Book Review: Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen

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Title: Life Unaware
Author: Cole Gibsen
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Genres: General Fiction, Young Adult



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Life UnawareLife Unaware
Cole Gibsen
Entangled Teen, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-62266-396-5
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Regan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…

Especially Regan Flay.

I’ve had the feeling for some time now that bullying is an epidemic in growing mode despite all the efforts that have been made in recent years to draw attention to the problem and effect a change. I suppose all the public notice has made some potential bulliers think twice which is a good thing, of course, but I do wonder if it seems more widespread because it really is or because more people—victims—are willing to come forward. I hope it’s the latter.

To keep any campaign like anti-bullying alive and fresh, we need to look for less obvious hooks and Ms. Gibsen has done just that by focusing on the bully rather than the victim. Understanding even just a little how a person becomes a bully can only help; perhaps such knowledge would help identify a potential bullier before she or he reaches that stage.

It would be easy to demonize Regan for her behavior but that would not make the situation better. Truthfully, you could say she was destined to become this hateful person because she gets so much pressure from her mother to be the top dog in every way. She still has to take responsibility for her own actions, though, and she really doesn’t do that very well, making it hard for me to have a lot of empathy for her at first. She grew on me as the pages turned and I began to see her as a girl who wants to be a better person and who’s willing to finally reach out to the one person who might be able to help her get there (although he does make a monster of a mistake).

There are two essential messages in Life Unaware: (1) bullying in any form is a bad thing that needs to be stopped and (2) redemption is possible. Both are messages we all need to heed, especially middle grade and high school kids who are the most vulnerable to being the bully or the bullied. Cole Gibsen has crafted a story that focuses on both quite nicely.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.

About the Author

Cole GibsenCole Gibsen first realized she different when, in high school, she was still reading comic books while the other girls were reading fashion magazines.

It was her love of superheroes that first inspired her to pick up a pen. Her favorite things to write about are ordinary girls who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

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Book Review: The Dead Days Journal by Sandra R. Campbell

The Dead Days JournalThe Dead Days Journal
Volume 1
Sandra R. Campbell
CreateSpace, March 2015
ISBN 9781506100401
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The daughter of a radical doomsday prepper, Leo Marrok spent her entire life preparing for the end. A skilled fighter and perfect marksman, Leo is her father’s second-in-command when Armageddon comes to pass. Together, they lead a group of survivors to a secure bunker deep in the Appalachian Mountains.

Vincent Marrok is willing to take extreme measures to repopulate their broken world. Leo’s refusal marks her as a traitor. With father and daughter at odds for the first time, their frail community is thrust into turmoil. Until the unthinkable happens, a blood-thirsty horde arrives. The impending attack will destroy all that they have worked for.

To protect her home and everything she believes in, Leo puts her faith in the arms of the enemy-a creature only rumored to exist-the one she calls Halloween. An alliance born out of necessity evolves into feelings Leo is ill-equipped to handle.

The Dead Days Journal is a post-apocalyptic story of love and family told through Leo Marrok’s first-hand account and the pages of Vincent’s personal journal, giving two very different perspectives on what it takes to survive.

Mature themes, adult language, sexual situations, violence and gore. 18+

The problem with many post-apocalyptic stories, whether book or film, is that there is frequently a strong feeling of unreality in the sense that it’s hard to believe that such a scenario could come to pass. Something about the story itself feels like pure fiction rather than the kind of science fiction that opens a window on what our future could be. There’s almost a feeling of adventure.

Then there is the kind of post-apocalyptic story that Ms. Campbell has crafted in which you feel immersed in the darkness of spirit that surely must develop when the world you know has come to an end. The brutality of survival is what we really should expect and it’s what makes The Dead Days Journal so believable from the start.

Leo is a young woman who has lived nearly four years in a fortified cave in the Appalachians built to give a handful of people a chance to survive. The 22 members of this small band have learned what it takes to live under perilous circumstances and with dangerous shortages and the tale focuses largely on the leader, Vincent Marrok, and his daughter, Leo.

