Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder, and the Wild Women of Montana's Frontier
By Lael Morgan (Chicago Review Press, $24.95)
The blurb: Historian Lael Morgan, author of "Eskimo Star," chronicles the stories of the madams and prostitutes of Montana's boomtown days during the gold rush and the influence the state had on the nation's fight for women's rights.
Excerpt: "Dolores Jarra's first impression of Butte was that of most newcomers: she had made an enormous mistake! The buckboard trip over the steep Rocky Mountain passes from Helena to Butte had been a rough, but a wonderful, adventure. Her two young daughters -- Louisa, eight, and Minnie, just seven -- had loved the deep woods, splashing streams, and early wild roses that bordered the trail. But Butte ... the shock of seeing it for the first time frightened them all. It appeared suddenly as their team of horses strained over the Great Divide. Perched on the bleak hillside of a dark volcanic cone, it was a randomly organized mining camp of more than three thousand, almost as big as Helena, with a dozen or so gallows-like headframes that hauled workmen to and from the underground mines fringing the downtown."
By Mara Feeney (Gaby Press, $17.95)
The blurb: Set in 1970, the novel's story about a young British woman leaving home to work as a nurse and midwife in remote, arctic Canada is told through the character's diary entries and correspondences.
Excerpt: "I am doing better. Wayne invited me over for a glass of sherry on Sunday. I asked him lots of questions about his childhood spent on a farm in Saskatchewan. He showed me photos of his family and their property, acres of wheat fields tucked along a river. I thought it looked idyllic and said so. He said I should not be deceived -- it was a hard life, with farm chores to do every day, before and after school and on weekends. He and his brother slept in an uninsulated attic room that could get so cold in winter that sometimes he would wake up to find his blanket frozen to the wall from the moisture of his own breath. Perhaps that is why he doesn't mind winter here too much. He is used to it. I find April bad enough and cannot even imagine what it must be like in January. And the darkness is even harder to imagine that the cold."
Ask Mother Nature: A Conscious Gardener's Guide
By Ellen Vande Visse (Findhorn Press, $14.95)
The blurb: Combining spirituality with a gardening guide, the author invites you into her garden to encounter the maggots, cutworms, slugs and other "pests," introducing readers to the idea that you can make a deal with these pests by communicating with them rather than waging chemical warfare.
Excerpt: "I walk in a circle around the broccoli and cauliflower beds. Aloud, I ask for the turnip root maggots' attention. While I am at it, I include cutworms (caterpillars) -- just in case they become a problem to me too. I announce to the Devas of these two insects that they can only take the first plant in each row. Thank you very much!
"Every day, I hurry out to check progress. What is this? I find MORE victims of the root maggots. Furthermore, the dead and dying cole plants are conspicuously NOT the first ones in each row. I continue my daily body count, and I keep finding still more withered, sickly broccoli and cauliflower. By early June, rows and rows are looking desolate. Very few healthy plants still survive Aagh! This is an unacceptable level of damage."
-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News