Robert Runté Recommends Playground of Lost Toys

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Playground of Lost Toys
edited by Ursula Pflug and Colleen Anderson

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Quick description:
An anthology of 22 original short stories by a cross section of Canada’s top sf, fantasy and horror writers examines the role that that one special toy plays in our childhoods and/or the impact that has on our adult selves.

Ursula Pflug

Ursula Pflug

Why I recommend this book:
This wasn’t an anthology I thought I’d be interested in, but I really respect the editors, so I ultimately got involved. And then, at a prelaunch party I heard some of the writers read from the anthology and it blew me away! So not the sentimental stories about lost dolls I had half expected. Instead, an incredible array of powerful writing that ranged from funny to moving to chilling.

Colleen Anderson

Colleen Anderson

I may never get some of the imagery out of my head! When I finally got my copy I was struck by how the editors had been able to assemble an indispensable collection of some of the best writing this country has to offer. The thoughtful introductions by the editors, and the afterword by Derek Newman-Stiles, are themselves worth the price of admission. Table of contents is available at the website. Ursula Pflug has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations.

Links for people to buy the book:
Amazon
Chapters/Indigo

runte2 Guest reviewer’s latest title or project:
My latest sale was the short story “The Age of Miracles” to the Strangers Among Us anthology, edited by Lucas Law and Susan Forest, due out in August 2016. The anthology is on the theme of, and a benefit for, mental health. (Robert Runté is a contributor to this anthology and has also been previously featured on Reading Recommendations.)

Sally Cronin – an update on a new collection of short stories

Welcome back, Sally Cronin! Sally was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in March 2015, and has featured me and my books numerous times on her own blog. As well, Sally has been a great support of this blog in reblogging many of the other authors’ promotions. Thank you, Sally!

Sally says: I am very grateful to Susan Toy for her continuing support of my books through the excellent Reading Recommendations. Being featured here in 2015 has certainly been a very positive experience.

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Tales From The Garden
– Behind the scenes
by Sally Cronin

Writing short stories has always been a way for me to escape for a couple of hours from more mundane but necessary tasks such as homework and then more fact orientated documents such as annual budgets or training manuals. I began to write a weekly short story for my blog as a way to keep me motivated whilst working on other longer term projects. It also provides instant feedback and hopefully keeps interest in my writing fresh.

About Tales from the Garden:

This collection of fairy stories was my surprise book of the year and I am so delighted with the response to its release.

Tales from the Garden is a collection of fairy stories and 80 illustrations, for children of all ages, from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

The tales reveal the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees and you will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories.
There are wicked witches, mischievous dwarves who also spend too much in the sneezeweed patch. Dragons, handsome fairy princes and wayward ladies of the court. The garden is a magic sanctuary and those in danger find their way through the gates to protection.

The guardians who have kept this sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

The book is available at a substantial discount via my own website
Also at Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA

DSC_0869 a About Sally Cronin:

Sally Cronin spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, Radio & Television; and has taken a great deal of inspiration from each.

She has written short stories and poetry since a very young age and contributed to media in the UK and Spain. In 1996 Sally began studying nutrition to inspire her to lose 150 lbs and her first book, Size Matters published in 2001, told the story of that journey back to health. This was followed by another seven books across a number of genres including health, humour and romance. These include Just Food For Health, Size Matters, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, Flights of Fancy anthology, Turning Back the Clock and Media Training.

All these can be found on Amazon or Smashwords.

For the last two years Sally has written a daily blog covering the subjects close to her heart including writing, health and music: Smorgasbord Invitation – Variety is the Spice of Life. You can link to it from here.

Connect to Sally on social media.
Website
LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook
Facebook Author Page
Google+

My thanks again to Susan for inviting me to update you with news of my latest book.

You are most welcome here any time, Sally! Thanks for visiting again.

Maria Savva and Ben Ditmars – update on a new anthology

Maria Savva was originally featured on Reading Recommendations in Dec. 2013, and Ben Ditmars was featured on the site in Feb. 2014. Both authors have contributed to this new anthology recently published.

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Tales From The Cacao Tree (Book 4 in The Mind’s Eye Series)
with contributions by Maria Saava and Ben Ditmars
Genre: Mixed – poetry, short stories, photography; an anthology

From a review by Maria Haskins on Amazon:
Tales From The Cacao Tree is the latest installment in the Mind’s Eye Series, a series of anthologies containing poetry and short stories inspired by, and accompanied by, photographs. This fourth book in the series, as you may gather from the title and the delectable cover, is all about chocolate.

