“Poem Journey” by Joyce Benvenuto (Thunder Bay Press, $17.95) is
subtitled “More Poems and Prose from along Old Grand River.”
This is a sequel to her first book of poetry, “A Grand River: Poems for
Michigan”, (Thunder Bay Press, $15.95) published in 2012.
But it’s more than just a sequel, Benvenuto has added many more vintage
photographs as well as sections of carefully-crafted prose.
It’s a small, well-designed 110-page hardback, with an intriguing cover
design made of colorful street signs of areas along the flowing Old Grand
River waterway or the winding Grand River Avenue.
Both books are organized similarly, following strands of history
geographically from Detroit to Grand Haven - and chronologically, from
early ancestors to present times.
Benvenuto skillfully combines fact and fiction in her myth-making, noting
in her brief introduction “Reader be warned: I am a storyteller.”
She describes many fond memories of her childhood, teen years and more
spent along the bustling roadway or quiet riverside.
Benvenuto also writes smoothly about assorted experiences in her Michigan
travels in relevant areas, dealing with friendships and encounters made
during her explorations and journeys.
One of the most fascinating sections is “Time”, involving a trip to
nearby Portland, to see if she and a friend might be able to locate a
long-and well-kept secret place – the burial site of Chief Okemos.
They face many challenges, as the location is not highly publicized as a
tourist attraction and is far off the beaten trail.
She discloses her not easily-duplicated method of discovery and shows
proof – a photograph that shows a memorial marker: “Grave of Okemos,
noted Chippewa Chief 1858 - Erected by the Daughters of the American
Revolution – 1921.”
Benvenuto offers enjoyable escapism, deftly using vivid imagery to make
the past come alive with superb visualization.
It is best to relax with both books, starting with the first, and savor
the words slowly – preferably under warm bedcovers or near the light of a
The author is a Haslett resident and MSU graduate, having taught in the
Haslett Public Schools for 18 years and taught creative writing students.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
“Poem Journey” by Joyce Benvenuto (Thunder Bay Press, $17.95) is
Monday, March 14, 2016
Sunday, March 13, 2016
In the world of small press publishing, it can be tough to make your own
niche. Green Lake author Russell Slater is trying to be successful with
Peninsulam Publishing, uniquely devoted to books by Michigan authors that
are set in Michigan.
Here’s a quick look at four recent books, with a wide variety of subjects.
“Traveling Circus” by author/illustrator Ingar Rudholm is a well-designed
166-page $14.95 trade paperback that’s aimed at young adults, although
it’s also likely to appeal to older readers.
The entertaining tale opens in Whitehall, introducing Flynn Parkes, a shy
14-year-old who’s being bullied in school. Trying to escape parental
problems, Flynn breaks away and rides his bike to an unusual traveling
He’s kidnapped by the circus’ shifty ringmaster, who has devious plans.
There are many intriguing characters, including a wise fortuneteller, a
pair of strange clowns, a muscular strong man and a beautiful mermaid.
Flynn becomes a human cannonball, is almost eaten by lions and nearly
drowns – he’s desperately trying to escape. All the action takes place in
just a few days; this is an unusual coming-of-age story with unexpected
This fast-paced memorable tale deals with decision-making, confidence and
belief in oneself – with a touch of magic thrown in for good measure.
“Return to Strange Home” by Pater Wilmerink ($6.95) is a 60-page military
science fiction novella set in 2065, ten years after a madman released a
cloud of deadly bioagents that decimated Western Michigan.
Space-traveling Captain Paul Wells returns to the planet and his home in
the quarantined area on the shores of Lake Michigan, only to find that
something alien has taken over his house.
Strange entities abound; he faces tough challenges as he struggles for
survival in a changed world.
“I’m a Michigander” by Slater ($12.99) features colorful illustrations by
Jordan Richardson. It’s aimed at younger readers, showcasing a big-eyed
young boy who promotes various aspects of the state, using rhymed
“Eddy Elk and Mandy Moose” by Slater, illustrated by Laura Gordon,
($6.99) is also designed for younger readers. It explores insights
offered the two large animals about the state's natural wonders, after
they’ve stepped out of the Michigan State Flag.
These two books are great fun, ideal for local libraries or families with
More information can be found on their website: www.peninsulampublishing.com
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
“Kentucky Woman” by Michigan author Mike Brogan (Lighthouse, $15.99) is
another exciting thriller that’s almost impossible to put down.
In this strange and snowy winter season, that’s not altogether bad – it’s
sometimes tough to find good mysteries that won’t lull you easily into
Brogan’s latest fast-paced tale grabs you from the first page and propels
you through 80 short chapters – you’re liable not to get anything else
Ellie Stuart is a young law student in Louisville KY, whose adoptive
parents were killed in a terrible boating accident. She’s trying to track
down her real parents and is having little luck.
When a student with a similar name is attacked nearby and Ellie is almost
run over on her bicycle by a man in a van, she begins to worry that
someone may be after her.
She meets Quinn Parker, an injured football player who’s also studying
law at the University of Louisville.
He gets assigned by his professor to do a research project. He’s to
interview the attorney in charge of the estate of Harlan Radford, a
self-made Kentucky billionaire, who left no major heirs.
Quinn is going to visit an attorney in charge of the estate in
Manchester, near the area where Ellie grew up. She joins Quinn on a quick
trip there; they stop at the local court house to try to get more
Meanwhile, there are other attempts on Ellie’s life; they think they’re
being followed as unusual incidents occur.
Ellie and Quinn make startling discoveries that lead them to believe that
she may indeed by the rightful heir of Radford’s fortune.
The body count quickly rises as the pair continue their investigation. A
nasty villain, who has a lot to lose, is frustrated when his attempts to
kill Ellie are thwarted.
Brogan deftly raises the tension level to the boiling point with many
plot twists that are both surprising yet believable. He utilizes the best
elements of a police procedural novel while dealing with clever killers
and break-through DNA scientific discoveries.
The author, a former advertising executive who lives in suburban Detroit,
has also written a number of other excellent suspense novels, including
“Business to Die For”, “Dead Air” and “G-8”.
This gripping novel could be made into a great movie!