Suffused with the spirit of the ’60s, Tramontano’s is a warm and engaging debut.


An affirming story of sisterhood and second chances in the 1960s and ’70s.

When the love of Lisa Stern’s life dies in a car accident, she’s left to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Though she’s a smart, attractive and self-possessed 20-something, without her longtime boyfriend (and one-time college professor), Mac, Lisa loses herself—and her ability to cope. The novel begins with Lisa’s journey out of Boston to Cape Cod, where she finds solace in the company of a widowed Portuguese baker. The two women’s unlikely friendship allows Lisa to begin to make sense of her loss and inspires her to open a women’s community center to help others get back on their feet. With a new plan, and her best friend from Boston, a hard-edged single mother, in tow, Lisa returns to her hometown of Albany, N.Y., and to the overbearing Jewish family she fled years earlier. Mimicking the alogical structure of grief, much of the narrative is nonlinear: scenes of Lisa and Mac’s romance, her budding friendships in college, as well as her political awakening in the early 1960s, are interspersed carefully throughout—Tramontano has quite a knack for introducing new information from the back story in order to inform the reader's understanding of what’s happening in the present. The book leans on a few clunky devices—a dead grandmother who frequently gives advice from the other side—and the writing is sometimes hokey and heavy-handed: “The ocean gleams sapphire”; rooms are “hungry for life”; and women are prone to “silently [scream] into the black night.” Tramontano’s writerly strength lies in her characters. More often than not—and there are a lot of them—characters are complicated, flawed and believable. Tramontano portrays Lisa’s troubled relationship with the architect assigned to work on the women’s center in Albany particularly adroitly, using it to reveal that Lisa’s perfect lost love might not have been so perfect after all.

Suffused with the spirit of the ’60s, Tramontano’s is a warm and engaging debut. 

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463520250

Page Count: 304

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.


Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...


Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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