Adriana Girdler, CEO of CornerStone Dynamics, wants people to doodle.

According to a press release, doodling is a focused way to ignite your creative side, helping you to thinking out of the box; helps companies expand their organizational vision statement by taking words and transforming it into doodles full of symbols and deeper means; help stakeholders understand the mood of its employees; help people break down complex problems into manageable chunks.

To celebrate Girdler has created the Visual Visioning Doodle Book she uses as a tool for training when working with businesses from her own to Fortune 500 companies.
I was given the opportunity to check out Girdler’s book, and ask her questions.

1. Have you always been a doodler?
I’ve been doodling since I was young. In fact, everyone was a doodler at one point. Do you remember doodling on your schoolbooks? We, as adults, have forgotten how to doodle, yet we seem to do it unconsciously. Watch yourself the next time when you’re on a phone for a long time and sitting, you will doodle if there is paper. In fact, doodling while on a call or listening to a speaker allows for greater memory retention. (According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodlers find it easier to recall information, up to 30 per cent more, than non-doodlers because the latter were actually more likely to daydream).

I read, from the links from your blog, that what you draw and how you draw it, says a lot about you. How do you doodle?
I put pen to paper and start to draw where my hand takes me. I go with the flow.

What do you doodle?
I usually start with swirls and/or shapes depending on the conversation. I will then draw flowers and outside stick scenes and stick people.

Have your doodles changed over the years? Yes, I do less heart with my name in them and the person I have a crush on! LOL But over time my doodles have become more simplistic in style yet they have more meaning and are often related to the subject I am listening to.

2. Why is doodling so important, both personally and professionally?
I believe that doodling is critical for the fostering of our creative side. I feel that the direct correlation of a pen/pencil to paper and the fluid motion of creating the doodle opens up our minds to thinking broadly and more creatively.

3. Why should employers encourage their staff to doodle?
Employers always ask for new and innovative ideas from their employees. Doodling will open the creative flood gates, which allows more innovative thinking to occur. Doodle long enough and you will see how ideas start to pop in your head as you’re flowing with the doodle. Employers, if creativity and innovation are important to you or you are looking for ways to expand your business, put up white boards everywhere and encourage your team to doodle on the fly and piggy-back on other doodles. Sometimes people think that when one is doodling in a meeting they are distracted, but the studies show that when you doodle and are listening, you retain more information than just listening alone. So doodle away!

4. How did The Visual Vision Doodle Book come about?
I create Visual Vision Statements for organizations and in every session I did, I always had people coming up to me asking if I could help them create a visual vision statement for them personally. I understood the request because I, too, had created a visual vision statement for myself. So during a trip, I was meditating and the idea came to me to create a visual vision statement doodle book for individuals so they can have the benefit of living their life’s passion and allowing their vision to guide them daily.

5. What was important for you to include in this book?
First, was to make the exercises in the book build off of each other. You need to do the first exercise in order to do the subsequent. This building of ideas is critical to get to your core wants and desires. Second, was the reflection sections. The majority of people don’t give enough time to reflect on their answers. This is why they are constantly changing their ideas. You need to reflect to ensure your desires are true so you can focus on them for a period of time so you can make your dreams a reality. Third, drawing out your vision statement so you can use images that will act as descriptors that are more detailed than just plain words. Let’s face it, we gloss over words, but pay attention to images. Pictures are worth a 1,000 words and have more meaning to us then just plain words.

Are there other things you wanted to include, but didn’t?
Not really. I feel this book captures how to create your visual vision statement. The next step would be to incorporate a program that teaches people the logistics and strategies on how to make dreams a reality, i.e. how to break down the vision into specific tasks that you can work to achieve your goal(s). I’d love to have a graphic designer dedicated to translating the personal visual visions into graphic images, so it may become a beautiful piece of art, similar to my version.

6. Whose doodles are in the book? Why? What is your favourite doodle?
No ones’ doodles are in the book. It was a collaboration between my graphic designer and myself as to what we wanted to have in the book to help inspire others. The back cover is my actual visual vision statement. You can see the full colour version of mine, along with others to get an idea of what a visual vision statement can look like.

7. What is your favourite part in the book?
I love the quotes and the reflection questions. They are inspirational and make you think.

