developed the Annie character right up to the point where she finds the lean-to on the mesa. I knew I wanted to explore the nature of society in post-WWII America. Who was benefitting from the newfound national pride, optimism, and prosperity, and who was not, but I had yet to formulate a means of exploring that idea.

In terms of white society, Vivian says it best when she wonders why Annie is asking questions about the Holocaust when “everyone else” is just trying to forget about all that and have a nice life. Everyone? Really? I had no idea that a character like Clydeen would show up when Annie returns to the mesa after an absence, but there she was. That opened a way to juxtapose how differently Annie (white) and Clydeen (black) experienced the world, in terms of not only the depth of the tragedies responsible for each of their wounds, but also their fears and the resources available to them to cope and possibly even to survive.

Annie and Clydeen’s relationship is well developed and one I enjoyed following. What were some driving ideals behind the development of their relationship?

Trust is certainly on important one – the difficulty of forging and maintaining trust as Annie and Clydeen become more and more enmeshed in each other’s lives. They must dive deep to find a ground of commonality strong enough to sustain their relationship.

Fully embracing each other’s humanity is undoubtedly the most important and the most touching aspect of their relationship. At first, Clydeen is something of a curiosity to Annie, a playmate, a distraction from her loneliness and depression. For Clydeen, Annie is someone who is willing to sustain her physically while she tries to figure out what to do next. But because they spend so much time together away from other influences, their true selves emerge – even those parts of themselves they may not have known existed, such as Annie’s inner generational racism; Clydeen’s envy of the house Annie lives in and all she thinks it means; and the fears aroused in each of them about the consequences of being discovered together.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Intergenerational racism and its effect on a young mind. In Annie’s case, she had a propensity to turn away from the racism of her father and other extended family members. But when push came to shove, her main goal was to get Clydeen out of her life before anyone found out about her. But she cared about Clydeen too much by then to simply abandon her. Internalized racism was in the driver’s seat. It took Annie a while to realize it, and once she did, she had to find the courage to accept the consequences of turning her back on her cultural conditioning.

Courage. From the beginning of the story, Annie wants to transform what she sees as her lack of courage. Annie finds the courage to choose Clydeen and fully embrace her, despite the consequences she fears from her racist father in particular.

Control. Annie believes she can control how the summer on the mesa will come to a close, if only Clydeen will cooperate. Clydeen, however, lives day-to-day and is unwilling or unable to peer into the future the way Annie does. Until Ulie arrives, she believes she is dependent on the vagaries of a fate she has no control over, so why bother trying to figure it out?

Agency. Ultimately, Clydeen has to disregard what Annie thinks is best for her. Part of her realizes that at least a part of Annie’s agenda is grounded in her fears about her father finding out about the two of them. In other words, Annie’s plans are tainted. Clydeen has to step away from what Annie wants and find a path to her own agency so she can begin to pick up the pieces of her life.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book will deal with some of the same issues a few years down the line. This book will be written in third person past tense rather than first person present tense. One of the main characters will be a white woman named Stella whose sheltered suburban life as a homemaker has become untenable. Annie and Clydeen will appear again, as will Imani Jackson. The plight of gay youth who have been rejected by their families will figure into the story, as well as a renegade priest and a young girl with amnesia. At this point, I don’t have any idea when it might be out.

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The consequences of racism in the 1950s threaten to destroy a hard-won inter-racial friendship between two energetic, quick-witted teens, who struggle to come to grips with their differences.

White middle-class Annie Cahill and Clydeen Hollifield, a Black girl recently arrived from the cotton fields of Texas, have taken refuge over the summer in a rocky hideout high on a mesa in rural Colorado. They have grown to care deeply for one another, but as the summer comes to an end, their bond is tested to the max. Annie is terrified that her abusive, rabidly racist father will discover their relationship. She finds herself caught between the dictates of her upbringing and loyalty to her friend. Clydeen, on the other hand, is paralyzed by her deep distrust of white people, even Annie at times, but it appears that finding her missing mother will require her to reach out for their help.

