‘The Wind Knows My Name,’ by Isabel Allende

This is a day I celebrate since it’s the release day for The Wind Knows by Name by Isabel Allende, an author whose books I always read and enjoy. Plus, I’m inspired by the fact that an author older than me is still turning out high-quality stories, this one with a partial focus on Kristallnacht. 

From the Publisher

“Vienna, 1938. Samuel Adler is five years old when his father disappears during Kristallnacht—the night his family loses everything. As her child’s safety becomes ever harder to guarantee, Samuel’s mother secures a spot for him on a Kindertransport train out of Nazi-occupied Austria to England. He boards alone, carrying nothing but a change of clothes and his violin.

“Arizona, 2019. Eight decades later, Anita Díaz and her mother board another train, fleeing looming danger in El Salvador and seeking refuge in the United States. But their arrival coincides with the new family separation policy, and seven-year-old Anita finds herself alone at a camp in Nogales. She escapes her tenuous reality through her trips to Azabahar, a magical world of the imagination. Meanwhile, Selena Durán, a young social worker, enlists the help of a successful lawyer in hopes of tracking down Anita’s mother.

“Intertwining past and present, The Wind Knows My Name tells the tale of these two unforgettable characters, both in search of family and home. It is both a testament to the sacrifices that parents make and a love letter to the children who survive the most unfathomable dangers—and never stop dreaming.”

From the New York Times

“Telling a story that is rooted so deeply in political events can be a difficult balancing act; an author walks a fine line between writing immersive fiction and explaining historical and social context. “The Wind Knows My Name” contains little of the magic that defined Allende’s earlier novels. Instead, she turns her focus to the brutal details of government-sponsored violence and asks her reader to look closely at the devastation. Allende draws a straight line from Nazi Germany to modern-day atrocities — not because the specifics are the same, but because the damage is.”

From the Associated Press

“Allende moves the story back and forth between Europe and the United States, switches between the past and present, as two very different children in very different places and circumstances search for the safety of home and family.

“It’s a very different kind of book for Allende, who often places her stories in her native Latin America, including her best known and highly successful novel,The House of Spirits and last year’s Violeta, which stretches across a century of South American history.”

You can find an excerpt here.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal short stories and novels.


‘The Old Lion,’ by Jeff Shaara

The television documentary “FDR” is a wonderful introduction for those who aren’t familiar with the events leading up to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election as President or the programs he instituted to end the Depression. Since his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt is part of that documentary, it bought to mind Jeff Shaara’s latest historical novel about Teddy Roosevelt, The Old Lion which was released on May 16.

Shaara’s historical fiction makes no pretense of serving as autobiographies of the primary characters nor even a definitive history of people and events. This book is no different. It brings to life a man and his times in the way well-written historical fiction does best: through a story, or multiple stories, that show readers what happened in an understandable way.

From the Publisher

“In one of his most accomplished, compelling novels yet, acclaimed New York Times bestseller Jeff Shaara accomplishes what only the finest historical fiction can do – he brings to life one of the most consequential figures in U.S. history – Theodore Roosevelt – peeling back the many-layered history of the man, and the country he personified.

“From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, from the waning days of the rugged frontier of a young country to the emergence of a modern, industrial nation exerting its power on the world stage, Theodore Roosevelt embodied both the myth and reality of the country he loved and led.

“From his upbringing in the rarefied air of New York society of the late 19th century to his time in the rough-and-tumble world of the Badlands in the Dakotas, from his rise from political obscurity to Assistant Secretary of the Navy, from a national hero as the leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War to his accidental rise to the Presidency itself, Roosevelt embodied the complex, often contradictory, image of America itself.

“In gripping prose, Shaara tells the story of the man who both defined and created the modern United States.”

Kirkus Reviews wrote, “A glowing tribute to a Rushmore-worthy president. The Old Lion himself would have called it “dee-lightful!”

The Historical Novel Society wrote, “Readers will find no surprises in the plot of the novel, but they will come away with a greater understanding of Roosevelt and his place in history. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and those interested in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.”

Newsday wrote, “Midway through Jeff Shaara’s ‘The Old Lion: A Novel of Theodore Roosevelt,’ Roosevelt, “a tornado of energy,” whirls about the White House on Christmas Day, 1901. He entreats his wife, Edith, his children and others gathered there to dance along. As one guest, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, observes, “It is apparent to those of us who love him that the president is 6.”

