By Ann Bolinger-McQuade (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, $16.95)
The subtitle of Bolinger-McQuade’s book is “Decoding the Divine Messages That Are All Around Us.” She is a firm believer in the messages revealed in dreams, clouds and coincidences. Her aim is to help her readers get in touch with their inner psychic selves.
By J.A. Jance (William Morrow, $ 26.99, $12.80 Kindle)
In a novel plot twist, Jance takes her Seattle-based lawman, J.P. Beaumont, into the past. (Beaumont now works in the attorney general’s Special Homicide Investigating Team, and you can work out the acronym for that on your own.) Hallucinating from the anesthesia administered in his recent knee transplant operation, he is haunted by the players in a murder case he failed to solve when he first came on the Seattle Police Department force. He had promised the mother of the murder victim that justice would be done. Also interwoven is Beaumont’s service in Vietnam and his strong feelings for a comrade who saved his life.
“After the Fire” J.A. Jance (WilliamMorrow, $15.95) is a collection of short autobiographical poems introduced by brief explanations of what was going on in Jance’s marriage to her first husband to prompt the verses. Her fans especially will find them absorbing and touching.
“Credit Card: A Personal Debt Crisis”
By Jon Langione (The Jonathan Co. LLC, $6.99; $1.99 Kindle)
Langione begins his cautionary tale of credit card debt with the story of a man who buys a cup of coffee and a piece of pie ($4.37 with tax) and puts the charges on his credit card. Because he is maxed out on his card (as well as others), the actual charge escalates to $39.37. And this is just the beginning. Langione says he hopes his book reaches young consumers so that they won’t buy into the “plastic prison” of credit card debt. Worth a read by anyone with or without a credit card.
“The Fly Machine”
By Beth Oliver (Self-published, $14.99)
It is 1970, Kelly Macklin, fed up with her flying job, joins the Peace Corps. Assigned to Botswana as a rural industrial officer, she quickly comes to respect the San people (sometimes known as the Bushmen) of Botswana and to champion their rights to the newly discovered diamond pipe on their traditional “wildlife corridor.” The problems of indigenous people with rough, primitive — but very old — cultures are investigated sympathetically in this dense but informative novel.
By Mary Ellen Barnes (Fireship Press, $19.95)
Barnes is well-known in Tucson historical circles for her engaging account of growing up as a member of the Zimmerman family and its connection to the development of Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon. She also wrote “Forged by Fire,” the story of the devastating 2003 Aspen Fire in the Catalinas. That book was selected by Southwest Books of the Year in 2005 as one of its Top 10. Barnes has now found another relative, a lively and independent 17th-century Englishwoman whose story she has translated into a novel. Frances Latham, born in 1609, survived the black plague that ravaged Europe in the 1600s. Moving to Rhode Island with her second husband, she became acquainted with Anne Hutchison and Roger Williams. She died in 1677, and in “Peregrine” Barnes reconstructs her interesting story complete with details of food, dress, daily activities and events of the times.
“Unfinished Business: A Biologist in the Latter Half of the 20th Century”
By Joseph T. Bagnara (Wheatmark, $15.95)
Arriving on the campus of the University of Arizona in 1956 and retiring in 1992, biologist Bagnara has devoted his productive professional life both to teaching and the study of pigment cells. In the 1980s, he brought the International Pigment Cell Conference to Tucson. Writing his autobiography, Bagnara combines his academic and private lives. He is glowing in his praise of most of his colleagues and discreet in his criticism of the few with whom he came in conflict. It has been a life well-lived, and he recounts it with quiet satisfaction. Along the way, Bagnara notes how universities have changed in the last 50 years. An index would be a welcome addition.
“Vincent in Tucson”
By Steven Bye (Self-published, $20)
Bye, a retired high school art teacher, writes, “I was always faced with the challenge of finding new ways to inspire my students. ... One way that seemed to work most often was adding some type of adventure to the subject at hand.” By any standard, one would have to say this time Bye has come up with a doozy. Van Gogh travels to Arizona for his health, accompanied by a “Franco-African” who is related to Degas. There are explosions and train robberies, but unfortunately, Tucson’s dry climate is no match for Van Gogh’s health problems.
“The Other Side of the Road”
By Alf Taylor (Self-published, $24.95)
“A Treasure Hunters’ Guide to Morocco”
By Alf Taylor (Self-published in English and French, $22.95)
From pool hustler to rug dealer, Taylor has had quite a life. In “The Other Side of the Road,” Taylor recounts his 20 or so years as a professional pool player (“hustler”) in the 1960s and 1970s. He met all the well-known players of the time, including Rudolph Walter “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone, Willie Mosconi, Eddie Taylor and U.J. Puckett. “A Treasure Hunters’ Guide” was compiled in the 1990s. It is dedicated to the late king of Morocco, Hassan II. In it, Taylor shares his secrets and experiences trading in Morocco.