“Red Cloud Pistachios” by David J. Heslop
“These Barren Hills” by David J. Heslop
These two novels should be read in order. “Red Cloud Pistachios,” introduces the small agricultural community of Red Cloud, located somewhere around Willcox, where the protagonist, Joseph Maxwell Johnson, known as “J.J.,” runs his inherited pistachio grove. His partner is a former Mexican national named George Velazquez, who is a bit of a nag. J.J. is a bit of a layabout. Red Cloud is a bit scruffy but full of interesting characters who interact, play out their lives and finally resolve most of their problems.
Comes “These Barren Hills,” and Red Cloud is under siege for its water rights as an unscrupulous copper company, waiting to scoop up tons of ore-bearing soil, takes over. When copper prices fall, the results are predictable: the mine closes. The results are not pretty. Heslop, a transplanted Bostonian, won a “Readers Favorite” award in a 2011 Arizona statewide writing contest for “Red Cloud Pistachios.”
“Coverboys & Curses” by Lala Corriere
(Bridge Publishing Co., $13.49)
This ultra-complex murder mystery includes inherited curses, a wicked, charismatic psychologist (addicted to cocaine), a popular magazine devoted to photos of (almost) naked gents and in-depth investigative journalism, and several love stories — one involving a big league baseball pitcher. And with all that, you have just scratched the surface of “Coverboys.” Corriere dedicates it in part to Sidney Sheldon, whom she identifies as her mentor.
“Sword of Her Spirit” by Mary Beth Young
An examination of childhood sexual abuse is central to this intense story about a serial killer whose motivations are brought to light by a reporter at a small town newspaper. The story is told from several angles as the reporter discovers her past is not too dissimilar from the killer’s.
“Searching For Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment and Hope” by James T. Webb.
(Great Potential Press, $24.95)
Webb, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association whose successful career has been devoted to working with gifted and talented children, writes about the symptoms besetting idealists and optimists and offers strategies for dealing with them.
“Inheritance” by Irma Sheppard
Sheppard, whose bio identifies her as a Tucson psychotherapist in private practice, writes about her family, beginning in Europe in the 1930s and then in Canada and the United States. The poems are simple, easy to read and filled with personal details of living and working. Sheppard is also an award-winning short story writer.
“Sammy Goes to Beirut” by Jacquelyn Kirkis
Sammy, a dark brown Siamese cat, has spent his long life traveling around the U.S. with his peripatetic military family. Eventually they all wind up, when Sammy is 18, in Lebanon. During his lifetime he shares the family’s affection with a number of other pets (including an unfortunate hamster). This affectionate tribute to a cat, who seems very like a dog, is loving and heartfelt.
“The Miss Illegal Alien Beauty Pageant” by Frank de la Cruz
De la Cruz, who identifies himself as a political activist, has concocted a fantasy beauty contest in which the contestants represent Europe and Mexico (and one is a “dreamer.”) As they are presented, instead of an “applause meter,” the meter reports new deaths among the border crossers from Mexico.
“Bently and the Crooked Carrot” by Maryam Wade, illustrated by Sandi Baker
When Bently Brown and Ferguson Foster go on a weekend Bun Scout camping trip, the goal is Bun Scouting’s highest award, a Crooked Carrot. It all turns out surprisingly well for the two likable rabbits.
“The Boomer Generation: A Baby Boomer’s Survival Guide” by Michael W. Bush
Bush, an accountant, offers an apocalyptic view of what’s going to happen when Social Security goes broke, which he predicts will be soon unless the federal government tightens its belt, sells off some of its assets — Yellowstone Park anyone? — and pays down the national debt. And, passes term limits on members of Congress.