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By Julia Claiborne Johnson

$31.99 William Morrow

From author Julia Claiborne Johnson comes her debut novel BE FRANK WITH ME, now out in paperback, the story of what it means to be different in a world that’s expecting something ordinary.

Literary legend M.M “Mimi” Banning has found herself in a conundrum; after being holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years she’s lost her fortune to a Ponzi scheme and now she’s broke. In order to recover, the reclusive author must write a new book, something she hasn’t done in decades, and to ensure that she delivers her manuscript in a timely fashion, her New York publisher offers to send her an assistant. But Mimi is a thorny character who’s unused to unwanted company and only agrees to entertain the notion if the candidate is not an Ivy Leaguer or an English Major and who can drive, cook and tidy while being a sane, quiet computer whiz that’s good with kids.

Enter Alice Whitley a young woman who fits the bill and has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Put to work immediately as a full-time companion to Frank, Mimi’s brilliantly eccentric nine-year old son, Alice wonders if she’s out of her depth as Frank has the intellect of Steven Hawking, the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930’s movie star and very little in common with other fourth graders. As she leaves Mimi to her own devices, Alice learns what it is that makes Frank tick and becomes consumed, not only with finding out who his father is but also where his eccentric and gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the equation. And as Mimi’s deadline draws near and an unfortunate series of events take everyone by surprise, Alice makes a discovery that will change the course of their lives forever.

From the very first word of this irrepressible book I was swept away by Julia Claiborne Johnson’s writing and her ability to deliver the bundle of joy that is a great read. Deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny this story is all-at-once unpredictable and satisfyingly comforting. I fell head-over-heels in love with each and every one of these characters who tap-danced in my imagination long after I’d finished the final sentence and I couldn’t help but recommend it to every person I met, even strangers in line for the ladies room.

LIFE LESSONS 125 Prayers and MeditationsLIFE LESSONS 125 Prayers and Meditations
By Julia Cameron

$15.00 Tarcher Perigree

I have been a huge fan of Julia Cameron’s work since I first delved into The Artist’s Way over two decades ago. Since then she has continued to create a series of inspirational books, the latest of which is LIFE LESSONS, a powerful collection of prayers and meditations that can get your day off to a peaceful start.

As usual, Cameron’s approach to spiritualty is winsome, witty and poetic while at the same time being deeply thought provoking. As you begin to delve into this collection of Life Lessons, you’ll feel as if you’ve been invited to join in a conversation that’s already in progress and that makes you want to settle in and stay. And while each of these meditations is meant to direct us towards an issue we may or may not be seeking an answer to, Cameron gives us a reason to ask the question and permission to reflect and listen for a response.

Ms. Cameron understands how to teach without being preachy and how to make connecting with God a conversational experience.  This collection has something for everyone and for almost every occasion whether it be grieving loss, trying to overcome a habit or just needing a reminder to look outside ourselves and behold the beauty of the world around us. 

EDISTO STRANGER An Edisto Island MysteryEDISTO STRANGER An Edisto Island Mystery
By C. Hope Clark

$17.95 Bell Bridge Books

Award winning writer C. Hope Clark delivers another one-two punch of intrigue with EDISTO STRANGER, the fourth book in her popular Edisto Island Mystery series.

It’s a wonder that Chief Callie Jean Morgan is still standing after surviving her own near-drowning and the double-decker deaths of a promising young officer and Ex-Chief Mike Seabrook, the man she’d finally allowed herself to fall for. What isn’t a wonder is that Edisto Beach Town Council is holding her feet to the fire for both of these deaths and her son Jeb is back in protector mode because she and the bottle are keeping company again. But when she gets a call from Jeb about a dead body floating in Bay Creek there’s not a minute to waste thinking about whether or not she has the stamina or sobriety to function; she has no choice but to do so.

It doesn’t take long for Callie to figure out that the dead man was a retired FBI agent. But what she can’t explain is what he was doing on Edisto. Enter SSA Knox Kendrick, a former colleague of the deceased who wants to help Callie despite the fact that the FBI has washed their hands of the case. Callie feels uneasy about the whole thing but eventually gives ground as she and Kendrick discover that, not only did the dead guy follow a cold-kidnapping case to Edisto, but his murderer more-than-likely lured him there and is still at large. And as she juggles her grieving for Seabrook while working with a rogue FBI agent and trying to solve two cases at once, as well as attempting to be a responsible, sober parent, Callie and everyone around her wonders if she’s got the mettle to go the distance, and she can’t help but wonder that herself.

Clark really knows how to hook her readers with a fantastic story and characters that jump off the page with abandon. Un-put-downable from the get-go, this is a mystery that will certainly not disappoint those who are already fans of the author as well as those that are reading her for the very first time. Once again, I overshot my bedtime by a mile several nights running but, as always, reading Clark’s latest was worth every missed wink of sleep. / Issue 194 - July 2018
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