Personalities become intensified during such stressful times and Vincent has become very controlling, generally feeling that his opinion is the only right one. His wish to repopulate is certainly not surprising but, unfortunately, Leo is the only female likely to be able to bear children. Imagine what it must feel like to know that your father is so “invested” in your sex life—it gives new meaning to having a desire for grandchildren, doesn’t it?

I liked Leo a great deal, partly because she’s such a strong woman in every way that matters and partly because she’s subject to normal emotions that any of us might feel in her situation. Vincent, on the other hand, raised my hackles and, although I understand his motives, I couldn’t like them. The character I thought was least well-developed was Lincoln. No 11-year-old boy in our own time would be so childish and it’s even less likely that he would be so living in a world of such hardships. And then there are Ben, the man who seems to be the perfect match for Leo despite all her misgivings and Orrin, an enigma who has an undeniable effect on Leo.

As post-apocalyptic fiction, this is a good, strong story but I did not care for the introduction of a supernatural element even though certain characters are quite memorable. Don’t get me wrong, I like supernatural and I usually like it blended with other genres but it just didn’t work for me in this case. Still, I’ll be interested to see what lies ahead for these people who have managed, so far, to survive the unimaginable though they apparently have no idea that they have not yet encountered the worst. Sandra R. Campbell knows how to craft a tale and I look forward to more from her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.

Writer’s Block

Rebecca JaycoxRebecca Jaycox grew up in the tiny town of Berryman, which borders the Mark Twain National Forest and the Courtois River about 70 miles south of St. Louis. The beautiful landscape fed her imagination, and she began writing stories at age 10 and never stopped. Always seeking adventure, Rebecca moved to France after she graduated college with a journalism degree to teach English at a French high school. Bitten by the travel bug, she has recently visited Italy, Greece, Austria, Spain, and finally made it to her bucket-list destination of Istanbul last summer. Rebecca now lives in New York City with her husband, Gregory. She is the curator and program director of the YA Lit Series at the 92nd Street Y—one of New York’s premier cultural centers. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction. The Other Inheritance is her first novel. 


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When I wrote The Other Inheritance, I had all the time in the world. Not literally, of course, but I didn’t feel any pressure to produce other than the pressure I put on myself. Then a miraculous thing happened. Rocking Horse Publishing picked up The Other Inheritance, and I was officially a published author in November 2014. It was the best feeling in the world to have an almost eight year journey pay off. That’s right; almost eight years!

As wonderful as it felt to be vindicated as a writer, The Other Inheritance does require a sequel. Like right now, which brings me to my little dilemma. I am currently in that horrible, terrible state of mind known as Writer’s Block. If you’re a writer, you know how utterly paralyzing Writer’s Block can be. You suffer from extreme guilt, bouts of depression, and general feelings of worthlessness. It’s like you are in an abusive relationship with your unfinished manuscript.

The Other InheritanceFor a little while, I thought I had found the solution. It had become impossible for me to write at my computer. I absolutely could not do it. Then I discovered if I just put pen to paper, I could write again. I finished three chapters. Eureka, I was cured! Only I wasn’t. I’m back in the same boat I was before, and I feel like I’m on a dingy in the middle of the ocean and land is no where in site.

I turned to the original Star Wars trilogy to break my slump. I just finished Jedi yesterday and still no spark. So I guess the Force has failed me. Now it’s time to buckle down and get real. I have to ignore the guilt and the paralyzing fear and just write. That’s a monumental task but now I actually have people depending on me. People who read The Other Inheritance and loved it. Just like Luke, I need to believe the impossible.

Book Review: A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

A Snicker of MagicA Snicker of Magic
Natalie Lloyd
Scholastic Press, February 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-55270-7

Felicity is an intense happiness, a particular kind of joy….a wondrous joy, and the most fitting name for the charismatic main character of this happy, hopeful little tale. Having accepted the gypsy life-style as her mural-painting mom carries her and her young sister Frannie across the country; Felicity was surprised by the tug she felt entering Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, “A Proper Place to Call Home”. Granted, she knew this was her mother’s home and that they’d be bunking with her mother’s siblings, but it was more than that.

