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Local Authors on the Shelf

Triumph over suffering and the journey to find meaning in life feature strongly as themes in recent works by local authors, though they couldn't be more different in their execution. 

The Summer Lands, Angels and Elementals Book 1, by Susan Butler-Colwell, published by Jett Rink Media

In her first book, The Summerlands, Susan Butler-Colwell delves into what happens when we die, how souls plan their next lives on Earth, and how we deal with evil on a cosmic level. But you can also think of it as a love story – a just one that takes place on a metaphysical plane as imagined by someone with a highly eclectic world view trying to make sense of the universe. Susan tells us, “In my books, the creator is a tight-lipped, shapeshifting female, my archangels are hot guys with wings, swords, and great hair, and my elementals are goddesses who can flash up a miracle or a bottle of single malt scotch with a snap of their fingers or a wave of the hand. They are magical, powerful, vulnerable, and flawed. They have adventures, learn lessons, and share tongue-in-cheek spiritual insights along the way because that’s just fun storytelling.” Book one unveils the mission given to her heroine Seraphina, goddess of fire, book two, Demon Dagger, with the consequences of her actions. Book three, Angel Fire, is expected this summer.

A Quiet Cadence, a novel by Mark Treanor, published by the Naval Institute Press

A better written or more emotionally gripping novel than A Quiet Cadence is hard to find, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Just reading it carries the force of being transported to the Vietnam War in 1969, as experienced by grunts on the ground. Unlike other “period pieces,” this story follows Mark’s protagonist, one such soldier, Marty McClure back home to where he struggles to regain his peace of mind in later life. Mark tells us, “With the reflection and perception of an older man, he remembers – sometimes with almost a retrospective sense of amazement – how combat transformed him, perhaps out of necessity, certainly out of fear, anger and a deep nearly selfless concern for the life and limbs of his friends, into a bifurcated personality.” 

Can You See My Scars? by Samuel Moore-Sobel, published by Mascot Books

Samuel Moore-Sobel attended Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia, and graduated from George Mason University in 2015. When he was 15 years old, he was hired by a man to move boxes and furniture. He relates, “By day's end, I had suffered second- and third-degree burns to my face and arms after an accidental encounter with sulfuric acid.... My scars have affected every aspect of my life. They led me into destructive romantic relationships, caused me to doubt my faith, and made me question whether I wanted to keep on living.” The questions he raises in his memoir, and the answers he unearths, touch on identity, suffering, purpose and ultimately what it means to be human. 

The Storyteller, Tales of Life and Music, by Dave Grohl, Audible.com

Not surprisingly, the best way to experience rock star Dave Grohl’s memoir, intended to “shed a little light on what it's like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician,” is by listening to Dave tell it in his audio book. We were pleasantly surprised to find it as an included book in an annual Audible subscription, and moved by his emotion from relating the death of his friend Kurt Cobain, to his amazed glee at meeting and playing with musicians he idolized as a kid. 

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