Assuredly, among your New Year's resolutions is the vow to read and support local authors. In service thereof, the latest in our occasional Book Beat series will help keep you informed about recent and possibly overlooked efforts by regional wordsmiths.
"Magician's Choice" by Todd A. Gipstein (Dog Ear Publishing, $19.95, $9.95 Kindle) - The author is an accomplished prestidigitator, and he weaves the intricacies of the craft into a historical novel that features iconic local landmarks as well as guest appearances by Harry Blackstone Sr., Albert Einstein and Ella Fitzgerald.
"Letters from Sandy Hook - Newtown to the World" edited by Suzanne Davenport (Karuna Publications, $29.95) - More than 100 letters written by Newtown residents in the aftermath of the tragic school shooting, offering a portrait of grace and human spirit.
"Spit Shine" by Tage N. Wright, Sr. (Create Space, $8.96 paper, $3.95 Kindle) - A new short novel by the Oakdale writer - based on his earlier play "A Rare Encounter" - about life's circuitous road, hard-earned wisdom and finding mentors where one least expects them.
"Campanilismo" - Crime and Intrigue in International Biotech" by William O'Neill Curatolo (Bayberry Institute Press, $12) - The author, a Niantic resident, describes this as a pharma-suspense novel but, despite the misdeeds in the narrative, assures readers that he's never actually killed anyone.
"Green-Winged Horse" by Lyubomir Levchev (Little Red Tree Publishing, $24.95) - A collection by the renowned Bulgarian poet, who was named winner of the 2013 William Meredith Award for Poetry. As part of the award - named for Meredith, the late Montville resident and former U.S. Poet Laureate - Levchev received a contract with New London's Little Red Tree Publishing that resulted in this book.
"OMG ... Am I a Witch?!" by Talia Aikens-Nuñez (Pinwheel Books, $8.99 paper, $4.99 eBook) - A children's story about a young girl who discovers magical powers after she accidentally turns her annoying brother into a dog - then must race with her pals to find a reversal spell before her parents find out. The author, formerly of Old Saybrook and now in New Haven, is currently on a blog tour. For more info, access facebook.com/TaliaAikensNunezChildrensWriter.
"The Dead Cattle Ranch Mystery" by Madeleine Carroll (Xlibris, $20.69 hardcover, $12.82 paper, $3.00 eBook) - The North Stonington author describes her novel as a modern day Hardy Boys mystery intersected with military family life.
"Christmas Love" by Dawn Foss (Tate Publishing, $11.99 paper, $10.99 digital download) - Wise folks say it's never to early to get a jump on the holiday season. As such, this novel by a Middletown author shows how the original Christmas story is absolutely relevant to today's communities - and should get you out of the gate for next December well before Black Friday.
"The Frosted Window" by Dan Hyland (Amazon Digital, $0.99 Kindle) - Speaking of Christmas tales, this is a fantasy by a Pawcatuck writer about events a little girl thought she saw one Christmas Eve through the titular window.
"Corrective Exercises For Reducing Common Aches and Pains" by Todd M. Cambio (Amazon Digital Services, $4.99 Kindle) - The author, a Westerly trainer, presents simple, real-world solutions for many of the common dysfunctions of the body that make us hurt.
"Promised Land: Nun's Struggle against Landlessness, Lawlessness, Slavery, Poverty, Corruption, Injustice, and Environmental Devastation in Amazonia" by Glenn Cheney (Cheney Books, $8.50 paper, $3.99 Kindle) - Expanded to book form from an article the Hanover writer originally published in Harper's, this is the nonfiction account of a nun, Sister Leonora Brunetto, who lives and works in Brazil's essentially lawless state of Mato Grosso.
"The Orchid Awakening" by Michael Marciano (Amazon Digital, $10.95 paper, $9.95 Kindle) - Latest book from Stonington writer describes a journey through schizophrenia and rehab and subsequent explorations on topics such as politics, religion and conspiracies.
"With Broken Wings: A True Story of Healing and Reclaiming a Voice Lost" by Jerie Catillo (AuthorHouse, $26.09 hardcover, $17.96 paper, $3.99 eBook) - Memoir by Uncasville resident about courage and strength in battling through childhood sexual abuse and, later on, physical and sexual abuse as an adult.
"Manstein: The Inner Genius Within Us All" by Jason Hughes (Dog Ear Publishing, $29.95 hardcover, $16.95 paper, $9.99 eBook) - Hughes was a rising tennis star in Old Saybrook until a car crash killed his best friend and left the author, then 16, with serious brain injuries. After time in a coma and years of rehab, he emerged with a new appreciation for life and the "inner genius" the book claims is within us all.
"Class Reunions Can Be Murder" - Every Wife Has A Story; A Carol and Jim Andrews Baby Boomer Mystery" by Susan Santangelo (Amazon Digital Services, $13 paper, $2.99 Kindle) - The fourth in this series by the Old Saybrook writer. Carol Andrews joins the committee planning a 40th high school reunion - and all goes awry when a classmate is murdered on the eve of the event.
Finally, because the lords of Book Beat are decidedly fallible, special note should be made of New London's Vince Tuckwood, whom we've missed before now. Widely known as a fine musician and songwriter (both with his band Monkey68 and Anne Castellano & the Smoke), Tuckwood is also a prolific poet, essayist and novelist. He's published four novels through iUniverse: "Karaoke Criminals," "Family Rules," "Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies" and "Escalation" - and all are available at vtuckwood.net.