While most townsfolk will say that Midnight Gulch “used to be” a magical place, a few insist that a snicker of magic remains. A century-old curse holds that leftover magic dormant, until the riddle that evoked it has been solved. That snicker gently tugs at Felicity, seemingly soliciting her assistance. As she is inexplicably smitten and eager to bring back the Rain Conjurers, Shadow Catchers and families that could turn themselves invisible or bake secrets into pies, that made sense.

The splendiferous town captivated Felicity, but The Beedle mesmerized her. For half of a century, the anonymous do-gooder was a local hero, covering payments when someone fell behind, lifting spirits with kindness and spreading good-will. When The Beedle reveals himself to her, an immediate friendship is formed. Awe-struck and amazed by all of his good deeds, Felicity feels timid because her only talent is “catching poems”.

As some folks see auras, Felicity sees words. Whirling around, captured in thought bubbles, jumbled on top of one another; she collects the most appealing ones, just as someone else may collect marbles or baseball cards. Ironically, the very thing she treasures the most, stays stuck inside of her. When she opens her mouth to speak, her cherished words betray her. Not with Beedle, and certainly not when Uncle Jonah played his banjo, but still often enough for apprehension to envelop her.

Joy is quickly replaced by concern. Felicity spots the signs that warn: her wandering mother isn’t keen on staying. Desperate to establish roots, Felicity resolves to solve the riddle, unleash the magic and make a permanent home. Not just because she feels happy here; but her tiny family, Florentine with her bag of burdens ….every single person and the community as a whole, would benefit greatly. With the sweetest intentions and commendable selflessness, Felicity is utterly inspiring.

Ms. Lloyd
perfectly placed the irresistible Felicity as our narrator and in doing so, gleefully snatches the reader from reality straight into the heart of Midnight Gulch. The faint tinkling of wind-chimes will tease, a whiff of sugar wind tantalizes and the bluegrass music taps toes. Reading A Snicker of Magic is like visiting the grooviest small town you can think of…..noshing local delicacies, dancing “free as a mountain girl”, and discovering a secret….and my favorite part: “It’s possible to have a happy ending, even if the ending isn’t what you imagined.”

While this book is appropriate for and certainly appealing to third/fourth grade readers, it would be more than a disservice to limit the audience. I can’t imagine the reader (regardless of his age) that wouldn’t find this delightful, inspiring story worthy.

Reviewed by jv poore, January 2015.

Book Reviews: Allure of Deceit by Susan Froetschel and Risking Elizabeth by Walter McCloskey

Allure of DeceitAllure of Deceit 
Susan Froetschel
Seventh Street Books, February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-61614-017-5
Trade Paperback

Murder, fraud and greed on a grand scale, clashes of culture and intriguing misunderstandings litter the well-trodden ground in this novel. The strong and vibrant writing helps draw the reader in to a world long hidden from western understanding. And even with the recent deluge of news focused on the wars in Iraq Afghanistan, and Pakistan, western knowledge is rooted as much in lack of understanding of Muslim and tribal mores. Dissecting the motives and the perpetrators of these crimes and the application of justices is extremely problematical.

All of that requires a carefully constructed, well-written narrative with characters that speak to us even through the veil of poorly understood history and culture. And here it is. Add the setting, that mysterious –to Western sensibilities—culture of the Middle East, and one has the makings of an enthralling novel. And here it is!

The writing is superb, the tension almost unrelenting and the incisive eye of this author is everywhere available. This is a fine novel and deserves every rave it will acquire.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.