What do you think is the most important part?
Coming up with your core values. You need these to create your personal visual vision statement. The values, along with the vision statement, act as a line in the sand for what you do and how you do it. Values are meant to be lived 24/7 and not just when its convenient. So if you can find out what your deep beliefs are, you are more apt to be successful in living your vision.

8. By the end of the book, what do you hope people get out of it?
I hope they have a true representation of their own visual vision statement, that reflects their goals and dreams, that they will view and live everyday!

9. In one of your books you mention people put up roadblocks to their dreams. What forms do roadblocks take and how do you take them down?
In my book, Opening The Doors To Empowerment, from the SparkShift Series, I mention that the Top 5 road blocks are 1- Lack of Vision, 2- Fear, 3- Impatience, 4- Perfectionism and 5- Workload. There is so much to say on this I am not sure I can answer it all. But briefly, create a personal vision statement, don’t let fear dictate your actions, be disciplined and patient, achieving your greatness takes time. Perfectionism is another way of not doing anything and get a handle on your workload so you can start doing things that have meaning and will lead you to achieving your dreams.

10. Congratulations on your success. What has helped you on your journey?
Thank you so much! Living my vision statement every day has really made an impact. I make decision based on it, always! Also, I believe that when one door closes, another one of great value and opportunity always opens….and guess what, it does!

11. What advice do you give to people looking to live an authentic life?
First, love yourself unconditionally. You are awesome just because you are you. Believe in yourself. This makes all the difference between those who are ‘successful’ in life and those who have constant challenges. Take the time to reflect, learn and grown. Have a visual vision statement so you can start living and guiding your life to always be in a place that is heart-centric and true to what you believe.

12. Anything else you would like to say?
People create visual vision statements because they are seeking their authentic selves and what to be fulfilled and happy in their lives. When you take the time to truly reflect on what you want in your life, you start to ask yourself some very meaningful and important questions: What is my purpose in life? Who do I want to surround myself with? What brings me joy? Because what brings us closer to our authentic self is not ‘stuff’ but feeling connected to our soul and heart’s desires. This doodle book is the first step to understanding who you are and what you want to achieve in your life time. Once completed it will be your map to guide you in all your critical and important decisions.
In order to help people tap into their authentic self, I’ll be hosting a four-week workshop to help guide people through the development of their visual vision statements, starting Feb  28. To get more information or to register, visit

The Visual Vison Doodle Book
Editor’s Note: I am about half way through the book. I am lucky as I know my purpose in life and what I want from it. I also realize I am not a doodler – I wrote everything down, just like a journal.

Characters finding themselves
Blankets, a Graphic Novel

Craig Thompson
Drawn & Quarterly,
Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith. A profound and utterly beautiful work from Craig Thompson. At 592 pages, Blankets may well be the single largest graphic novel ever published without being serialized first.
Editor’s Note:  I was quite surprised when I received Thompson’s book – it was much bigger than I was expecting, yet it kept me reading; I finished it in a couple of hours. I haven’t seen Craig Thompson’s work before, but I did enjoy it art, and his story, although I confess I skipped over the overly religious parts.

Blue Suicide
Jennifer Venner
Iguana Books,
For Wyn Rhys, director of the Special Oversight Agency, truth is not an idea, but a destination. When an unarmed artist dies in a stand-off with police in a crowded shopping mall, Rhys travels the dark streets of Toronto in search of the truth while his understanding of his own identity begins to fray. Charged with investigating those that are meant to administer justice and pursued by his political masters and the case that made his career, Rhys cannot afford to arrive at the wrong destination.
Editor’s Note: I don’t like Wyn Rhys or the choices he makes. I don’t like his job, although I understand the importance of it, nor how he does it. Blue Suicide (where people have confrontations with police in hopes they will kill them) is an interesting concept and one I can see happening, as sad as that is. Blue Suicide the book kept me reading. What I liked most about the book was the fact it was set in Toronto and places you don’t often see in books – neighbourhoods and landmarks – are front and centre.