“Roosevelt’s childlike enthusiasms enliven Shaara’s appealing and spirited portrait of the 26th President of the United States. Replete with the author’s vividly imagined Western showdowns, cavalry charges and jungle expeditions, “The Old Lion” entertains the 6-year-old in all of us.”

The book is a welcome addition to the libraries of fans of historical fiction.


‘The Oceans and the Stars,’ by Mark Helprin

The Oceans and the Stars: A Sea Story, A War Story, A Love Story, by Mark Helprin, The Overlook Press (October 3, 2023), Kindle and Hardcover available for pre-order.

All of Mark Helprin’s novels are on my shelf. It’s an understatement to say that, as a former Navy man and fan of his work, I’m very much looking forward to this book–and inspired by a 75-year-old author who is still at work.

From the Publisher

“Mark Helprin, the #1 New York Times, best-selling author of Winter’s Tale and A Soldier of the Great War, returns with a fast-paced, beautifully written novel about the majesty of the sea; a life dedicated to duty, honor, and country; and the gift of falling in love.
“A Navy captain near the end of a decorated career, Stephen Rensselaer is disciplined, intelligent, and determined always to do what’s right. In defending the development of a new variant of naval ship, he makes an enemy of the President of the United States, who assigns him to command the doomed line’s only prototype­––Athena, Patrol Coastal 15­­––with the intent to humiliate a man who should have been an admiral.
“Rather than resign, Rensselaer takes the new assignment in stride, and while supervising Athena’s fitting out in New Orleans, encounters a brilliant lawyer, Katy Farrar, with whom he falls in last-chance love. After failed marriages for both, this is a completely unexpected and exhilarating last chance. Soon thereafter, he is deployed on a mission that subjects his integrity, morality, and skill to the ultimate test, and ensures that Athena will live forever in the annals of the Navy.
“As in the Odyssey, Katy is the force that keeps him alive and the beacon that lights the way home through seven battles, mutiny, and court martial. In classic literary form, an enthralling new novel that extolls the virtues of living by the laws of conscience, decency, and sacrifice, The Oceans and the Stars is nothing short of a masterpiece.”

From the Author’s Website

Helprin in the Italian Alps

“Mark Helprin belongs to no literary school, movement, tendency, or trend. As many have observed, and as Time Magazine has phrased it, “He lights his own way.” His three collections of short stories (A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Ellis Island and Other Stories, and The Pacific and Other Stories), seven novels (Refiner’s Fire, Winter’s Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Memoir From Antproof Case, Freddy and Fredericka, In Sunlight and in Shadow, and Paris in the Present Tense), and three children’s books (Swan Lake, A City in Winter, and The Veil of Snows, all illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg), speak eloquently.”

Helprin’s plots are solid and his writing is among the most beautiful on the planet. Once the book is released, I’ll try to add an editorial review.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Vietnam War novel “At Sea.” The author’s cover photo is of the USS Ranger (CVA-61).

‘The Collected Enchantments’ by Theodora Goss

I’m a fan of Goss’ fantasies, especially the three-book series, Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club. One thing that makes them fun is the incorporation of other well-known myths and stories. You’ll find the same glorious extrapolations in The Collected Enchantments.

From the Publisher

A monumental career retrospective

“In the tradition of great modern fantasists like Angela Carter and Marina Warner, Theodora Goss’s sublime tales are modern classics—beautiful, sly, sensual and deeply moving . . . I envy any reader encountering Goss’s work for the first time.”
—Elizabeth Hand, winner of the Mythopoeic, Nebula, Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy awards

A wicked stepsister frets over all the ways in which she failed to receive her mother’s love. A lost woman travels through an enchanted forest looking for someone who can remind her of her name. A girl must wear down seven pairs of shoes to gain help from a witch. A fox makes a life with a human, but neither can deny their true natures. A young woman returns to her childhood home and the fantastic stories she left there. A man lets himself be taken prisoner by the Snow Queen to prove that the woman who loves him would walk barefoot through the ice to save him. Medusa cuts her hair for love.

The Collected Enchantments gathers retellings of folk and fairy tales in prose and verse from World Fantasy and Locus award-winning author Theodora Goss, creator of The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series. Drawing from her Mythopoeic Award-nominated collections In the Forest of Forgetting and Songs for Ophelia and her Mythopoeic Award-winning tome Snow White Learns Witchcraft, and adding new and uncollected stories and poems, The Collected Enchantments provides a resounding demonstration of how, as Jo Walton writes, Goss provides “a vivid, authentic and important voice” that, in the words of Jane Yolen, “transposes, transforms, and transcends times, eras, and old tales with ease.”

