Six Sizzling Reads To Warm Up a Winter's Long Weekend!
This issue of The Minerva Reader has so much to offer! It's a long weekend so stock up with these books and escape into these great reads!

We have poetry, an underwater sci-fi espionage thriller, a cozy set in Marketville (see Newmarket!), a fast-paced thriller set high in the sky, a rather risqué romp into the life of a high-class callgirl with a fair amount of explicit eroticism and a lovely wander among the psychics and into the world of mystics!

THE MOTHER SUITE by Ruth Zuchter (AngelHousePress)

I’ve long admired the work published by AngelHousePress. I was first introduced to them with Of Being Underground and Moving Backwards by Heather Babcock which was listed on The Minerva Reader when I first started the site. Heather has a book scheduled with Inanna in 2020, Filthy Sugar and I was delighted to read an early copy of the book – readers are in for a treat with Filthy Sugar!
And, most recently from AngelHousePress, and part of today’s features, is The Mother Suite by Ruth Zuchter.

Through letters, diary entries, snippets of remembered conversations and post cards,
Ruth Zuchter collages together a portrait of a complicated mother-daughter relationship in The Mother Suite.
Maternal relationships are seldom straightforward. In Ruth’s words: “Through letters, diary entries, snippets of remembered conversations & post cards, The Mother Suite collages together a portrait of the complexities of a mother-daughter/daughter as mother & caregiver relationship.”
And, what a powerful, compelling read it is. I feel like this collection speaks not only to the relationships between mothers and daughters but also to the complexities of the relationships we have with ourselves, our internal dialogues, observations and self-flaggellations. Being human is such a complex, wonderful, terrible mess and this collection speaks to all of that and does it so very beautifully. This is the kind of work that you could pick up on any given day and find a few sentences that sums it up exactly – you think, yes! That’s exactly how I’m feeling now and then you go about your day, cheered.
THE WAR BENEATH by Timothy S. Johnston (ChiZine)
Living and working underwater can be a dangerous thing. First the bulkheads sweat, then there’s a trickle of water, and then in an instant you’re gone. The only thing left is a bloody pulp in the dark water and crushed bone fragments on the seafloor.

And you can’t bolt to the surface in an emergency . . . The Bends will get you. But that’s not the worst. When you’re living underwater and also working as a spy for your city, that’s when things get really dangerous.

Truman McClusky has been out of the intelligence business for years, working the kelp farms and helping his city Trieste flourish on the shallow continental shelf just off the coast of Florida. Until his former partner shows up, that is, steals a piece of valuable new technology and makes a mad dash into the Atlantic. Before he knows it, Mac ends up back in the game, chasing the spy to not only recapture the tech, but to kill his former friend.
But when he learns the grim truth behind the theft, it sends his stable life into turmoil and plunges him into an even deadlier mission: evade the submarines of hostile foreign powers, escape assassins, and forge through the world’s oceans at breakneck pace on a daring quest to survive, with more lethal secrets than he thought possible in his pocket.
The future of the city depends on McClusky . . . if he can make it back home.
I was immediately drawn in by the cover, with artwork by Erik Mohr (Made by Emblem) and the cover design by Jared Shapiro. Beautiful work!
And I loved the story – such a great concept of cities under the seas and the writing was so cinematic that I felt like I was there, in the seacar. It felt a little hard to breathe at times, which was the writer’s intention and it was very well done! Fast-paced, good old-fashioned Cold War espionage set underwater in 2099, this book offers a great escape! Shortlisted for the 2018 Global Thriller Award and Semi-Finalist for the 2018 CLUE Award.
SKYJACK by K.J. Howe (Headline)
The electrifying sequel to The Freedom Broker, featuring Thea Paris, a kidnap and ransom specialist. For Thea, kidnap is always personal - her brother's life was nearly ruined when he was taken as a child. Lisa Gardner says The Freedom Broker is 'clever and gritty' and Peter James calls it 'spellbinding'. If you like David Baldacci's King and Maxwell series, you will love this.