Risking ElizabethRisking Elizabeth
Walter McCloskey
Berkley, August 1998
ISBN: 978-0-425-16413-6
Mass Market Paperback

This is the author’s debut novel. It takes the reader to enthralling places inside New Orleans society. One is dazzled by the convoluted slick politeness on the surface, even when one is aware of the chicanery and double-dealing that takes place at the same time on other levels. None of the activity chronicled by McCloskey is unknown to the wheelers and dealers in other cities around the world, but because New Orleans is the setting, there seems to be a special aura about this novel which enhances the plot and the characters.

Harry Preston is a successful widowed lawyer with an old-line prestigious firm. New Orleans is the city where he grew up and where legions of his relatives live and work. And play. So Preston brings his young son back to the bosom of his family. But Harry Preston discovers that he knows less about the convoluted undercurrents of the city and its power brokers than he imagined. How little he really knows he really begins to discover when he meets beautiful, willful, socially suspect, Elizabeth Bennett.

Set during Mardi Gras, Preston finds himself falling into a complicated swamp infested with some of the worst and some of the best of New Orleans residents. Big money, big oil, big power and murder are skillfully revealed. The pace is swift, the characters ambiguous and complex, and the atmosphere moody, damp and dark, even in the hot Southern sun. Well-written and very entertaining, rife with tension, Risking Elizabeth carries the reader carefully and completely to its inevitable conclusion.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2014.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook and Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

Every Last PromiseEvery Last Promise
Kristin Halbrook
HarperTeen, April 2015
ISBN 978-0-06-212128-8
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

On the surface, this is a story about the aftermath of rape—and so it is—but it’s also a story about how there can be more victims beyond the person who suffers the actual assault. Those peripheral victims need to cope in a different sort of way and the guilt they feel can be enormous, guilt that they could have done something more, guilt that they might do the wrong thing after the fact, guilt that they’ve kept secrets, maybe even guilt that someone else was the one attacked. These people are survivors in their own way, certainly not lessening the impact of the true victim’s pain and recovery, but survivors nonetheless.

Unfortunately, Kayla is not the heroic figure we would like her to be and it’s very easy to decide that she’s a coward, more interested in her own well-being than anyone else’s. That actually is true but I think it’s important to acknowledge that many of us, myself included, have looked the other way at least once in our lives. Can we honestly say that we’re “better” than Kayla is?

Ms. Halbrook‘s intent is laudable and I wish I could have connected with Kayla in a more positive way but her narcissism is just a bit too overwhelming. Yes, I understood her but I didn’t care much about her. Still, the author has an important message and I hope this book will end up encouraging others to stand forth when circumstances call for it. In the meantime, I believe this author is one worth watching and I’ll be reading more by her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.


Conspiracy of Blood and SmokeConspiracy of Blood and Smoke
Anne Blankman
Balzer + Bray, April 2015
ISBN 978-0-06-227884-5

From the publisher—

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives in England, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside down. When she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped—and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time—or will Hitler discover them first?

My appetite for young adult World War II-era fiction was sharpened when I was introduced to a wonderful book by Elizabeth Wein and I’ve been on the lookout for more ever since that one. The first book by Anne Blankman, Prisoner of Night and Fog, captured my attention in a very good way and I was really excited when  I heard about this sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. While I don’t think it has quite the intensity of Prisoner, it still kept me engrossed till the very end.

The years leading up to war are uncomfortable everywhere but Gretchen and Daniel really do think they have found a haven of peace in England and so, in a fashion, they have. Away from Uncle Dolf, Gretchen has a chance at a happy life and Daniel is a large part of that. Chance, though, has an ugly way of wreaking havoc and Daniel soon finds that he has no choice but to return to Germany, having no idea, of course, that he is about to be in even graver damage than he expected.