Just like the other Mind’s Eye books, Tales From The Cacao Tree is an eclectic and enjoyable blend of different genres and writing styles, and as a reader you get to experience chocolate in every imaginable (and unimaginable!) way. There really is a bit of everything here: beautiful and evocative (and sometimes playful) poetry by Ben Ditmars, Helle Gade, and Richard Weatherly, and short stories by Darcia Helle, Maria Savva, Julie Elizabeth Powell, and J. Michael Radcliffe.

Many of the stories inspired by the accompanying chocolaty pictures involve nefarious and violent crimes: so, obviously, chocolate has a dark side…

The fantastic photos in the anthology were taken by Helle Gade, Kim Stapf, and Martin David Porter. And reader beware, you will probably end up craving chocolate while you’re reading!

Purchase this book from:
Amazon

Axel Howerton

Axelheadshotbw2wbAxel Howerton

What is your latest release and what genre is it? AB Negative – Crime anthology, fiction

Quick description: AB Negative is an anthology of Alberta-based crime stories, by Albertan authors. This is a labour of love for crime writers from across the province, focusing on our beloved home province with stories ranging throughout time, geography and stylistic bent. There are dark noirish tales of sin and revenge, drug deals gone wrong, homey stories about neighbourhood killers, humorous tales of bumbling mafiosa, detectives on Stephen Avenue, and futuristic visions of sexbot domination.

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Brief biography:
Axel Howerton is the author of the darkly funny detective novel Hot Sinatra, a finalist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Axel is a former entertainment journalist, award-winning poet, and editor. His short fiction has recently appeared in such weird and wonderful publications as Fires on the Plain, Steampunk Originals, Clones Fairies & Monsters in the Closet, Big Pulp, Night Shade, Dark Eclipse, and Sleuth Magazine. He is the editor of the anthologies, Death by Drive-In, Tall Tales of the Weird West, and AB Negative.

Axel is a member of the CSFFA, Calgary Crime Writers, The Kintsugi Poets, and serves on the board of the Crime Writers of Canada. He recently brought the “Noir at the Bar” #NoirBarYYC event to Calgary, Alberta, and he is the owner and publisher of Coffin Hop Press. Axel spends most of his time roaming the untamed prairies of Alberta with his two brilliant young sons and a wife that is way out of his league.

Links to buy Axel’s book:
All the links can be found on the Coffin Hop Press website.

Axel’s promo links:
Coffin Hop Press
Axel Howerton website

What are you working on now?
After having produced, edited and published two anthologies this year, as well as publishing new fiction in great new venues like Sleuth Magazine, I’m going to take a little time for myself and get back to some novel-length projects. One is a humorous action-adventure-style historical look at Fort Whoop-up and the formation of the NWMP in Alberta. The other is a sprawling crime saga involving several characters that have appeared in some of my short fiction.

Axel’s reading recommendation:
The Friends Of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, which was a formative influence on the crime writing of Elmore Leonard. It’s very quick and snappy writing, a lot of dialogue and very little in the way of descriptive prose. Solid crime-writing and excellent criminal characterization from a man who was, at the time, an assistant US Attorney.

Randy McCharles, who has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations, has written one of the stories included in this anthology.

Lee Kvern

Lee KvernLee Kvern

What is your latest release and what genre is it? 7 Ways To Sunday – Short Story Collection

Quick description: 7 Ways To Sunday – a short story collection that grapples with humanity in all its flawed, often guffawed glory. An artist’s girlfriend dies by mistake. A mother holds surveillance on her son’s foray into drugs. A sibling’s jealousy raises its green head toward her sickly brother. A father’s death; a mother’s fear for her unbridled, grade-two son. A hijab-wearing woman challenges the modern world of Save-on groceries, along with an arborist, his wife and a Shar-Pei – all in need of an attitude adjustment. A bed-ridden woman looks back over her life. RCMP and prostitutes arrive for family tea on a Wednesday afternoon. These are some of the happy/sad, mad/glad themes laid out in this Oh-Humanity collection of stories captured with humour, compassion and insight by Lee Kvern.

“Lee Kvern is one of those generous writers who leaves her heart and intelligence on every page. And what a big heart it is. What a marvelously vibrant, wholly original intelligence.” ~ Barbara Gowdy

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Brief biography:
Lee Kvern is the award-winning author of short stories and novels. Afterall was selected for 2013 Canada Reads (Regional)< and, also nominated for Alberta Books Awards. The Matter of Sylvie was nominated for both the Alberta Book Awards and Ottawa Relit Award. Her short stories are also well-celebrated: National winner CBC Literary Award, winner: Western Magazine Awards, Hazel Hilles Memorial Short Fiction Prize, Howard ‘O’ Hagan Award. Her work has been produced for CBC Radio, published in Event, Descant, Air Canada enRoute, subTerrain. On-line: Joyland.ca, Foundpress.com and LittleFiction.com

Lee Kvern is the past Alberta Writer’s Guild Mentor 2014 and former Writer-in-Residence for the Canadian Authors Association 2013.

