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Read Up on Local Authors

Cozy up and enjoy a good read written by your neighbors. These autobiographical books are sure to inspire, intrigue and educate readers.

Daughter of the Land by Betsy Blanchard Chess

A member of a fourth-generation Ventura County farming and ranching family, Betsy’s roots run deep. In her book, Daughter of the Land, she traces her family’s role in shaping local agriculture, including the founding of Santa Paula and Limoneira Farms, and presents a rich history of area farming spanning almost 200 years.

Filled with hundreds of photos from the very beginning of the first farm, Daughter of the Land presents captivating vignettes of Betsy’s many relatives and their impact on Santa Paula and the verdant Santa Clara Valley of Ventura County. Her family still operates Limoneira, one of the leading distributors of lemons, avocados and other produce throughout America and internationally. Betsy also writes about the marginalized farm working communities that have constituted the majority of the workforce for the citrus capital of the world.

Readers will enjoy Betsy’s unique account about the hard work and delight of life on the ranch. Her words and pictures provide insight into a way of living that no longer exists.

Cost of Arrogance by H. Mitchell Caldwell

The first book in the new Jake Clearwater Legal Thrillers series, Cost of Arrogance (Nine Innings Press) chronicles the courtroom drama of a law professor fighting the death penalty. Penned by Pepperdine law professor and Westlake Village resident H. (Harry) Mitchell Caldwell, the book slants autobiographical. A former District Attorney turned criminal defense lawyer, Caldwell draws from his life as a Professor of Law and Director of Trial Advocacy at Pepperdine/Caruso Law School to delve into a world of criminals, small-town rivalries and a law school, creating a powerful story of believing in justice for all.

The book’s main character, Jake Clearwater, like Caldwell, is a law professor who represents death row inmates appealing their convictions before the California Supreme Court. Cost of Arrogance presents an action-packed realistic account of courtroom drama, suspense and the exquisite workings of law and, ultimately, justice.

Have Bikini, Will Cruise by Gail Small

Imagine yourself lounging on a deck chair next to your new friend Gail Small. In her book, Have Bikini, Will Cruise, she shares some almost unbelievable but true stories about cruising the seven seas and exploring the world with a sense of joy and wonder. An international speaker, author, teacher and world traveler, Gail has been featured on worldwide cruise ships as well as at national and international conferences, presenting on subjects from travel and creativity to choices, self-esteem and writing.

“This is a book of my memoirs,” says Gail, who aims to “bring joy to future cruisers and remembrances to cruisers with a positive take on cherished cruising. We can all recall once-in-a-lifetime laughs, leisure and navigation to infinite possibilities. The moments and mishaps. I stopped counting cruises a while ago after I got to 101. I am happy that cruising can now begin again. Cruising will be different and is resuming as safe, reasonable and ready with the new modern-day ‘normal’.”   


Fighting Chance by Alicia Doyle

Award-winning journalist Alicia Doyle's unique, fast-paced memoir Fighting Chance recounts her transformation into an amateur boxer in the late 1990s and how this demanding sport helped her process her buried rage and pain from a volatile childhood.

In her autobiographical novel, Alicia tells the story of how she discovered boxing while writing an article as a newspaper reporter and ended up pursuing the sport, winning two Golden Gloves championships and briefly turning pro at age 30 before returning to a full-time journalism career. Providing a look into the issues of women’s sports, Fighting Chance has won three awards since it was published in 2020: 1st Place for Creative Nonfiction in the 2020 North Street Book Prize Winning Writers Competition, 2020 WBAN Awards “Cool Story of the Year” and “Best of Los Angeles Award” for Best Autobiographical Book of 2021.

Look for Alicia’s second nonfiction novel, The Oath, this month on Valentine’s Day!

  • Gail Small
  • Gail Small
  • Gail Small
  • Betsy Chess
  • H. Mitchell Caldwell
  • Alicia Doyle