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Cold-weather reads

The cool early spring months are a great time to sit on the porch with a throw blanket, a hot beverage, and a satisfying book. Whether literary, romance, or paranormal is your bag, here are some recent titles to check out. Prefer nonfiction? We’ve got you covered there, too. And best of all, they’re written by local authors!


The Secret Poet

By Georgia Beers

Bold Strokes Books, 2021, paperback, $16.95

Morgan is an out lesbian and closeted poet who works for her doctor brother, Perry. When a new pharmaceutical rep stops into his office, they both find her gorgeous. The sibs assume she’s into guys, so Morgan woos her with words on Perry’s behalf. Except she is into women, and Morgan makes her move. Morgan’s first-person voice is casual, light, and conversational, which makes for a fun, quick read. There is not much tension in the plot, but the romance features a couple of steamy scenes. This is a feel-good story with nice family dynamics and a sweet ending.Beers is a lifelong Rochestarian whose first novel came out in 2000. Since then, this award-winning author has published around thirty lesbian romance novels, with two more to come out this year. When she isn’t writing or chilling with her dog, Beers enjoys theater, baking, wine, and romance. Find her online at vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America

By Michael Benson

Citadel Press, 2022, hardcover, $27.00

When people in America learned of Hitler’s rise in Europe, most were horrified by the Nazis and their antisemitism. But some embraced his efforts to gain America’s favor, which scared political officials across the US. They welcomed the physical resistance from Jewish gangsters who were determined to prove that they were tough and Nazism would not be tolerated in America.

In this book, the organized crime syndicate are clearly the “good guys,” and it is satisfying to see the Nazis get what’s coming to them. The stories set in each city are interesting, and the real life “characters” are well researched. High schoolers and adults interested in US history and the World War II era will enjoy this informative, entertaining book.Technically, Benson is no longer a Rochester local, but given that he was named a Wheatland-Chili High School Graduate of Excellence in 2016, the Brooklynite has earned his way into this article. Plus, many of his more than sixty books have regional ties. Readers may already know him as a (585) contributor who also enjoys sports, music, and true crime. He’s on Twitter at @Michael09030107.NotsomethingwediscussNot Something We Discuss Often: Essays

By Sarah Cedeño

Small Harbor Publishing, 2022, paperback, $12.00

When Sarah is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, her family brings in a healer. He and his stones don’t seem to work, so Sarah continues life with MS. She ponders her small size, her desire to acquire historic relics from her past, the dying tree on her lawn. But she also feels contentment with her home, her family, and her every precious day of life.These eight personal essays are perfectly brought together in this chapbook. They fit in theme, tone, and timeline from the author’s life. The gentle words ring of honesty about living with a chronic disease, and the reader knows despite any challenges, the author is clearly a beautiful writer with a lovable family, home, and career. This book is a gentle celebration of all the parts, both perfect and troublesome, that make a person whole.Cedeño grew up in Brockport, still resides there, teaches creative writing at SUNY Brockport, and embraces her “townie” status. Her writing spans the gamut from fiction and essays to poetry and nonfiction and has appeared in numerous literary journals. Cedeño lives in an old—and most likely haunted—Victorian house with her husband, two sons, and dog, where she enjoys delving into history. Learn more at Table Blues

By Peter Conners

Manic D Press, 2022, paperback, $16.95

Virgil abandons his MFA program when his troubled childhood friend Richard asks him to be a roadie for Laverna, his band’s, tour. Laverna life is full of the stereotypical sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, but there are also the Lavernites, the band’s zombie-like followers and their mysterious leader. Virgil doesn’t trust him and shouldn’t, as he soon learns.This literary indie band tour story is full of shoutouts to western New York. It has a dark, creepy vibe and rich writing that keeps the reader turning pages. The characters are what make the book full, and their antics will either convince people that band life is for them—or that it is something they should never pursue. Give this novel to anyone wanting to relive the 1990s Rochester music scene.Born and raised in Rochester, Conners is the executive director and publisher of BOA Editions, a local nonprofit literary publisher. He is also the author of a memoir, nonfiction about music and fringe culture, prose poetry collections, and a novella. Conners is a music festival and concert fan who plays guitar when not keeping up with his family, which includes humans, dogs, and a cat. Check out for more information.SuchsharpteethSuch Sharp Teeth

By Rachel Harrison

Berkley, 2022, hardcover, $27.00

Rory takes a leave of absence from her New York City job and carefree life to support her single and pregnant identical twin in their hometown. But after Rory hits what could only be a werewolf with her car—and then gets bitten—she knows something has changed inside her. Throw in a childhood trauma, an unapologetic mother, and a crush from her teenage years, and Rory isn’t sure which twin truly needs the most help.Throughout the story, Rory’s internalized anger from her abuse literally transforms itself into a wolf, giving this paranormal novel more weight. Her first-person narrative is full of sarcastic humor, and the snappy twin dialog is great. A near happily-ever-after with the love interest lightens up this dark tale, which older teens and adults will gobble up if they wish to taste this genre. Harrison lived in New York City before moving to Rochester at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the author of three horror novels and numerous creepy short stories, so it is unsurprising that she is a fan of Shirley Jackson, Carrie, and The Twilight Zone. She resides with her husband and attention-hog cat. Seek her out online at

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