Links to buy Lee’s book:
Great Plains Publications
Chapters/Indigo
Amazon

Lee’s promo links:
Twitter
Website

Reviews for 7 WAYS TO SUNDAY:
From Pickle Me This: 7 Ways To Sunday by Lee Kvern
From FreeFall Magazine: J.D Mersault’s Book Review of “7 Ways to Sunday” by Lee Kvern

What are you working on now?
Book 4

Lee’s reading recommendation:
Boundary Problems by Greg Bechtel

Jacob M. Appel

Jacob M Appel Photograph (7-29-10)Jacob M. Appel

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Einstein’s Beach House – Short stories.

Quick description: A couple adopt a depressed hedgehog; a mother is seduced by the father of her daughter’s imaginary friend; a man kidnaps his ex-wife’s pet turtle. In eight tragicomic stories, Einstein’s Beach House features ordinary men and women rising to life’s extraordinary challenges.

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Brief biography:
Jacob M. Appel’s first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the 2012 Dundee International Book Award and was published by Cargo. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2014. His most recent books include a novel, The Biology of Luck (Elephant Rock, 2013), an essay collection, Phoning Home (University of South Carolina Press, 2014) and a short story collection, Einstein’s Beach House (Pressgang/Butler University, 2014). Jacob’s short fiction has appeared in more than two hundred literary journals including Gettysburg Review, Michigan Quarterly, Southwest Review, Threepenny Review and Virginia Quarterly Review. His prose has won the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the Dana Award, the Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction, the North American Review’s Kurt Vonnegut Prize, the Missouri Review’s Editor’s Prize, the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, the Briar Cliff Review’s Short Fiction Prize, the Salem College Center for Women Writers’ Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, the H. E. Francis Prize, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Award – on four occasions, an Elizabeth George Fellowship and a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Writers Grant. His stories have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008, 2013), Best American Nonrequired Reading (2007, 2008), and the Pushcart Prize Anthology (2005, 2006, 2011, 2014). In 2003, he was honored with Brown’s Undergraduate Council of Students Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003. He is currently on the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Links to buy Jacob’s book:
Only available in paperback.
Lake Forest Bookstore, IL
Norwich Bookstore, VT
Amazon

Jacob’s promo links:
Website

What are you working on now?
I’m trying to sell a novel about Civil War deniers. I’m also trying to win a date with Sophia Loren. If you can help with either of these challenges, please let me know ….

Jacob’s reading recommendation:
Dan Chaon’s novel, Await Your Reply

Felicity Harley

I “know” Felicity Harley through Bequia … although we’ve never actually met in person, we have this little island and several friends in common. Felicity very kindly read and reviewed my novel, Island in the Clouds, from the perspective of someone who knows the setting of Bequia very well, and she gave the book an excellent endorsement, for which I am grateful. I hope we may meet some day soon.

787Felicity Harley

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Portraits and Landscapes – a collection of short stories

Quick description: Portraits and Landscapes is an eclectic collection of short stories about all of us. The first stories in the collection are about failed romance and how many of us constantly and painfully search for connection in our lives. Other stories take us across the globe, and speak in a variety of voices, which give us brief glimpses of individuals who struggle to make sense of our world. The human beings described in these stories will make you laugh, weep and sometimes they’ll make you throw up your hands in utter disbelief.

A review written by Eliza Sherlock: The scope and interior quality in each of these stories, in differing ways, creates a compelling collection. There was not one I didn’t find interesting or that lost me along the way. Felicity Harley’s deep sympathy and insight into diverse human experience brings each one to life.

