January-February 2022

Latest books from Montgomery County authors

Stories based on fantasy, friendship, faith and family

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Imagine a hotel at which guests can live out a fantasy—something they always wanted to do but maybe were too afraid to try or didn’t have the natural talent to accomplish. “You can go there and feel like you’re singing on a stage in front of thousands of people or skydiving,” Gaithersburg author Breeana Shields says of the storyline in her fifth young adult novel, The Splendor (Page Street Publishing, September 2021). The main character in the book sees how her sister changed after visiting the hotel and goes there to figure out what happened. “It’s a fantasy with a healthy dose of mystery,” says Shields, who enjoys the adventure and pace of writing for teens. “I love that time of life where all these possibilities are open, and life could go anywhere.”


For 25 years, Devora Zack has been teaching about the concept of people as “thinkers” and “feelers” in her work as a business consultant. She renames those terms “cactus” and “snowflake” in The Cactus and Snowflake at Work: How the Logical and Sensitive Can Thrive Side by Side (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, November 2021). Zack says the book can be useful in any kind of relationship. It includes questions for readers to discover their personality type, and strategies to pick up on subtle cues in others. “The foundation is understanding your own style and how to turn your perceived liabilities into your biggest strengths,” says the Potomac author. Instead of judging, Zack encourages people to recognize what matters to someone else and then calibrate how they communicate with that in mind.


While writing Revived & Renovated: Real Life Conversations on the Intersection of Home, Faith, and Everything in Between (End Game Press, November 2021), Kensington’s Paige Rien says she felt a deep kinship with her co-author, Victoria Duerstock, who lives in Mississippi. Both are interior designers and women of faith who see a crossover between their spiritual lives and decorating. “We know that these are two hot topics, but we want to put them together and invite women to have conversations about both,” Rien says. The chapters mix sections on self-care, faith and relationships with strategies for dealing with clutter and furniture. “The home is more than ‘what should I put on the walls?’ There’s just a deeper dimension or layer available to us,” Rien says.


Bethesda Magazine contributing writer Steve Roberts says gathering stories and writing Cokie: A Life Well Lived (Harper, November 2021) was his way of grieving the loss of his wife of 53 years, who died in 2019 of breast cancer. Although Cokie was well known as a journalist at ABC News and National Public Radio, the book provides a glimpse into her family life, Catholic faith and relationships with friends, who often described her as their moral touchstone. “Not everybody can be a famous TV star, but everybody can be a good person,” says Roberts, who teaches journalism and politics at George Washington University. “Everybody can learn something about that from her life and her private acts of goodness. She lived the Gospel every day.”