Furiously Happy, A Funny Book about Horrible Things
Jenny Lawson,
Flatiron Books,
In Furiously Happy, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
Editor’s Note: The first chapter I laughed out loud while waiting to pick my son up from school. I literally was laughing so much that a grandpa approached me the following day to comment. I loved the comments between Lawson and her mother. Her mother sounds like all mothers, and it made me laugh. The subsequent chapters weren’t as laugh-out-loud funny, but I still laughed now and then. I skipped a couple of the more ranting chapters and skimmed through paragraphs within chapters. When I realized I felt like I was at a car accident scene – I wasn’t that interested, but felt that I couldn’t turn away – I realized I couldn’t/shouldn’t read it any more. What Lawson has to deal with on a daily basis is frightening, heartbreaking and scary. And while her idea to be ‘furious happy’ when she isn’t in the pit of depression is amazing and shows how resilient she is, I felt she deserved more from me. Saying that, if you can read between the swearing and the ‘crazy’ things she does, Lawson offers a great insight into what it is like to live with such a debilitating mental illness. Kudos to her for being able to live as best as she is able.

Happiness The Mindful Way A Practical Guide
DK Books,
Happiness: The Mindful Way is a practical step-by-step guide to help focus the mind, improve performance, and be happy. This easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide is filled with infographics and questionnaires, making the road to happiness an enjoyable, personal journey. Discover how breathing techniques, body scanning and simple meditation can help you be in the present moment, lessen anxiety, and distance yourself from damaging emotions. The range of methods presented makes it easy to tailor a program to fit your needs. From coping with anxiety to breaking bad habits to making a speech in front of a crowd, Happiness: The Mindful Way offers foolproof methods and expert advice for gaining resilience, confidence, and communication skills, and becoming more successful in the pursuit of your goals.
Editor’s Note: I have a number of books that I flip through and read a chapter or two  when the mood strikes. This is one of those books. You couldn’t, or  at least I can’t, read the book the whole way through, but you could read a chapter, answer the questions and think about it and come back when you are ready to learn more about mindfulness. Good book, great info.

No Longer A Child of Promise
Amanda Farmer
Archway Publishing
This sequel to If You Leave This Farm chronicles the life adventures of this young Mennonite lady who, after choosing to walk away from her father’s farm at age 29, is now free to make her own choices as an adult. Amanda shares the joy of discovering the world away from the farm, of falling in love, and about her decision to eventually leave the Mennonite church. But that freedom and joy is tainted by the continuing intertwined and overpowering conflicts that result from unspoken and unresolved expectations in her family of origin.
Editor’s Note: I realize I shouldn’t get sequels. I need to read the first book before trying to read the second one. I wasn’t interested in Farmer’s story after she left the church, but would be interested in reading the first book.

Traversing Leonard
Craig Savel
Anvil Press,
Paul is a young physics professor at a major university. Paul is drawn to Leonard Zavitsky, a once-promising, but now washed up and very annoying ex-professor who is kept on as a custodian mostly out of pity. The once great Zavitsky has some wild theories about quantum time travel. Everyone laughs (including Paul) until Paul realizes that Zavitsky might be right. Leonard convinces Paul and they decide to build a quantum time machine to journey back to Leonard’s childhood and save Leonard from himself.
Editor’s Note: The first 38 pages were rough – so much math and science. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read it. But I really wanted to so I continued and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a sex scene in the middle, which I thought was too much and it could have been cut, but otherwise, what a great read.

The Revenant, A Novel of Revenge
Machael Punke
The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Trapping beaver, they contend daily with the threat of Indian tribes turned warlike over the white men’s encroachment on their land, and other prairie foes – like the unforgiving landscape and its creatures. Hugh Glass is among the Company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. The company’s captain dispatches two of his men to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies, and to give him the respect of a proper burial. When the two men abandon him instead, taking his only means of protecting himself – including his precious gun and hatchet – with them, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge.
Editor’s Note: While I understand the desire for revenge is what kept Hugh Glass alive, I don’t have the energy myself. It seemed like a lot of work, and a lot of near-death experiences, in order to exact revenge on, as far as I am concerned, at least one somewhat innocent young man; the other man deserved Glass’ fury. I thought the book was fantastic. It was easy to read, action packed and I would imagine an impressive amount of research (Glass was a real person). Saying that, I have no desire to see the movie; I would imagine it would be too gory for me. (As a note, it sounds like the movie and the book is different, and not necessary in a good way.)

