Friday, April 16, 2021


By Meryl Ain

Publisher: SparkPress
Pub Date: August 4th, 2020
Pages: 265 pages
Categories: Historical / Jewish Literature / Sibling Fiction / Holocaust

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. 

Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated.

 Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.


“At a time when the darkness of the Holocaust is being whitewashed, Meryl Ain’s remarkable debut novel illuminates the postwar Jewish American landscape like a truth-seeking torch. An emotionally rich and lovingly told saga of survivors, with great sensitivity to what was lost, buried, and resurrected.” Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible.

“The author’s tale is sensitively composed, a thoughtful exploration into the perennially thorny issues of religious identity, assimilation, and the legacy of suffering.” Kirkus Reviews

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Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal.  She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator.

The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York.

Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She is a lifetime member of Hadassah and an active supporter of UJA-Federation of New York.  She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren. This is her first novel.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar April 11-18, 2021

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of April 11-18, 2021, compiled by TexasBookLover exclusively for Lone Star Literary Life.  

Special events this week include San Antonio's annual poetry Mega Corazón, the annual meeting of the Texas Institute of Letters, and the 53rd Comparative Literature Symposium. Most events are still online via Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Zoom, and other venues. 

For a complete calendar of bookish events in Texas this week, including special events, daily listings, and exhibits, visit the GO! Calendar at Lone Star Lit  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Lone Star Literary Life - April 11, 2011

Lone Star Literary Life is brand new, hot off the pixels, and nutritious. Follow the link for the latest Texas bookish news, reviews, interviews, and goings-on, then subscribe to the newsletter-it's free!

Author Interview & Giveaway: DIRE'S CLUB

by Kimberly Packard

Publisher: Abalos Publishing
Publication Date: March 23, 2021
Pages: 326 Pages
Categories: Action & Adventure / Contemporary / Women's Fiction

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Dying isn't just hard on the ones left behind, the regret of unfinished lives weighs heavily on the terminally ill. That's where Dire's Club steps in, a specialty travel agency that takes a small group of dying people on one final adventure-so they can be free of guilt, be more than a diagnosis, and find a way to confront life...and death.

Life Coach Charlotte Claybrooke built a successful second career guiding people out of grief, but the impending tenth anniversary of her own heart-wrenching tragedy sets her on a journey to find life among the dying.

Staring death in the face was Jimmy Dire's business. He met it with a warm hug, a kind word, and a smile. Dire's Club gave the terminally ill one final, bucket-list adventure before passing on, but dying was expensive. The bills, like Jimmy's lies, were piling up. It's only a matter of time before he's forced to face a different type of death.

A rock god, a telenovela star, a grandmother living her life-long dream, and a young tech genius round out this group of strangers facing death together. But when tragedy strikes, their bond is shattered. Lies and fraud surface, forcing the dying to come together to save someone's life.

Everybody dies. The lucky ones have fun doing it.


Interview with Kimberly Packard 

What cultural value do you see in reading?

I read a while back that readers of fiction are more empathetic, and I couldn’t agree more – and I’m sure that’s even more true of authors. When we read (or write) someone’s story that’s very different from ours, we get to slip into someone else’s life, feel their struggles and feel their joy. In a time when we see more divided than united, reading something that’s a bit outside of our world view is even more important than before. 

How does your book relate to your faith, spiritual practice, or life path?

DIRE’S CLUB could probably be summed up as my mortality book. But I don’t think it started that way. It’s really much more about life than dying, it’s about enjoying every last moment we have on this beautiful planet, and about enjoying every second we have with those close to us. And it’s also about forgiving ourselves and giving ourselves grace. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. 

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

I think the hardest part was Charlotte’s POV. It’s no secret that she struggles with thoughts of ending her life. I started writing the first draft the very week both Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade died by suicide. I had to take several breaks from writing her to go for walks, at least until she started to heal. 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Honestly, the group. As a kid I loved the movie The Breakfast Club, so in some ways this is my attempt to pay homage to that John Hughes classic. I adored Levi, I almost want to write a whole prequel of Levi Livingston and all of his raucous 80s hair band adventures. 

How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing?

So, this is pretty funny, but one of the influences in addition The Breakfast Club is Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I always enjoyed what Chaucer set out to do, and tragically he died before completing his work. Since I’m a nerd, I signed up for a class in college just on Chaucer. I think diving deep into The Canterbury Tales has stuck with me for all these years.  

What projects are you working on at the present?

My next project is a story about two women who share the role of a pop star – one is the face and the other is the voice – and the reporter who uncovers it. I’m nearly done with the first draft of it, and I have to say, it’s fun to have these two dynamically different characters start to take on the positive traits of each other. I’ve lovingly dubbed this my “Girl Power” book. 

Dire's Club trailer from Kimberly Walton on Vimeo.


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Friday, April 9, 2021




Series: A Spy Shop Mystery
Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
Pages: 364 pages
Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor

Rodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston? 

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.  

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper. 



"Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery." -- Alan Rinzler 
Lisa Haneberg's newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified purchaser from Amazon 

 Purchase Links
 Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble 

Lisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland. 

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor. 

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Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page




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Wednesday, April 7, 2021


“Ever since she could remember, Hettie had preferred animals to people. They were always happy to see her, grateful to be fed and given some attention.” 

I reviewed The Elephant of Belfast  (Counterpoint), S. Kirk Walsh’s debut novel, for Lone Star Lit! This is a beguiling and compelling story of historical fiction set during the 1941 Belfast Blitz. As the war begins to affect the charmed, self-contained world of the zoo (“a quiet, monastic refuge, where an inherent order and system guided its daily way of life”), Hettie must fight for herself and for her charges.