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the four-novel Florida Folk Magic Series set in the state’s panhandle of the 1950s. 

‘Pioneering Women of Glacier National Park’ by David R. Butler

This new book is a must for students, researchers, authors, and hikers in Glacier National Park, Montana.  Released March 27, the book is another in a string of titles about the park by long-time researcher and former geography professor David R. Butler who has worked and hiked through the park since the early 1970s.

From the Publisher

Pioneering Women of Glacier National Park examines the role of early pioneering women in the pre-park period up through the first three decades of Glacier Park (1910-1940). The concept of ‘pioneering women’ includes a wide range of activities that were atypical for women during this time period. These activities range from Blackfeet and other Native American women carrying out extraordinary feats, to women homesteaders, wives of early Park rangers, writers visiting and writing about the park, artists engaged in outdoor painting, influential artists’ wives who furthered their husbands’ careers, and pioneering outdoorswomen. All helped advance the cause of putting female faces and names, largely ignored and anonymous up to this point, into the history of the park. The book also has several modern photographs taken by the author and others, illustrating landscape changes in Glacier Park since the early period of the park.”

Butler provided me with a list of the table of contents headings which one would normally see provided by the publisher had they activated Amazon’s “look inside” feature:




Native American Pioneering Women

Pioneering Women Homesteaders and Settlers

Ranger Wives: Pioneers of a New National Park

Pioneering Women Authors of Glacier National Park

Influential Wives of Early Glacier Park Artists

Pioneering Women Artists of Glacier National Park

Pioneer Outdoorswomen of Glacier National Park

Afterword: The Lasting Legacy of the Pioneering Women of Glacier Park




Malcolm R. Campbell, who also worked as a summer employee in Glacier National Park, has written fiction set in the park, and his account of the 1964 flood appears A View Inside Glacier National Park: 100 Years – 100 Stories edited by Kassandra Hardy.

Upcoming title, June 15, ‘The Last Lookout on Dunn Peak’ by  Nancy Sule Hammond 

Coming in June from Basalt Books, The Last Lookout on Dunn Peak is available for pre-order.

From the Publisher

“Some summers are destined to generate cherished memories. For married high school sweethearts Don and Nancy Hammond, they happened in 1972 and 1973, when Don’s lifelong dream of being a United States Forest Service fire lookout came true.

“Don’s first post, the Dunn Peak Lookout, was located eight miles northwest of Avery in Idaho’s St. Joe National Forest. Once they arrived, they breathlessly lugged provisions and water up steep stairs to its fifteen-by-fifteen-foot cab two stories above the forest floor. Furnishings included a single bed, small bookcase, cabinet, and table, and a wood stove. There was no electricity or running water. A battery powered two-way Motorola radio would be their only connection to the outside world. That night–engulfed by lightning strikes and filled with adrenalin–they faced their first storm.

“Unless it was foggy or raining, the Forest Service required Don to conduct binocular searches from the catwalk at least twenty minutes of every hour while he was on duty. He watched for smoke during the day and the glow of fire at night, and learned to distinguish between blue smoke plumes and white wisps of fog. Despite the primitive conditions, Don, Nancy, and their Dalmatian, Misty, settled in and came to love their lookout life. They spotted wildfires, were startled by their first cougar scream, encountered a wide variety of human and animal visitors, discovered delectable huckleberry patches, and simply enjoyed the enchanting beauty all around them.

“The Forest Service decided to close the Dunn Peak Lookout, so the couple spent the summer of 1973 at the Middle Sister Peak tower, ten miles southeast of Avery. In The Last Lookout, Nancy shares stories from those two exciting, magical fire seasons, along with their return as volunteers 37 years later. Interspersing regional fire history as well as dangers and details of the work, she journeys back to the narrow catwalks and stunning panoramas–a place where storms are building, the forest is dry, and any lightning strike could ignite a raging wildfire.”

About the Author

The daughter of a steel mill worker, Nancy Sule Hammond grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and fell for her future spouse at a high school dance. She received a biology degree from Kutztown University, then ran quality control tests on disposable medical syringes. But she yearned for adventure, and found it when her husband spent two summers as a fire lookout in Idaho’s St. Joe National Forest. They returned to the Middle Sister tower as volunteers in 2010. After decades away they moved back to Idaho, and recently celebrated their fifty-second anniversary.