Valentine’s Day
Here Comes Valentine Cat

Deborah Underwood
Penguin Random House
Cat does NOT like Valentine’s Day. It’s much too mushy, and no way is he making anyone a valentine, especially not his new neighbor, Dog. Dog refuses to respect the fence: He keeps tossing over old bones and hitting Cat in the head! But just as Cat’s about to send Dog an angry “valentine” telling him exactly what he can do with his bones, Dog throws a ball over the fence. What is Dog playing at? Cat is in for a hilarious – and heartwarming- surprise in this story about being perhaps too quick to judge.
Editor’s Note: Cat is always laugh-out-loud funny. My seven year old and I love Cat and his antics. Cat’s Valentine cards to dog are the best. I laughed out loud.

Other books about characters/people finding themselves
A Matter of Family

Gloria Marie Kingsnorth
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Xlibris
There are turning points in everyone’s life that goes in either a positive or negative direction.
Whether by wealth or poverty, there are circumstances that can make or break a family. In Kingsnorth’s case, it was an ongoing series of traumatic events that she found the strength to overcome.
In her book,she speaks of hidden truths, conspiracies, and betrayal by her cousin; an illegitimate child who later emerged as a wealthy tycoon who used his influence and power to rewrite his past. “Our lives have been inextricably linked by a web of deception. My novel is an attempt to liberate truth from a dark and painful past,” Kingsnorth said in a release. “A Matter of Family is a story that attempts to bring long hidden secrets out of the shadows and into the light. Readers will become quickly immersed as they uncover the many issues stemming from secrecy, deception, and betrayal. This mind-rattling and complex story is of one woman’s survival and resilience in overcoming past traumas.

Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self, Real Words of Wisdom from People Ages 7 to 88
Chronicle Books,
What advice would your 80-year-old self give you? That is the question artist Susan O’Malley, who was herself to die far too young, asked more than a 100 ordinary people of every age, from every walk of life. She then transformed their responses into vibrant text-based images. From a prompt to do things that matter to your heart, to a reminder that it’s OK to have sugar in your tea, these are calls to action and words to live by-heartfelt, sometimes humorous, and always fiercely compassionate. This stirring celebration of our collective humanity unveils the wisdom we hold inside ourselves right now.

Breaking Big
Penny Draper
Orca Books,
Robin’s got everything it takes to be a principal dancer: the body, the feet, the strength and the passion. But his devil-may-care attitude plays havoc with discipline at the Premier Dance School. One more prank may be one too many. That’s why everyone is shocked when he’s the only student dancer picked to understudy with the company, even though the choice makes sense – Robin is cast as Puck, the annoying trickster fairy in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Shock turns to horror when the principal dancer is injured and Robin has to perform instead. The other dancers don’t think he can pull it off, and even Robin wonders if it’s too much too soon. Will his big break kill his career before it even starts?

Down the U-Bend of Your Mind: A Look at Self-Examination
Kevin Barnard
Rev. Kevin Barnard, a priest of the Church of England, channels his extensive pastoral experiences and philosophical education into a guide for self-examination of oneself in the light given by God. In his book, which began as a Parish Lent study course, Barnard shares some of his personal experiences with failure and sin, in the hope that others will find the way to freedom from guilt.
“We can take on all the negative things about ourselves, real or imaginary, and come to hate ourselves,” Barnard said in a release. “To be self-satisfied is dangerous, but to be eaten up with self-loathing or views of oneself that are wholly negative is just as damaging.” Through his book, Barnard hopes to reassure readers about the church and to make the practice of self-examination more accessible to them when seeking God’s forgiveness for their sins.

Robert B Downes
In his new book, Hope, author and M.D. Robert B Downes seeks to offer support to those suffering from PTSD as he writes candidly on his own experience with the disorder.
Downes was involved in an automobile accident while studying medicine in Ireland. Although Downes walked away from the accident physically unharmed, psychological effects were already taking root. Hope, details the deep anxiety, anger, flashbacks and depression Downes faced as a result of the accident and how he was able to regain his life.
“My sole intent with writing is to provide hope to people who have felt unable to cope with the demands of everyday life due to traumatic events in their past,” Downes said. “I want my life to tell a story of hope, and how as a doctor and a person I became a wounded healer.”

