Beneath the peaceful exterior of the leafy town of Tall Tree, the brutal baby gangster underworld is simmering to a hard boil. Squeezy the Cheeks, undisputed leader of the long ruling North Wood crew, is facing the toughest challenge of his career: his archnemesis Harry the Rash, who rules the Poopypants Gang with an iron rattle, is making a play for Squeezy’s territory. Mama’s Boy, the freshest recruit into Squeezy’s mob of infant thugs, is unwittingly thrust into the middle of the massive heist Squeezy must pull off to keep himself and his crew in their seat of power. Everything is at stake for the North Wood Gang. But can Mama’s Boy keep it together to make the score, or will the mysterious redhead he encounters at Story Time distract him at his most important hour? Join Mama’s Boy as he journeys into the dark underbelly of the baby hoodlum wars and is forced to change his worldview forever.
Sunspots follows the healing journey of a young woman thrown into the horror of losing a spouse. It is a story of loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt our lives and our houses. A love story, a romance, and a mystery of sorts, Sunspots, is above all an exploration into the psyche and emotional arc of the MC and it follows no formula.
“One can never be, and should never be, smug about life,” says Aurora Goldberg. An aspiring New York actress who has never realized her dreams, Aurora keeps herself afloat by doing odd temp jobs where her rich fantasy life helps her get through the day. Aurora sees the world through the lens of characters in literature and film and these fictionalizations are woven into her interpretation of reality. On one of her temp assignments she meets Jake Stein, a man who could “charm the skin off a snake” and she decides to follow her destiny as his wife in Austin, Texas. But Jake’s sudden death after two short years disintegrates her world and Aurora must reevaluate her life and let go of a love that has become an obsession.
Sunspots takes the reader on a journey of high emotion as Aurora uncovers Jake’s secret life and her own internal conflicts as she matures to self-awareness. Narrated by Aurora, the novel’s tone vacillates from irreverent humor to solemnity as she relates her previous life with Jake and her present challenges. The title refers to the solar maximum which became the backdrop for Aurora’s conception when her hippy parents went to Canada to observe the Aurora Borealis. In name and in spirit, Aurora is connected to the observable and unobservable energy around us.
With the help of friends, family, and the ghost of Viola Parker (her home’s original owner), Aurora accepts her fate and the secrets revealed about Jake’s true character. She realizes that in this life she will finally break the cycle of pain caused by her love for this man, Jake Stein, through the centuries.
Embedded in the novel is the question of the afterlife and paranormal events abound. The incidents are left vague enough so the reader is not certain if they are external events witnessed by Aurora or exist only in her own mind. My approach to the extraordinary has always been with keen interest and skepticism. Just as we cannot see unaided that at the quantum level solid objects consist of vast spaces and swirling particles, so too, we define our human existence with only our limited five senses, three dimensional orientation, and our perceived space/time continuum. So then, what can one say with any certainty is reality?
Attractive and successful, Monika Lenz has had it.
With the city. With her job. And with men.
A year alone in a Sierra Nevada mountain cabin should bring the fifty-year-old back on track. There will be beauty, and there will be peace and quiet. But there are also shadows that invade her sanctuary. Foreboding and relentless, they grasp at her and lure her soul deeper into its recesses.
Will the elusive Jack MacGreedy pull her back from the abyss she has created in her mind, and in her heart?
A string of misfortunes has left photographer Carrie Daniels penniless and desperate. When her former mentor, Louise Dickenson, steps forward to offer her a job as an art model for a private commission, Carrie has no choice but to accept. Things seem to be looking up when she meets Scott Andrews, however her friends soon realize that Scott isn’t who he appears to be, and Carrie’s luck goes from bad to worse when Louise’s photos of her fall into the wrong hands. Can Alex Montoya, a long-lost friend from her past, save her from ruin?
Liz and John have been best friends for years. They’ve never thought about taking things past their platonic relationship. John was previous left at the altar, and Liz has relationship issues of her own stemming all the way back from childhood.
But at some point things begin to change for John. Once he embraces the feelings he is developing for Liz, he makes it his mission to make her see whether she realizes it or not she feels the same way.
A young man, Igor, adopts as his mother a middle aged woman, Sylvia, after meeting her in a café, each having come from the nearby cemetery. He had been visiting his mother’s grave; she, her son’s. In taking it upon himself to investigate the death of Sylvia’s son, Igor soon finds himself confronting racists. Sylvia is black; Igor is white. The deeper he delves, the more intricately embroiled he becomes and the more he becomes the focus of a police investigation himself.
Alongside the surface interplay of the characters, Igor remains preoccupied with an inquiry into the nature of existence. Within the field of human activity, notions of ‘good and bad’ and ‘pleasure and pain’ are perhaps bound to prevail, but the essence of existence must precede such differentiation. The presence of suffering in the world should not be taken as proof that the world cannot be perfect. A photograph consisting only of black or only of white would probably seem pretty boring. A world consisting only of good or only of bad would perhaps be comparable to such a photograph. Each extreme acquires its significance by being in juxtaposition with its opposite. Happiness does not result from the elimination of suffering; rather, happiness may ensue when the realm of pleasure and pain has been transcended.
One aspect of the title, Black & White, relates to issues of race. Another aspect relates to Igor’s ability in violent situations to interpret matters in black and white terms. However, it is as a general phrase covering all dualities that the title derives its primary import. The use of the ampersand character in the title imitates its usage by photographers when referring to ‘black & white’ images, and is intended to denote a synthesis of the individual terms into a unitary whole.
The book includes some brief passages depicting scenes of polyamorous sex (pleasure) and homicidal violence (pain).