Check out the latest releases from Amika Press.

My Name is Luke

A Novel

by Jim Ruddle

On a quiet day in 1858, two desperate men hijack  a schooner from the Marblehead, Massachusetts harbor. Trapped aboard his grandfather’s boat is fifteen-year-old Luke Constance. He is a normal kid who plays pranks on the townsfolk and has a crush on Agatha, his classmate. But Luke is not ordinary—very well versed himself, he reads aloud to workers in small, local shoemaking shops. And he knows more about sailing schooners than most seasoned seamen. Told by Luke with wry humor and a teenager’s sense of fun, this extraordinary adventure confronts the sea’s wrath and men’s foibles and the violent rage of both. In the end, Luke needs every bit of his wit, learning, and resourcefulness to survive.

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Monster City

A Hardboiled Horror Mystery

by John Cowlin

Life ain’t easy for a regular guy in this town.

Just ask Vic Brahm, workaday investigator in a city of monsters. Vic’s new client? A three-thousand-year-old Egyptian who suspects his wife is messing around with a manwolf. Vic’s neighbor? A beautiful dame being stalked by some thing with claws. Vic’s partner Shelley? Murdered, with no suspects or leads. And the vampire syndicate? Breathing down Vic’s neck because who knows why.

Zombies. Voodoo priests. Inbred cannibal hillbillies from The Village. It’s all in a night’s work for Vic Brahm, P.I.

Welcome To San Monstruo…Where Raymond Chandler meets Boris Karloff.

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52 Poems for Men

compiled by Jay Amberg

Every poem in this collection speaks directly to men, capturing powerful moments, deep insights, and honest glimpses of life. The themes are universal: birth, death, love, loss, war, beauty, and family. Both classic and contemporary poetic masters are represented, including William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Pinsky, Langston Hughes, and Dylan Thomas. Each poet speaks to men in a voice and language they trust and understand, without using contrived poetic forms, avant-garde imagery, or esoteric references. This anthology will leave no reader unmoved.

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The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

A Novel

by Ruth Hull Chatlien

As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will transport her to cultured Europe. When she falls in love with and marries Jerome Bonaparte, she believes her dream has come true—until Jerome’s older brother Napoleon becomes an implacable enemy.

Based on a true story, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is a historical novel that portrays this woman’s tumultuous life. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, known to history as Betsy Bonaparte, scandalized Washington with her daring French fashions; visited Niagara Falls when it was an unsettled wilderness; survived a shipwreck and run-ins with British and French warships; dined with presidents and danced with dukes; and lived through the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Yet through it all, Betsy never lost sight of her primary goal—to win recognition of her marriage. 

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America’s Fool

Las Vegas & The End of the World

by Jay Amberg

The most lethal poison ever concocted is about to be loosed on Las Vegas. TV reporter Andrew Wright is the only one who can stop the apocalypse. Confronted by madness on all sides, he stumbles into a conspiracy of racial, religious and military fanatics. His only allies are a beautiful Iranian doctor and a mysterious desert wanderer. But who can he really trust? While lunatics on the fringes receive so much media attention, Wright must resist the spotlight and somehow do the right thing. He must make the decisions that truly patriotic Americans now face.

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Campaign!

The 1983 Election that Rocked Chicago

by Peter Nolan

In Campaign!, veteran newsman Peter Nolan, who covered all the players in the 1983 contest, has written a first-hand account of not only the key participants, the candidates and their top supporters, but also of relatively unknown election workers who invested their time and passions in a way not seen since in Chicago politics.

Nolan does not shy from inserting himself into the story where it warrants. His tale of being recruited by Epton as potential City Hall press secretary is only one of the anecdotes that reflects on how unusual the campaign seemed…This is a book that every Chicago politician ought to keep under his pillow…There is never enough history, and this is a nice slice of it. From the Foreword by F. Richard Ciccone, former Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune

Part of The Special Collections and Preservation Division at the Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library
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Chicago Sketches

by Richard Reeder, illustrations by Leonid Osseny

In Chicago Sketches, we visit places as diverse as Maxwell Street, Riverview, Wrigley Field, the old Clark Theater, and the National Bohemian Cemetery. We meet the famous—Nelson Algren and Yevgeny Yevtushenko—and the other people who have touched Reeder’s life—Bubbie Gussie, Rabbi Mendel, and the Big Klu. We also witness moments in Reeder’s life that echo through history—November 4, 1960 and November 22, 1963. Leonid Osseny’s vivid illustrations make all these Chicago sketches come even more alive.

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Cycle

by Jay Amberg

Redwoods thrive for centuries in the coastal regions of America’s Pacific Northwest. A monarch butterfly takes the amazing journey from the Northern meadow of its birth to its winter roost in the mountains of Central Mexico. The mother of four wolf pups leads her family through the Arctic’s stark terrain and bitter storms. One of the greatest seagoing mammals roams the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of Alaska to the Galapagos. All of these voices speak to us of the meaning we seek in our lives.

Winner of a 2013 Independent Publisher Living Now Book Award
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Dialogues of a Crime

A Novel

by John K. Manos

1972. The Chicago Mob stands unchallenged, and college students with drugs provide fodder for political point-making. Michael Pollitz, a nineteen-year-old with connections to the Outfit, becomes one of those political pawns.

1994. Job-weary CPD Detective Larry Klinger becomes obsessed with a cold case from that pivotal moment twenty-two years ago. In the course of his investigation, he encounters questions of ethics, guilt, and justice that make him doubt certainties that have sustained him for decades.

Dialogues of a Crime examines guilt, innocence and the long-term ramifications of crime and punishment in a gray area where the personal lives of perpetrators, victims and law officers overlap.