I found the first four stories in the collection quite different than the second half. The mysterious muted sense of hurt and inequity is beautifully rendered, the simplicity in the telling deceptive for each piece is deeply told. The characters seem to drift on currents they can’t resist, searching and restless and helpless in the grip of love. The language I found to be sensuous and luscious, the stories’ movement flowing easily and naturally. The descriptiveness combined with an interesting imprecision was fascinating, as were the scents, tastes, sounds and impressions introduced. I totally loved each and every one of them. Of them, I think I most enjoyed Love and Persia, The Art Dealer, and The Death of a Coat. Some really great knock you dead lines – “…some people kill you, it’s not their fault, and it’s not yours, but they kill you – and sometimes you kill them” and “a slow awakening to the old Persia she had read about, and it brought satiety to her hunger… ”

The second half They/Them/Us introduced another mood – more conscious and underpinned by moral concerns. I liked all of them once again. Some read like cautionary tales, narrated with a sense of imparting a message – none hit you over the head with the moral, intriguing journeys into other places and other lives, creating empathy for even the unsympathetic. Pon de Wall, Ben, The Wine of Life and In the Pursuit of Happiness stood out, Your Daughter Tasted Like Fish both beautiful in its love, and devastating in its conclusion. Some like The Survivalists, Divers and Floaters and First Ladies, full of interesting insights, make statements but are so interesting and unforced that they work. “She couldn’t help being a diver; it was what made her happy,” struck a responsive chord in me, as “the race they began together as equals, still greatly favored him,” also did.

A marvelous debut collection by this writer of ability and promise.

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Brief biography:
Felicity Harley is a polished public speaker, published journalist, writer and a poet. Felicity Harley has most recently published a collection of short stories called Portraits and Landscapes and her play Transplant was recently produced by Hartbeat Theatre. In 2013 her work was published in an anthology called Gathered Light – On the Poetry of Joni Mitchell, alongside writers such as Wally Lamb, Kim Addonizio, Fred Wah (Poet Laureate of Canada), Larry Klein, Susan Deer Cloud, Cornelius Eady, and others. In celebration of the 65th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on behalf of Poets for Human Rights, Felicity was the winner of the 2013 Anita McAndrews Award.

Links to buy Felicity’s book:
Purchase Portraits and Landscapes on Amazon – eBook and paperback

Felicity’s promo links:
Twitter
Medium.com
Facebook

What are you working on now?
Currently Felicity is editing two science fiction novels in a four part series she is writing under consultation with her agent, JoAnn Deck. She blogs regularly for Medium and for Plum Tree Books.

She is also writing a musical based on the story of a young Afghan Woman with a musician friend and in consultation with a number of Afghan writers and colleagues.

Felicity’s reading recommendation:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Sally G. Cronin

profile pictureSally G. Cronin

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Flights of Fancy – a collection of short stories.

Quick description: Ghosts, romance, friendship of all kinds and revenge form the basis of this collection of short stories. Ghosts hint at a chance of coming back to say goodbye, exact a little payback, or simply to help someone else carry on living. Romance is not just for the young and nor are second chances. As for revenge, well … Never underestimate a group of elderly ladies with contacts from the past.

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Brief biography:
I cannot remember when I did not have a pile of books that I was working my way through. I was a tomboy so opted for adventures on the high seas or dark continents. Then of course real life intruded in the form of 25 years in a number of industries before becoming a Nutritional Therapist in 1998. My thoughts turned to writing then in the form of articles for magazines and other media including on radio and television. My first book was published in 2001 and since then there have been seven other titles. Health, fiction and business. I have always written poetry and short stories and finally at the end of last year decided to put together a collection of the stories. Then there is my blog … That in itself is a wonderful adventure as part of a great community of writers and artists who share each others works.

Links to buy Sally’s book:
Publishing selling page
Amazon
Smashwords

Sally’s promo links:
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn

What are you working on now?
I have two in process – A People Management Programme (working title). We work in very technical environments but at the core of every successful business is effective people management. Staying at home (working title). A guide to a healthy and safe home environment as an alternative to choosing a care home as we age.

Sally’s reading recommendation:
Echoes of Narcissus in the Garden of Delights by Jo Robinson. Writer and Blogger. Book available on Amazon and Goodreads.

Tim Baker – update on a new book

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Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories featuring Ike available in print and eBook!
Amazon – eBook and print
Createspace – print

There are plenty of heroes in the world of crime-fiction, each with their own personality and style.

Ike has earned a seat at that table, but, being Ike, he prefers to find his own table…and let others sit with him.

A former US Navy SEAL, Ike’s current position as an enforcer for a local bookie often puts him in close contact with an element of society most of us fortunately never see. These encounters usually lead to trouble and Ike routinely inserts himself at the center of it all to make sure innocent people aren’t hurt. Ike has a tendency to…shall we say…bend some of the rules…and even break a few on occasion, but his moral compass is always strong and true.

It’s this very behavior that has readers of Tim Baker’s novels calling him “Robin Hood on a Harley” or “…an off-white knight in shining armor.”

Thirteen Stories.

One hero.

Path of a Bullet explodes from the barrel with the first tale about Ike’s encounter with a not-so-scrupulous Santa and follows a deadly trajectory until it hits a bull’s-eye with a Thanksgiving story that has Ike questioning his purpose in life.