Jonathan, do you know me?
Vince Leitao
Death and grief are difficult to think and talk about, more so when the death is that of one’s own child.
However, in Jonathan, do you know me?, Vince Leitao looks at death not as the end of life, but as passing through another milestone of the soul’s eternal journey. He makes a synthesis of the
teachings on death from religious, spiritual and cultural perspectives through his personal reflections and study.
In this book Leitao writes about death in terms of eternal life, transcendence, mortality, relationships, awareness and consciousness. In writing about his experience and his deeper insight into death, pain, suffering and the loss of his beloved son, the author offers consolation, hope and inspiration to those grieving the death of one who they have loved deeply.
SickKids Foundation will receive a portion of proceeds from this book.

Powerful Habits to Grow Younger Every Day – Look and Feel 10 Years Younger – Naturally!
Wendy Vineyard  — to download a free book
Wendy Vineyard explains that doctors, medical professionals and health experts may tell you some of what they know about how to avoid premature aging and stay youthful and vital, but they don’t explain how you can stay motivated to use their advice. Willpower, information and good intentions alone aren’t enough to get the results you’re after. By developing a few powerful habits, you can jump on the fast-track to growing younger every day. When you replace fickle willpower and stressful decision-making with daily habits and routines based on proven strategies, natural remedies and products that slow or reverse aging, you set yourself up to make youthful aging automatic and stress-free! Powerful Habits to Grow Younger Every Day is aimed mostly at women 45 to 65 who want effective natural solutions to look and feel 10, or more, years younger for life. This book reveals little-known practical secrets that have the biggest effect to prevent premature aging, to ‘de-age’ – turn back the clock, and prolong a youthful body and mind – naturally without drugs, surgery or added hormones.

Spirit Level
Sarah N. Harvey
Orca Books,
Harriet (known as Harry) is a donor-conceived child who has never wanted to reach out to her half-siblings or donor – until now. Feeling adrift after a breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Harry tracks down her half-siblings, two of whom are in Seattle, where Harriet lives. The first girl she meets is fifteen-year-old Lucy, an effervescent half-Japanese dancer. Then she meets Meredith, a troubled girl who is always accompanied by her best friend, Alex. Harry and Alex are attracted to each other, much to Meredith’s chagrin, and when it becomes clear that Meredith is an accomplished liar, Harry makes it her business to figure out what Meredith is up to. In the course of her investigation, she discovers a lot about Meredith, but the biggest shock is not about Meredith – it’s about Alex, who was born female. So now Harry must deal with not only her growing attraction to Alex, but also Meredith’s hostility. As decisions are made around whether to contact their donor, the three donor sisters negotiate their relationship and Harry tries to figure out what she really wants.

The Three Year Affair
Anny Omous
While struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Canadian author Anny Omous found her outlet by delving into motorcycle culture.
This romantic drama takes readers into a world where true love and survival don’t overlap. When protagonist Anny, a generational legacy of a notorious motorcycle club, falls in love with a policeman leading the organized crime unit, she must decide where her loyalty lies.
Throughout the book, Omous highlights the honest and loyal community of motorcycle clubs as well as many social issues relevant to society today, including bullying, spousal abuse and PTSD.

New releases
Bad Kitty Goes to The Vet
Nick Gruel
Roaring Brook,
When Kitty is happy and healthy, everything is perfect. She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep slobbering puppies in their place. But when she’s sick, all she can do is lie in her bed. Looks like it’s time for this sick kitty to go…to the vet. When Kitty’s family finally manages to get their clawing, angry pet into the doctor’s office, it’s a wild adventure for Kitty, who has to get the most dreaded thing of all…a shot. Once the shot is administered, Kitty is cast into an ingenious dream within a dream sequence in which she has to make right by Puppy or risk being shut out of PussyCat heaven forever.
Editor’s Note: My seven-year-old son laughed out loud in parts of this book, while other parts I had to explain. Poor puppy.