Looking forward to this book! I’ve climbed up in a lot of Fire Towers and read accounts of people in them during thunderstorms. The work isn’t for the faint of heart.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and its three follow -up books, all of which are available on Kindle/Nook, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover. 

‘Hello Beautiful’ by Ann Napolitano

Hello Beautiful, by Ann Napolitano (March 2023) has been chosen as the 100th selection by Oprah’s Book Club. Of the book, Oprah said, “I’m telling you, once you start, you won’t want it to end…and be prepared for tears.”

According to Book Browse News, “Maybe it was fate, maybe it was the meddling of a higher power with a wicked sense of humor. Either way, Ann Napolitano was taking out the garbage when Oprah Winfrey called to tell her that her novel, ‘Hello Beautiful,’ is the 100th selection for what is arguably the most influential book club in the world.

“Napolitano was so afraid of losing the connection that she stood stock-still in the tiny vestibule of her Park Slope apartment building, clutching her bag of trash, for the duration of the 27-minute call.”

From the Publisher

“William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.

“But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?

“An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little WomenHello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.”

Her 2021 novel Dear Edward is an Apple TV+ series starring Connie Britton.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism and contemporary fantasy stories and novels.

Burning Books The Modern Way

Books are the most vulnerable in school libraries and school courses. All a student has to do, on his/her own or with the urging of parents, is to claim that a book offends him/her and suddenly the book is gone.

So far, I don’t think today’s school children are weaker than they were when I went through K-12 level schooling, though we probably couldn’t have gotten away with the politically motivated, woe-is-me behavior we see today. So, I think they can read most books without dying from them.

These books are banned in Martin County, FloridaAccording to PEN America, “Books are under profound attack in the United States. They are disappearing from library shelves, being challenged in droves, being decreed off limits by school boards, legislators, and prison authorities. And everywhere, it is the books that have long fought for a place on the shelf that are being targeted. Books by authors of color, by LGBTQ+ authors, by women. Books about racism, sexuality, gender, history. PEN America pushes back against the banning of books and the intolerance, exclusion, and censorship that undergird it.” Learn more from this report.

What’s happening is obvious. Politicians who couldn’t defeat legislation that didn’t like are going after the books and, no doubt, each banned book represents a feeling of power over a lot of people.

Politicians–who really have no business using K-12 schools or state universities as political footballs don’t like books like To Kill a Mocking Bird and I know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Allegedly–as the politicians charge–such books make people uncomfortable. My response is so what? I’m sure students feel uncomfortable when their football team loses the big game. Or when the person they want to go to the prom with goes with somebody else. That’s life. And, if feeling bad after reading a book is the worst thing a person experiences, they’re really in good shape.

Along with book banning and editing older fiction to conform to today’s political “standards,” we now have sensitivity readers checking manuscripts for offensive content or bias. Offensive to whose agenda? Sounds like publisher CYA to me.

I told my Facebook followers today that if my conjure books are around fifty years from now, a hex will automatically stop any politician or publisher who tries to alter what I wrote. They’ll come down with boils or syphilis or out-of-control dandruff. All writers need a little conjure to keep the unwashed politicians away from their books.

As I see it, October 1-7 isn’t long enough for banned books week. We need something that keeps our eyes on the problem 24/7/365.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the four-part Florida Folk Magic Series. If politicians knew about the books, they’d try to ban them since, God knows, we don’t want to offend anyone whose grandaddy was in the Klan.

Book Bits: Theodora Goss, Scott Adams, Tár, James Bond

This column about books, authors, publishing, and related films used to appear here frequently. I hope you enjoy the links and find a few things to strike your fancy.

I try to avoid sites with paywalls unless they give people several free reads before the paywall kicks in. I know how irritating it is to find interesting links on Facebook only to discover when I click on the that I’m now allowed to see the stories.