Ike dispenses justice at a rapid-fire pace until the only danger in Flagler Beach is a traffic jam on A1A.

From the back cover …
Acclaimed author Seumas Gallacher has read it and had this to say …

“…for aficionados of clever, solid, pacy action writing, PATH OF A BULLET is for you… a compilation of great short stories dressed up as a loose calendar of events spins around Ike, an improbable, roustabout hero… ex-Seal, six-feet-five, 275 pounds of muscle, carefree by nature, but caring by inclination… a modern off-white Knight in shining armour, likes his beer, his liquor, and his ladies… most of whom seem to have need of the self-dispensing justice and skills that his past has endowed him with…

…Ike’s principal source of income comes from heavy duty collection work for a local bookmaker in Florida’s Flagler Beach and St. Augustine, and provides a baseline for the stories…

…Tim Baker’s ear for punchy narrative runs through this rapid-fire collection, in which a few hand-picked author pals have also contributed… Ike is an enduring character you can’t help but take to, although some of his methods will have you wincing…”

~Seumas Gallacher, Author of the Jack Calder crime series

From Tim Baker …
I was extremely flattered by that endorsement, and I’m fairly confident that Path of a Bullet will live up to Seumas’ praise.

This book was a year in the making. It contains 18 stories … but only 12 of them were written by me.

The other six were written by writer friends of mine.

For some of them it will be the first time their work has been published … making it a very special occasion indeed.

Over the past twelve months I had lots of fun writing my Ike vignettes, but I have to admit – it was just as fun working with the contributing authors too.

It was also very flattering that these writers thought enough of me and my work not only to become involved, but to write fan-fiction about my character. I can’t think of higher praise for a writer.

I’d like to share with you some of their thoughts about the experience…

Ann Marie Vancas

“This will be the first time I have ever been published. My writing has mostly remained hidden. It’s like having a crush you don’t want to reveal… But like love…once you know it’s right…you want to tell the world.”

Gi Arena

“I’d like to thank fellow author and friend, Tim Baker, for giving me the opportunity to write about his elusive character, Ike. I had the best time pairing Ike with my character, Ruby. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I loved writing it.”

Becky Pourchot

“I must say, I never thought I’d be in a compilation of Ike stories. Action stories were never my thing. That said, I liked the idea of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. In the end I had a lot of fun with it. Who knows, someday I might even write more stories featuring the tough guy, hero.”

Lockie Young

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Tim on this project. I tried to get behind the character of Ike, and figure out what he would want. I think I came up with just the down to earth guy to get Ike the goods he really wants.”

Becky Heishman

“I didn’t have to write a story for Tim Baker’s anthology. I’m a pretty fair writer with my own thing going on. But I believe in Tim Baker and his talent. I believe that his character, Ike, has the potential to become a cultural icon. So when the Tim Baker rocket ship is launched into the stratosphere, I want to be on board.”

Susan M. Toy

“Bequia Blues, a pure piece of Ike fan fiction that takes the man to my Caribbean home of Bequia, was written and submitted for inclusion in Path of a Bullet, because Tim Baker assured me I’d be able to go on a date with Ike as payment. That I’d stay on the boat with him, go for dinner and drinks at The Golden Lion, meet Brewski and Mr. Donebedian, and ride on the back of Ike’s Harley down A1A. That hasn’t happened yet and I’m beginning to think it never will. I’ve been hearing rumours lately that larger-than-life Ike is actually, and indeed, a fictional character! And that he may not exist AT ALL!!! WTF??? This all proves you just can’t trust novelists, because they all lie like a dog!”

Tim Baker has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations, as have Lockie Young, Becky Heishman, Seumas Gallacher (who wrote the promo blurb) and S.K. Nicholls (who provided the introduction). And I, Susan M. Toy, created Reading Recommendations!)

Gail Anderson-Dargatz Recommends Julie Paul

This is the second installment of a new feature on the Reading Recommendations blog, in which I ask established authors to recommend an author whose work has impressed them recently and who they would like to promote to my readers.

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Book title and author:
The Pull of the Moon by Julie Paul

What genre is it?
Literary short story collection

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Quick description:
Twelve short stories that examine what happens in the lives of characters who discover shocking truths about the people they thought they knew best.

– See more about Julie Paul and her book at: Brindle & Glass Publishing Ltd.

Why I recommend this book:
Julie is an emerging writer to watch. I expect we’ll see a lot more of her work in the future.

Links for people to buy it:
Brindle & Glass

Guest reviewer’s latest title or project:
Gail was previously featured on Reading Recommendations.