When all seems lost and it’s possible that Annie and Clydeen’s relationship may come to a disastrous and painful end, their secret hideout is invaded by a former World War II resistance fighter. Who is this stranger from out of nowhere, and what does he want? Is he simply the kind, brotherly figure he appears to be, or are there more mysterious dynamics at play?

Rising Together 

Rising Together, by K.M Sparks and Christopher Cole, is the complex story of two young teens who are going through hardship and rely on one another. The main character, Tim, struggles with his home life and his best friend, Haze, helps him navigate his troubles.  

Tim is a young boy living in an abusive situation. His father is an alcoholic who verbally and physically abuses his family. Tim’s mother tells him and his brother to keep their situation a secret so that they are not separated. Keeping his home life a secret causes Tim to act out at school and get into trouble. His best friend, Haze, has a supportive family and excels in school. When Tim’s life turns upside down, Haze stands by his side and supports him through his transition.

Authors Sparks and Cole have a writing style that any reader would enjoy. The characters show substantial development throughout the book. Readers will enjoy watching the relationship between Tim and Haze grow into something more than best friends. Their relationship is one that teenage readers will be able to relate to.

The language in this contemporary novel is mature for the main characters only being twelve, but given their situations, growing up fast will have that impact. Developing independence at an early age is needed for Tim to survive the life he was dealt.

Rising Together is a compelling coming of age novel, with drama that will appeal to fans of young adult novels. This heartwarming book is a blend of hardships, friendship, and growing into oneself. If you like reading about a budding romance, taking a chance, and a light story then this heartfelt book is for you.

Pages: 172 | ASIN : B09L57CBQ2

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Brilliant White Peaks

Brilliant White Peaks by Teng Rong is a spellbinding novel that follows a pair of wolf cubs who are born in a valley surrounded by mountains. Their parents teach them how to hunt a variety of different animals. But when winter comes and snow covers the mountains, the family has to leave their home in search of food. When the family is attacked by another pack of wolves, the two pups are separated from their Ma and Pa. White Ears is injured and the pair of young wolves have to wait for her to heal before they go in search of their parents. They set out toward the ocean where they hope to find their Ma and Pa waiting for them. When White Ears and her brother reach the coast, will they finally be reunited with their parents?

This epic adventure story is told from the point of view of a wolf. Written in the first person perspective, the narrator is never given a name. He thinks and talks as one would imagine a wolf would, he uses paws and wolf-lengths as units of measurement instead of the human equivalents. Teng Rong opens the novel with descriptions of the two wolf pups venturing out of the den for the first time at the beginning of the story, and discovering a whole new world of sights and smells and sounds and creatures. This opening transports readers into the world he has created, propelling them into the mind of a young male wolf and setting the stage for a fast paced journey that he is about to undergo.

After the main wolf protagonist is separated from his parents readers will get to know his parents through his memories of their advice. Although White Ears and her brother had been taught to fear wolf strangers, the pair is willing to take in other wolves who were alone without a pack and make them part of their family. Watching how these two adolescent wolves adapt to the struggles they face and grow from them is fascinating. I enjoyed the wonderful character evolution these wolves go through during their journey as readers will see them mature as the novel progresses.

Brilliant White Peaks is a riveting adventure novel for young adults and teens and that will capture the heart of animal lovers of all ages. The unique point of view of this novel, along with it’s engrossing storyline and compelling characters, make this a captivating coming of age story that will be hard to put down.

Pages: 237 | ASIN : B09F2LY8F6

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A Sense Of Wonder

Author Interview
Rosemary K Tompkins Author Interview

The Zodiac Traveller follows a teenage boy on a quest to prove his claim as the heir to the Kingdom of Adastra. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for my story, I guess, came from Tolkien’s ‘Lord Of the Rings’. I’m probably one of his biggest fans, and while I didn’t even try to compete with Tolkien (not many authors can) in my opinion anyway he is one of the best. So I went ahead and gave it a shot. And the other is my great interest in astrology.