  1. cover image Tell Me Everything: A MemoirReview: Tell Me Everything: A Memoir – “Actor Kelly recalls her far-from-privileged upbringing and reflects on the skills that helped her survive it in this heart-stopping debut. In nonlinear vignettes, Kelly recounts her chaotic childhood as the daughter of an addict.” Publishers Weekly  Additional Info, Wikipedia: Minka Kelly is an American actress and model. Her first starring role was in the NBC drama series Friday Night Lights and she has also appeared on the shows Parenthood, Charlie’s Angels, and Almost Human. From 2018 to 2021, Kelly portrayed Dawn Granger /Dove on the DC Universe / HBO Max series Titans.
  2. FeatureA flood destroyed all of Sarah’s books, but a gift from a librarian changed her life  – “In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston. More than 70,000 houses were flooded, including the home of Sarah Feldman and her family. At the time, they were in Connecticut on vacation, so they didn’t know what kind of damage they were going to face when they got home to Texas. But then Feldman’s grandparents called with bad news: all of her books had been destroyed in the flooding. Feldman was 14 at the time and loved reading.” NPR
  3. cover image The Collected EnchantmentsReview: The Collected Enchantments, by Theodora Goss  – “This vibrant collection brings together World Fantasy Award winner Goss’s exquisite interpretations of and variations on familiar folk and fairy tales. The 48 poems and 25 stories span the length of Goss’s career.” Publishers Weekly – Goss is also the author of three fantasy novels in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series.
  4. News ‘SNL’ Takes Aim at ‘Dilbert’ Creator Scott Adams Following Racist Rant – “The centerpiece of “Saturday Night Live’s” March 4 ‘Weekend Update’ segment was a Scott Adams 2017.pngskewering of ‘Dilbert’ comic creator Scott Adams, who went on a racist rant last month that spurred dozens of newspapers to drop his long-running syndicated cartoon strip.” Variety See also ‘Dilbert’ cartoonist Scott Adams will be ‘backpedaling’ from his racist remarks for ’years’: Rich Lowry
  5. ReviewThe Writing Retreat, by Julia Bartz – Five writers, four weeks, and a $1 million book deal for the lucky winner. Unless they disappear first. . .Despite Alex’s somewhat whiny nature, the book’s THE WRITING RETREATpacing—a slow roll of dread and horror, especially in the first half—is exceptional. Bartz hits all the gothic highlights, but, far from feeling stale, they work. A perfect winter night’s haunting.” Kirkus Reviews. See also:  WITHOUT SHAME: FEMALE WRITERS ON FEMALE PSYCHOPATHS by Julia Bartz in “Crime Reads.”
  6. OpinionWhy Tár should win the best picture Oscar – “Cate Blanchett is wonderfully Tár poster.jpgcommanding as the sociopath musical megastar whose life is crumbling around her but it is the steely menace in Todd Field’s film that is simply delicious. The great crack-up of Lydia Tár, the Berlin Philharmonic’s entirely fictitious but docudramatically real-seeming chief conductor, has given the cinema its greatest spectacle, its greatest provocation and its greatest pleasure. If there is any justice, it will be producer-director Todd Field, with fellow producers Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert, who will be invited up on stage at the end of the evening to receive the climactic best picture statuette.” Guardian
  7. Ian Fleming.jpgNews:  Fleming’s Bond Novels To Be Edited for Language, by Michael Schaub – “Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., the company that manages the literary estate of the British author who created 007, is republishing the writer’s spy novels this spring, in a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the first Bond book, Casino Royale. The new editions of the books were reviewed by sensitivity readers, who recommended that the n-word be removed from the novels. Other racially insensitive passages have been changed, including one from Live and Let Die, which originally described patrons at a Harlem nightclub as “panting and grunting like pigs at the trough.” The new version reads, “Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.” Kirkus Reviews (Comment: The sensitivity police strike again.)


Paper burns at 451° F

Paper burns at 451° F, sometimes as low as 424° F.

So, you can see how easy it is to burn books or–as we often see in the movies–incriminating notes in an ashtray.

Do you suppose this will be our ultimate method for keeping unapproved books off the shelves, out of the classrooms, and outside public discourse?

We even have a manual for how to do it, a manual that the publisher “cleaned it up” before Dahl’s publisher and estate applied the cutting torch to his works.

Suppose, like the Catholic Church, the  Imperial Federal government and the state governments were to decide upon one approved list that would prevent the contamination of our citizens or the corruption of beliefs and sensibilities through the reading of theologically erroneous or immoral books.

This would save money because there would be no more book ban hearings, no more teachers sneaking personal books into their classrooms, and no more publishers having to clean up works that might offend some weakling who might turn into a serial killer by reading a 100-year-old swear word in a novel.

A simple match will clean house and save humanity.