In this edition of Indie Spotlight, our monthly thematic roundup of BookLife titles, we’re celebrating works of fiction about striking out for the unknown and poetry about love, loss, and identity.
About the book: Birdwild is a heartwarming African American fictional story about the true meaning of family and togetherness from the perspective of protagonist Bree Breeze. What Bree uncovers is that, in her family, skeletal enigmas from the past run deeper than the roots of the tall pine trees that stand along the pastured fields of the Breeze farm.
Author statement: “I’m the founder and creator of the group Free to Be Penned Up, a writing club for young future authors and artists passionate about their work. Since its conception, the club has aspired and propelled several writers and artists to the next level. Birdwild is my debut novel and the first in a three-part series.”
Cute for a Black Girl
About the book: Cute for a Black Girl is a coming-of-age story that follows Chloe Wilcox, a beautiful, smart, and talented African American girl with a promising future. Though her beginnings were rough, she was adopted by a rich, successful, and loving father and then whisked away to a great neighborhood with a top-notch school system. When Chloe is left unconscious in the ER, her family and friends come together to support her and to try to find out how she ended up in such a predicament. This diverse group of unlikely associates must put aside their differences and unify to discover the truth.
Author statement: “I am an African American author native to Washington, D.C. In the last several years, news and social media have been flooded with images of race-driven police brutality and social injustice. Throughout my life, I, too, have had instances in which I or a loved one was unfairly treated due to race, sex, or sexual orientation. Many of those injustices were subtle yet harmful nonetheless. I wanted to bring a voice to those of us who suffer in silence.”
The Jesus Nut
About the book: This story of friendship and faith is set within a bizarre satirical pilgrimage in search of a remarkable relic.
Author statement: “The Jesus Nut began from the title! Years ago, the first time I heard the term, I said: ‘I have no idea what it’ll be about, but someday I’m going to write a book with that title.’ I had only the skeleton of a story for more than a decade, but I finally decided to let the characters take me wherever they wanted to go and began writing in summer 2019. While the wacky premise remains unchanged and I maintained the satirical tone I always envisioned, I dare say my characters took me on a journey that showed them to be far deeper, far better people than I ever imagined.”
About the book: Bahar uproots her life and leaves her family, friends, and a promising legal career in her native country to move to the United States and start a family with the love of her life, Omid. They have a happy marriage filled with love and devotion as they raise their two precious boys without any adversity. That happiness is shattered the day Omid receives a devastating diagnosis.
Author statement: “Although Remembering Hope is fiction, the book was inspired by true events. It took me about 2.5 years to write this book. At times, I had to stop and deal with the raw emotions ignited within me when writing about Bahar’s journey. Because I was familiar with some of the circumstances I wrote about, I was keenly aware that these events could have easily happened in my life.”
Second Chance Magic
Michelle M. Pillow
About the book:
So far, Lorna Addams’s 40s are not what she expected. After a very public embarrassment, she finds it difficult to trust her judgment when it comes to new friendships and dating. She might be willing to give love a second chance when she meets the attractive William Warrick, if only she could come to terms with what her husband did to her and leave it in the past. How is a humiliated empty-nest widow supposed to move on with her life? It’s not like she can develop a sixth sense, séance her ex back, force him to tell her why, and get closure. Or can she?
Author statement: “Order of Magic is my new women’s fiction series featuring women 40-plus. You might have heard several of us authors talking about paranormal women’s fiction online, but I want to talk a little bit about why we’re doing PWF. We are not inventing books with 40-plus heroines. We are hoping to define a place for them amongst other genres. Older women rock. They know things. They’ve been there. They are worthy of their own literature category.”
Voyage Out: The Complete Series
About the book: This is a historical coming-of-age tale loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey, about two young women born into New York’s ruling elite who sail to Europe to embark on a grand tour in the summer of 1929. The friends find themselves entangled in intrigues, parties, motorcar races, misadventures, and scandal as they attempt to navigate a path past the dangers—and, voyaging home on the eve of the Black Tuesday Wall Street crash and a world on the brink of change, to reclaim a future beyond the one awaiting them.
Author statement: “The idea for this story was planted in my head many years ago, when I saw an image of two girls on an old stone bridge observing contemplatively the railway tracks underneath the bridge, stretching into the distance. The image seemed to vibrate with metaphorical possibilities. John Dryden’s words ‘Beware the fury of a patient man’ struck me in a similarly dramatic way. The story grew organically from there, watered by my intertwining love of literature (Homer amongst so many others), history, travel, and roses.”
About the book: Walker’s Way follows Joe Walker’s journey from slavery to freedom and self-determination. Along the way he becomes a soldier, a settler, a cowboy, and a bounty hunter. Although fictional, Walker’s Way reflects the real-life stories of thousands of enslaved people who were “set free” after the Civil War to pursue lives of uncertainty and deprivation.
Author statement: “I have been a fan of westerns since childhood. However, the books, TV shows, and movies I consumed all depicted western heroes and villains mainly as white men. I wrote Walker’s Way to help set the record straight for anyone interested in the whole story.”
About the book: These poems are for those who have been broken, to remind them that pain will pass, only to come again, the same as each season. Solace is always present in nature to aid in our survival.
Author statement: “Bleeding Flowers is a deeply personal collection of poetry about the loss of a lifelong friendship and family, and all the inner turmoil and pain that exists as time goes on through and around that loss. I have always connected with nature, especially the ocean, in a meaningful way, so, as the collection goes on, I turned to nature to help me through the grief and appreciate its plentiful beauty when it can often feel like everything else is crumbling.”
I Asked the Wind: A Collection of Romantic Poetry
About the book: This collection takes readers on a journey into our profoundest passions and heartbreaks through poetry.
Author statement: “This book is a collection of my memories. Fifteen years of love and loss. I remember when I wrote each poem, who I wrote it about, and what I felt when I wrote it.”
Mental Streams: Poems of the Heart and Soul
Henry Lee Thomas
About the book: This collection of poetry and flash fiction stories hits hard at emotions that are ever-present in the human psyche.
Author statement: “From Black Lives Matter to Covid-19, events from the last couple of years have produced a firestorm of feelings and emotions in me. I chose to exorcise some of my pent-up stress in the form of poetry.”
About the book: Ryan Meyer departs from the horror themes of 2018’s Haunt in his new collection of poems, Tempest. He explores fear, hope, and self-identity through fictional vignettes and surreal personal accounts.
Author statement: “Tempest is both an account of self-discovery and an outlet for my own hopes and fears regarding the future. This book helped me come to terms with myself, as someone in the LGBT+ community, as a writer, and as a person. The writing process wasn’t necessarily linear, as I had sat on some of these poems for years, but, as I crafted this book, the pieces fell into place. I’m proud of this book and hope it speaks to readers who are trying to figure it all out.”