Gretchen and Daniel are an interesting pair. At times, they seem oblivious to the dangers facing them at nearly every turn but, at the same time, they have a certain gravity about them. Most teens in earlier generations must have been less frivolous than we see so frequently today for a lot of reasons including shorter life expectancy, poorer health, more manual labor and so on. In 1933, we have to add in a growing awareness that bad things might be happening in Germany, fueled by the devastating effects of the Great Depression. Hitler rose to power in part because of the need Germans had to rise above their massive discontent and only a few were able to see past his charisma to the nascent evil behind the facade. That Ms. Blankman has given her characters the opportunity to understand what was happening is powerful but I’m glad she also lets these teens make mistakes and fail to grasp the horror that was coming in just a few years. Very few did so I would not have believed it if Gretchen and Daniel had too much foresight.

The murder and the race to exonerate Daniel work as good reasons to get the kids back in Germany but it’s the rise of the Nazi Party and all that entails that provides the real story here. It’s one we should never forget and authors like Ms. Blankman who create such entertaining tales that focus on historic truth help us hold on to that knowledge. Along with such weighty issues, though, I relish keeping company with Gretchen and Daniel and am looking forward to the next book.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.

A Marriage of Words—and a Giveaway!

Bruce DeSilvaBruce DeSilva’s crime fiction has won the Edgar and Macavity Awards; has been listed as a finalist for the Shamus, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and has been published in ten foreign languages. His short stories have appeared in Akashic Press’s award-winning noir anthologies. He has reviewed books for The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Publishers Weekly, and The Associated Press. Previously, he was a journalist for forty years, most recently as writing coach world-wide for the AP, editing stories that won every major journalism award including the Pulitzer. His latest novel, A Scourge of Vipers, has been published by Forge in hardcover and e-book editions.

It’s been nearly two years since Mikaila, our adventurous teenager, moved out of our house in Howell, NJ, to study at a little liberal arts college that lies between the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains and the cobalt-blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Howell is a pleasant Leave It to Beaver suburb, but the college is located in paradise. Although our girl has come home a few times to visit, she’s made it clear that she’s fallen in love with the California-Nevada border country and is never going to move back in with us.

I admire her independence and can’t argue with where she has chosen to live, but part of me has been hoping that she’d change her mind. I long to play catch with her in the yard again, watch her cavort with our two big dogs, and listen to her singing off-key to the music playing in her headphones. I miss her like crazy. But a few months ago, I finally faced reality, packed up the little-girl things she’d left behind, stored them away in the basement, and transformed her old room into a book-shelf-lined office for the other writer in our family – my brilliant wife Patricia Smith.

For years, our dining room had served as Patricia’s office, but often she’d wander upstairs and plant herself next to me at the huge desk in my upstairs office so we could write side by side. Mostly we worked in silence, but every now and then she’d read something to me, or I’d read something to her, and ask: “What do you think of that?” I worried that once she settled into her the comfort of her new digs, that would change. I’m grateful it hasn’t.

I’m a former investigative reporter, newspaper writing coach, and news service editor turned crime novelist. Patricia is one of those rare writers who is comfortable in any genre. She’s written articles for major magazines, essays for literary journals, the companion book to the PBS series, “Africans in America,” and even an award-winning children’s book. But she’s best known as a poet—one of the finest working in the English language.

Our rare writing partnership makes my work, and hers, better.

What makes our working relationship rare is how well it works for both of us. Friends who are also married to other writers tell us they can’t work together. When they try, it usually ends in a fight. Patricia and I understand exactly what they mean.

I used to be married to a writer for People Magazine, and whenever we shared our work with one another, it ended in disaster—every well-meaning suggestion taken as unwelcome criticism. Patricia was once married to another poet, and whenever they talked with each other about their work, it ended in a fight.

Ever since Patricia and I set up housekeeping together seventeen years ago, I’ve edited every line of her poetry, and she’s edited every line of my crime novels. And we never fight.

Part of what makes the partnership work is that we understand and respect each other’s passions. And, paradoxically, the other thing that makes it work is that our writing styles couldn’t be less alike.

Patricia’s writing is rich and sensual. She loves words and tends to use lots of them. My writing is tight and spare, sometimes to the point of sensory deprivation. I help her make her poems tighter and crisper. She helps me make my crime fiction more descriptive and lyrical.