Named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013
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Forest High

Short Stories

by Bob Boone

In a time when the importance of teachers has been unfairly challenged, Bob Boone gives us a collection of simply told, hard-edged tales from the lives of educators and their students. These rich, multifaceted stories ring true with details gleaned over the course of a full life. Reading them, one feels as if they are entering another version of our familiar reality, where secrets thrive in quiet classrooms and a passionate love of the pitfalls and victories of teaching motivates the creation of narrative. Lisa Locascio, University of Southern California, Recipient of the 2011 John Steinbeck Award for Fiction

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Peace Breathing

Lessons on Achieving Peace in Everyday Life

by Charles H.C. Kim

Through Peace Breathing you discover what you’re capable of—something beautiful.

Originally given by Charles H.C. Kim at The Peace School, this book’s 31 talks offer practical yet profound insight into becoming a person of peace amid the challenges we face in today’s world. Peace Breathing combines the vital energy of breath with the powerful energy of thought to calm your mind, reduce stress, and open your heart to your true self. Kim draws on more than 45 years of meditation practice & uses vivid stories and examples from nature and everyday life to show how we can bring peace to ourselves and the world.

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Ryan’s Woods

A South Side Boyhood Fifty Years Ago

by Patrick Creevy

The year is 1962. The family of fourteen-year-old Kevin Collins, caught in white flight, has moved from Beverly, its South Side of Chicago neighborhood, to the city’s northern suburbs. The field of Kevin’s most formative boyhood adventures was Ryan’s Woods, the great South Side forest preserve, mysterious, beautiful, running along the city’s western edge a full mile from 83rd Street to 91st. It now serves as the frame for his memories. Memories of a villain enemy, of games hard-fought as wars, of moments of fear or courage, of moments that transcend racial division, and of first love in all the pure strength of its innocence. Memories, still fresh, of best friendships that Kevin now feels will be forever unrecoverable. And memories especially of his greatest friend, Jackie Leonard, whose death at age thirteen has moved Kevin to turn memory into story.

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Whale Song

by Jay Amberg

Each of our lives is a voyage of discovery. In Whale Song, we hear the voice of a fellow traveler, an albino sperm whale. We hear of life in his words—the joys of family, the pain of loss, the confusion and frustrations of a changing environment—familiar aspects of life even in the ocean. His observations and insights give us much to consider. If we listen, we may better understand how we affect the global society, and what we now need to do.

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The Wreck of the Columbia

A Broken Boat, a Town’s Sorrow & the End of the Steamboat Era on the Illinois River

by Ken Zurski

On the night of July 5, 1918, a steamboat named Columbia, returning from a moonlight excursion, collapsed and sank in the middle of the Illinois River. Of the nearly 500 passengers on board that night, most were from the town of Pekin. Eighty-seven people lost their lives in the disaster. The rest were left to tell their stories of fortitude and survival.

The worst maritime accident in the history of the Illinois River, the wreck of the Columbia is a mostly forgotten tragedy today. Ken Zurski’s gripping account follows the compelling true story from the moment the captain sensed a problem, to the horror of the cries and screams in the night, to the courageous actions of the rescue and recovery workers, and ultimately to the pursuit by law enforcement officials to find truth and justice.

One town in particular found itself reeling from a sudden and devastating loss of life, an immense communal grief, and a frustrating search for answers that never truly came.

Part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library research collection, Springfield
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Write Through Chicago

Learn About a City by Writing About a City

by Mark Henry Larson & Bob Boone

Write Through Chicago offers both teachers and students a unique opportunity to connect with Chicago and its remarkable history. Young writers will mourn at Lincoln’s Chicago Funeral, marvel at the Columbian Exposition, gather with the crowd at the Haymarket Riot, drive to Riverview Amusement Park, chomp down on the first McDonald’s Burger, and celebrate at Grant Park as Barack Obama delivers his presidential acceptance speech. They’ll craft a wide range of written forms, from stories and poems to polemics, monologues, diaries, letters and more. All Write Through Chicago writing activities align to NCTE & Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and are supported by a website that provides students with ready access to specifically selected research materials. This unique design leaves teachers free to concentrate on helping students truly “learn about a city by writing about a city.”

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Further reading from associates of Amika Press.

Girl in the Mirror

Three Generations of Black Women in Motion

by Natasha Tarpley

Some say our story begins in the middle of an ocean, in the belly of a monster, at the mercy of demons. Others say that we began with a hammer and a nail; that we laid our bodies down and raised cities along our spines. But I say it goes deeper than that, deeper than cotton fields and human cargoes, the thick and heavy links of a history we’re constantly trying to break, to desire. The urge that stirs you in the middle of the night, grabs you by the spine and jerks your head upright. The story begins here, when we realize that we are no longer asleep, and the beat of our hearts sounds just like the beat of a faraway drum. And it is at this moment of unrest, when our hearts refuse to allow us to he still, that we realize what we must do, which is to gather ourselves up & move.

Girl in the Mirror is the story of the lives, loves and migrations of three generations of African-American women: a grandmother, mother and daughter—on a journey in search of self.

Notes of Valor

by Bryan Meeker

In the relative calm before World War II, a young musician finds love and fulfillment. He is wounded by the war in every sense, and his long recovery is dealt a devastating blow, leaving him a broken man aged beyond his years. His despair is only abated by a chance event, one that reacquaints him with an old love, and leads him to find redemption through the greatest of humanity’s creations—music.

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& GoodReads.

My Name is Luke warming hearts at Kirkus13 Aug 14

Jim Ruddle on WGN 720’s After Hours with Rick Kogan17 July 14

Amika friend Bob Glassman featured on The Best American Poetry2 July 14