When Thea Paris's flight is hijacked over the Libyan Desert, her first priority is the two former child soldiers she is escorting to a new life in London.

As an international kidnap specialist, Thea Paris negotiates for hostage release as part of her job. She knows one wrong move could lead to deadly consequences.

After she is forcibly separated from the boys and the other passengers, Thea and her tactical team quickly regroup. And in their desperate search for the hostages that follows, unearth a conspiracy involving the CIA, the Vatican and the Sicilian Mafia, and a plot far more sinister than Thea could ever have imagined.
Wow, K.J. Howe rocks! Talk about action-packed! Reading a Thea Paris book is like watching a Mission Impossible movie only we’ve got a sizzling hot female protagonist who thinks fast and acts even faster! I really enjoyed the characters in this book and I’m loving the Thea Paris series. It’s so great when you get to meet a heroine you really like and you look forward to the next book. I loved the way K.J. Howe writes – reminds me of Michael Connolly and his Bosch series – no padded fat, action all the way. And the plot keeps you on your toes with a lots of authentic details about the mechanics of flying.
(Barking Rain Press)
What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…
Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.
Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?
I really enjoyed this fun read! I’m not generally much of a cozy reader but this felt  more like a Kinsey Millhone novel to me (Sue Grafton’s series), than a cozy. I really enjoyed the characters and the sense of small town intrigue, coupled with the secrets from yesteryear. Most families have skeletons in their attics and it was a fun adventure to find out the truth inside the coffin of this one! I look forward to reading more of Judy Penz Sheluk’s work!
CLAUDINE by Barbara Palmer (Penguin Canada)
Maria Lantos is a post grad Yale student researching illicit 18th-century literature. She’s become exceptionally well-versed in the narratives of classic erotic fantasy.

She’s also Claudine, an in-demand escort specializing in sexual role play for an elite clientele. Anonymous. Satisfying. And discreet.

Until the tenuous separation between her worlds starts to crack. It begins with the murder of a stranger. Where it leads is to two men who will test Maria's limits of control and awaken her own sexual desires.

As her private nights bleed into day, Maria will discover the dangerous places that extend beyond the imagination, and secrets no longer consigned to the dark.
Not a book I would ordinarily head for, I came via Claudine when chatting with an author friend about trying to find a home for my rather risqué novel, Boomerang Beach. This bestselling author revealed a secret – she had written a sexy novel herself! So of course, I nabbed copy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This author’s writing is, without fail, so polished and smooth and Claudine is no exception. The attention to detail is sensual, provocative and painterly. Claudine herself was a work of art and I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes prepping for a night out with high-class clientele. There were moments when I felt as if Claudine was a Harlequin romance on Viagra or steroids, particularly when it came to the romantic side of things, but this didn’t lessen the enjoyment of the read – in fact, to the contrary!
Note to readers, the book contains explicit eroticism.
A SEASON AMONG PSYCHICS By Elizabeth Green (Inanna Publications)
Judith, at fifty, feels that her life is irremediably stalled, and she is depressed. Although she has a secure job teaching English Literature at a university, she is the single mother of a son on the autistic spectrum who has been lurching through the school system, year by year. Buried under the surface of her life, is her longing to write, and her deep feelings for Brian, a man who taught her in a creative writing program, and with whom she has telepathic connection. When Judtih meets Rosetta Kempffer at a psychic fair, she doesn't imagine that anything could change a life that seems so hopelessly stuck. Rosetta suggests Judith take a course from her in psychic healing, and although Judith is skeptical, she signs up, not expecting it to make a bit of difference. Yet, during the course, Judith learns not only techniques and awareness of healing, but also the truth of "things not seen with the bodily vision," and the profound connection between teaching and healing. (
A fascinating, funny and thorough journey into the mystical realms of life in a human body and beyond. Whether you’re a believer in alternative healing or not, this book will refresh your soul and lift your spirits. Try something different and spend A Season Among Psychics!

"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press