When we first began to work together, Patricia tended to back into her poems—something I called “throat-clearing.” Back then, I often crossed out the first stanza or two to show her where the real poem began. She always understood, and my suggestions have changed the way she writes. It’s been years now since I’ve had to X out a stanza.

Today, my editing consists of little more than circling an occasional word or phrase. Each circle, she knows, means, “I don’t know what you should say here, but I think you can do better than this.” I never presume to rewrite her, and I rarely suggest a word, leaving it to her to find the right ones.

Patricia edits me very differently. When she sees a passage that she thinks is too spare, she sits at her computer and writes, often transforming a paragraph or two into three or four pages of lyrical, descriptive prose.

When she hands it to me, I always think it goes on way too long. And, of course, her narrative voice sounds nothing at all like mine. So I boil down what she’s written into two or three paragraphs that inevitably make my work much, much better.

But perhaps the most important thing she does is help me write credible love scenes (both on and off the page). Liam Mulligan, the investigative-reporter protagonist in my series of hard-boiled crime novels, didn’t have much luck with women in the first two books. But in the third, Providence Rag, he fell hard for a brilliant, beautiful attorney. When it came to writing the scenes between them, I was lost. What would she be wearing? How would he respond to it? What would he say to her? How would she answer? What would she feel when he reached out and touched her arm? What would she do?

“Bruce,” Patricia would say, “you HAVE made love before, right?” And then she would sit down and bat out a long love scene that I could fiddle with and make my own. Once, when Mulligan did something to offend his girlfriend and needed to apologize, I thought he should buy her something. But what? I didn’t have a clue. Patricia’s response? “Get her something she can wear against her skin.”

Patricia is highly competitive, however. Our marathon Scrabble games, which she wins more than two-thirds of the time, are always intense. So she sees our writing careers as a competition between us.

When her poetry collection, Blood Dazzler, was named a National Book Award finalist in 2008, I praised her to the skies. Her response: “Yeah, but you WON the Edgar Award.”

Since then, the “competition” has had a clear winner. I speak at Mystery Writers of America? She reads her work at Carnegie Hall and the Library of Congress. I’m named a finalist for the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony awards? She wins two Pushcart Prizes, the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Phillis Wheatley award, the National Poetry Series award, the Bobbitt Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She even intruded on my turf, penning a noir crime story—the first short story she ever wrote—and winning the Robert L. Fish Award for it.

Now, as my forth Mulligan novel, A Scourge of Vipers, arrives in the bookstores and I struggle to meet the deadline for the fifth, Patricia is completing two volumes of poetry, writing more poems to accompany a book of photographs about the Chicago blues scene, and working on a non-fiction book.

But when all that is done, we plan to take our writing partnership to the next level. We’re going to write a crime novel together. It will be set in her native Chicago in 1968, when the Westside neighborhood where she lived as a child was destroyed in the riots that followed the Martin Luther King assassination.

Once, a journalist interviewing me about my latest book asked: “What’s it like to be the second-best writer in your family?”

“It’s a daily humiliation,” I joked. But the truth is, I know how fortunate I am to be married to this amazing woman and have her as my writing partner.

Now if only Mikaila would come home for another visit . . .


A Scourge of Vipers

A Scourge of VipersTo solve Rhode Island’s budget crisis, the state’s colorful governor, Attila the Nun, wants to legalize sports gambling; but her plan has unexpected consequences. Organized crime, professional sports leagues, and others who have a lot to lose or gain if gambling is made legal, flood the state with money to buy the votes of state legislators. When a powerful state legislator turns up dead, an out-of-state bag man gets shot—and his cash-stuffed briefcase goes missing—Mulligan finds himself the target of shadowy forces who seek to derail his investigation by destroying his career, his reputation, and perhaps even his life.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a hardcover copy of A Scourge of Vipers by Bruce DeSilva. The winning name will be drawn Monday evening, April 27th. Open to the US and Canada.