Other new releases
All the Birds in the Sky

Charlie Jane Anders
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two- second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together – to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

Frozen Tides
Morgan Rhodes
Penguin Random House.
Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

The Sherlock Holmes Book
The Sherlock Holmes Book, the latest in DK’s award-winning Big Ideas Simply Explained series, tackles the most “elementary” of subjects – the world of Sherlock Holmes, as told by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes Book is packed with witty illustrations, clear graphics and memorable quotes that make it the perfect Sherlock Holmes guide, covering every case of the world’s greatest detective, from A Study in Scarlet to The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place, placing the stories in a wider context. Stories include at-a-glance flowcharts that show how Holmes reaches his conclusions through deductive reasoning, and character guides provide handy reference for readers and an invaluable resource for fans of the Sherlock Holmes films and TV series.
The Sherlock Holmes Book holds a magnifying glass to the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective.
Editor’s Note: For Sherlock Holmes fans this is likely a must-read. While I didn’t read the breakdown of the stories, I did read the sidebars, which, in DK fashion, were full of interesting information, whether you a Holmes fan or not. Wow. Is all I can say about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Other mysteries
House of Thieves

Charles Belfoure
Available: 09/15/15
In 1886 New York, a respectable architect shouldn’t have any connection to the notorious gang of thieves and killers that rules the underbelly of the city. But when John Cross’s son racks up an unfathomable gambling debt to Kent’s Gents, Cross must pay it back himself. All he has to do is use his inside knowledge of high society mansions and museums to craft a robbery even the smartest detectives won’t solve. The take better include some cash too – the bigger the payout, the faster this will be over.
With a newfound talent for sniffing out vulnerable and lucrative targets, Cross becomes invaluable to the gang. But Cross’s entire life has become a balancing act, and it will only take one mistake for it all to come crashing down -and for his family to go down too.

I Am Your Judge A Novel
Nele Neuhaus
Police Detective Pia Kirchhoff is about to leave on her long- delayed honeymoon when she receives a phone call. An elderly woman has been shot and killed while walking her dog. A short while later another murder is committed and the modus operandi is eerily similar – a woman is killed by a bullet that smashes through her kitchen window … and in both cases the same weapon fired the shot. Two more murders follow in short order. None of the victims had enemies and no one knows why they were singled out. As fear of the Taunus Sniper grows among the local residents, the pressure rises on Detective Kirchhoff. She and her partner, Oliver von Bodenstein, search for a suspect who appears to murder at will, but as the investigation progresses, the police officers uncover a human tragedy.

Love and Fear
Reed Farrel Coleman
Orca Books,
When the daughter of the most powerful Mafia don in New York goes missing, the don’s right-hand man comes to Gulliver Dowd for help. Problem is, the right-hand man and Dowd despise each other. Plus, the don knows who murdered Dowd’s sister, Keisha, but refuses to share that knowledge with Gulliver. Still, Dowd makes a devil’s deal and hunts for the girl. Old secrets and lies boil to the surface, threatening to destroy the lives of everyone involved. But who has the girl? An eccentric art professor, or one of the don’s many enemies? Will Gulliver find her, or will their fates dissolve in a corrosive stew of love and fear?

The Goddaughter Caper
Melodie Campbell
Orca Books,
In The Goddaughter Caper, Gina Gallo finds herself embroiled in her family’s shady dealings when a body turns up at her uncle’s restaurant. But it’s just the beginning of her problems. Strange things keep happening in Steeltown. A body shows up in the trunk of Gina’s car. Another is mistakenly shipped to her cousin Nico’s new store. And then Gina and Nico stumble across a stash of empty coffins! Worse, everything mysteriously points to her own retired relatives from the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home. Gina is determined to get to the bottom of it. But she’ll have to act fast, because the police are right behind her. This is the fourth in a series featuring Gina Gallo, who wants nothing more than to run her little jewelry store but, try as she might to escape it, somehow Gina gets drawn into the family business, with hilarious consequences.

The Killing Lessons
Saul Black
St. Martin’s Press,
When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper’s isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it’s the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it’s just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done. For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims – women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them–has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she’s losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens. But the murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn’t quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena’s 10-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more dangerous than what she’s running from. In this extraordinary, pulse-pounding debut, Saul Black takes us deep into the mind of a psychopath, and into the troubled heart of the woman determined to stop him.

This book was originally published at