What was your favorite character to write for and why?

Oh definitely Galaxius. I particularly liked writing about Boris the character in Scorpio, among others.

What was your approach to writing the interactions between characters?

My approach to writing the interactions between the characters came mainly from a sense of wonder and innocence something you don’t see much of these days.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am 3/4 way into writing my next novel which is totally different from this one. It is romance fiction, I haven’t named it yet. ‘Tulips from Amsterdam’ Maybe?

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

After his father had been killed, a teenage boy discovers that he is the true heir of the Kingdom of Adastra. He bears the task of a long journey which takes him through the lands of the twelve zodiac signs.

As his father lay dying he handed Galaxius an Amulet with three missing stones.
“Take this and wear it always”, his father had croaked. “You must locate the missing stones and the Tablet, it will prove who you are.”
Little did Galaxius know what lay ahead of him after setting off to fulfill his fathers last dying wishes.

Along the way he meets a dragon, a donkey and a friend named Starlet.

Galaxius soon learns how valuable the Amulet is when they are pursued by an enemy in the form of a shape shifting crow, the enemy that killed his father.

Can Galaxius fulfill his fathers dying wishes or will he also die trying, just like his ancestors before him?

I Needed To Tell Ruth’s Story

Author Interview
Peggy Wirgau Author Interview

The Stars in April is based on the real life story of a Titanic survivor and the journey that led her to the ship. What inspired you tell Ruth’s story?

In 2012, during the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, I discovered among the survivors the name of a girl whose parents were missionaries in India. Twelve-year-old Ruth Becker was separated from her family as the Titanic lifeboats were loaded, yet she managed to share her blankets with others and offer a handkerchief to a stoker who had injured his finger.

What would make this young girl act so bravely when she must have been terrified? How did she feel about leaving her home in India, and what led to her decisions in a lifeboat full of strangers that cold, dark night? As I asked myself those questions, I began researching and realized I needed to tell Ruth’s story.

What were some aspects of the story you felt had to be accurate and what were some aspects you took creative liberties with?

 I knew I wanted to tell what happened as truthfully as possible, so I gathered all the information I could on Ruth and her family’s life in India, their long voyage to England, their stay in London, and their experiences aboard the Titanic. I paid particular attention to Ruth’s recollection of the events after the collision with the iceberg and what took place in the lifeboats and following their rescue. I filled in the story with fictional characters Ruth could have met, along with several subplots to show Ruth’s development and gradual change of heart from when she leaves India up to the most terrifying night of her young life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

 It’s a coming-of-age story, with courage being the most important theme throughout. In the beginning, Ruth knows she has none. On her long journey, she observes it in others and learns from them, taking small steps and seeing her world in a new light. Then, everything culminates as the Titanic sinks, and Ruth must draw from the well of her own newly-acquired courage as she fights to survive and face an unknown future.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

 My next book is also based on a true story, set in New York City during the American Revolution. It’s still in a rough draft stage and I have a lot of work and research ahead, but I’m hopeful that it can be published within a year.

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Based on the True Story of Twelve-Year-Old Titanic Survivor, Ruth Becker 

“Sometimes we have to go a long way to find out who we are.” 

The year is 1912. When doctors in India are unable to treat her baby brother’s illness, Ruth’s missionary parents decide there is one solution: move her mother and the children across the world—to Michigan. 

But India is the only home Ruth knows. In a matter of days, she must leave Papa and all she loves behind, abandon her dream of one day playing violin in the Calcutta Orchestra, and embark on a rollicking, four-week journey across the Arabian and Mediterranean Seas, followed by the voyage to New York aboard the luxurious, ill-fated RMS Titanic

Ruth’s story is one of courage and self-sacrifice as she earns her sea legs and faces the unknown, culminating in a desperate, tragic night she will never forget.
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