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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 12 December 2015 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Taylor's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

Kill the Silence: A Survivor's Life Reclaimed
Monika Korra
Harmony Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780804139625 $25.00 hc / $12.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In 2009, college sophomore and track star Monika Korra was grabbed by three men on her way home from a party and brutally raped. Within hours of being released, Monika resolved that she would not be a victim – she was going to be a survivor.

Stripped of her sense of security, she slowly rebuilds her life with the help of her friends, family, and her own unflappable spirit. Monika shares the inspiring combination of mental and physical work that gave her the strength to win her greatest fight yet: the court case against the three men who had attacked her. She testifies against them with confidence and a fierce determination that these men would never be able to hurt anyone else, securing a life sentence. Two of them received life, one with parole and one without parole for the worst of the three.

A large percentage of sexual assaults – upwards of 80% for female college students, like Monika was – go unreported, and 15 of every 16 rapists go free. By sharing her story, Monika hopes to inspire others to come forward and tell their own stories without shame or fear. Kill the Silence is about one woman's journey to recover from trauma and a call to arms to break the stigma that surrounds violence against women.

Critique: Kill the Silence is not just about one women's quest for justice. Author Monika Korra speaks openly with a powerful and resounding message: by engaging in the legal justice system, survivors can work to protect others from the depredations of remorseless criminals. Friends, family, and support networks can aid survivors in this vital endeavor to pursue a just and free society. Noble and uplifting, Kill the Silence is worthy of the highest recommendation, especially for public library collections.

National Geographic Treasury of Norse Mythology
Donna Jo Napoli, author
Christina Balit, illustrator
National Geographic Children's Books
c/o National Geographic Press
1145 17th Street N.W., Washington, DC, 20036-4688
9781426320989, $24.99, 192pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of author Donna Jo Napoli and artist Christina Balit, "National Geographic Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge" is comprised of classic stories and dazzling illustrations of gods, goddesses, heroes and monsters come to life in a stunning tableau of Norse myths, including those of the thunder god Thor, the one-eyed god and Allfather Odin, and the trickster god Loki. The lyrical storytelling of award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli dramatizes the timeless tales of ancient Scandinavia.

Critique: Specifically designed and deftly written for young readers age 8 to 12, "National Geographic Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge" will prove to be a high demand addition to school and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that the "Treasury of Norse Mythology" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.35). It should also be noted that "National Geographic Treasury of Norse Mythology" is the third in the trilogy that includes the popular and highly recommended "National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology" (9781426308444, $24.95 HC, $11.99 Kindle) and "National Geographic Treasury of Egyptian Mythology" (9781426313806, $24.95 HC, $12.99 Kindle).

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry
J. Patrick Lewis
National Geographic Children's Books
c/o National Geographic Press
1145 17th Street N.W., Washington, DC, 20036-4688
9781426320941, $24.99, 192pp,

Synopsis: When words in verse are paired with the visual images of the awesomeness of nature, something magical happens! In "National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!", former U.S. Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis curates an exuberant poetic celebration of the natural world in a truly stellar collection of nature poems. From trickling streams to deafening thunderstorms to soaring mountains, young readers ages 4 to 8 will discover majestic photography perfectly paired with contemporary (such as Billy Collins), classics (such as Robert Frost), as well as numerous never-before-published works.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and fun read from first page to last, and colorfully illustrated throughout, the "National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to family, school, and community library collections for preschool through fourth grade children.

Dillie the Deer
Melanie R. Butera, DVM
Regan Arts
A Phaidon Global Company
65 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012
9781942872108 $24.95 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the summer of 2004, veterinarian, Melanie Butera, received an unexpected patient: a three-day-old, blind, dying fawn she called Dillie. Melanie doubted the deer would survive, but with the help of her husband Steve she miraculously nursed Dillie back to health. The tenacious deer quickly became a member of the family running around the house with the dog, the cat, and the people; and enjoying all of the perks including her own bedroom, plates of her favorite linguini, and swims in the family's pool. Mischievous and funny, Dillie opens cabinets, learns to climb stairs, turns the lights on and off, steals food, and showers her family with affection. Melanie and Steve gave Dillie a chance at life, and in return she has enriched theirs beyond measure. And when Melanie is diagnosed with cancer, the veterinarian who saved the life of a fawn is herself saved by the unconditional love of Dillie the deer.

Critique: An heartwarming, true-life story about the healing and inspiring bond between humans and animals, Dillie the Deer: A True Story of Love, Healing, and Family is a joy to read. Filled with mischievous and delightful anecdotes from cover to cover, Dillie the Deer also makes a wonderful giftbook for animal lovers everywhere. It's worth noting that Dillie's everyday adventures continue in "Dillie Cam", a 24/7 live streaming camera where fans can watch Dillie in her room!

Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife
Susan Signe Morrison
Top Hat Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785350092, $16.95, 237pp,

Synopsis: Brimhild weaves peace and conveys culture to the kingdom, until the secret of her birth threatens to tear apart the fragile political stability. "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is her story – the nordic tale of Grendel's Mother. She is no monster as portrayed in the Old English epic, Beowulf. We learn her side of the story and that of her defamed child. We see the many passages of her life: the brine-baby who floated mysteriously to shore; the hall-queen presiding over the triumphant building of the golden hall Heorot and victim of sexual and political betrayal; the exiled mere-wife, who ekes out a marginal life by an uncanny bog as a healer and contends with the menacing Beowulf; and the seer, who prophesizes what will occur to her adopted people. We learn how the invasion by brutal men is not a fairy tale, but a disaster doomed to cycle relentlessly through human history. Only the surviving women can sing poignant laments, preserve a glittering culture, and provide hope for the future.

Critique: Susan Signe Morrison is a Professor of English at Texas State University and writes on topics lurking in the margins of history, ranging from recently uncovered diaries of a teenaged girl in World War II to medieval women pilgrims, excrement in the Middle Ages, and waste. An absolutely fascinating read from beginning to end, "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is her very best work to date and is a deftly crafted novel that it is as entertaining and it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A unique and impressively written work of extraordinary literary merit, "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is enthusiastically recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.19).

Just Show Up
Kara Tippetts & Jill Lynn Buteyn
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434709530, $15.99, 192pp,

Synopsis: Kara Tippetts's story was not a story of disease, although she lost her battle with terminal cancer. It was not a story of saying goodbye, although she was intentional in her time with her husband and four children. Kara's story was one of seeing God in the hard and in the good. It was one of finding grace in the everyday. And it was one of knowing "God with us" through fierce and beautiful friendship. In "Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together", Kara and her close friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, write about what friendship looks like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry, and even cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, "Just Show Up" is an eloquent and practical book that explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together" is very highly recommended for community library collections and the personal reading lists of anyone going through tough times -- or is friends with someone else who is. An absolutely terrific read, it should be noted that "Just Show Up" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.59) and as an unabridged audio book CD (9781633895416, $15.98).

Let's Talk
Rhea Paul & Donia Fahim
Brookes Publishing Company
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
9781598571202, $29.95, 216pp,

Synopsis: Communication is often a parent's number-one concern when a young child is diagnosed with autism. With so many interventions available, how can families be sure they're choosing the best option for their child? "Let's Talk: Navigating Communication Services and Supports for Your Young Child with Autism" is an accessible, straightforward book that gives parents the practical knowledge that they need to evaluate communication therapies and treatments, thereby making sound decisions rooted in evidence-based practice. A practical resource from trusted experts on autism and communication, "Let's Talk" covers everything from autism fundamentals to the specifics of developing an individualized treatment plan for children birth to five. "Let's Talk" will significantly help the parents of an autistic child to arm themselves with essential knowledge about autism and how it's diagnosed; understand the range of social communication behaviors they might see in their child; learn the how and why of developmental assessments; choose evidence-based treatments and interventions that address their child's specific; communication needs; support their child's development of key skills, such as motor imitation, joint attention, play, and spontaneous communication; make the most of available educational services, including IEPs and IFSPs; partner effectively with SLPs, OTs, special educators, and para-professionals; and navigate the complex emotions associated with a child's autism diagnosis.

Critique: The collaborative work of autism experts Rhea Paul (Professor and Founding Director of the Speech-Language pathology graduate program at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut) and Donia Fahim (Senior consultant for the ASD Nest Project at Steinhardt School of Culture4, Education, and Human Development, New York University), "Let's Talk: Navigating Communication Services and Supports for Your Young Child with Autism" is enhanced with the inclusion of a sample Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) Form; a Setting Events-Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence Chart (SABC); helpful glossaries of educational terms and evidence-based practice terms; and a sample Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Impressively well written, deftly organized and presented, "Let's Talk" is ideal for ordinary parents seeking to do what is best and most helpful with respect to an autistic child. "Let's Talk" is very highly recommended for family, professional, community, and academic library 'Children with Special Needs' and Family Relationship reference collections in general, and Autism supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Wide Open
Gracie X
New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781626250581, $16.95, 328pp,

Synopsis: Gracie X is a suburban mother of two who has been married to her loving husband, Hank, for 25 years. The problem is that their once vibrant sex life has shriveled to nothing. Meanwhile, she has fallen in love with another man, for whom she has an overwhelming physical yearning. Frustrated and conflicted but determined not to give up her hard-won home life and wonderful husband, she is desperate for a creative solution. Can she somehow keep both men in her life without resorting to divorce or dishonesty? A friend introduces Gracie to polyamory: loving and being faithful to more than one person at a time. "Poly," it turns out, is a whole new world, with dedicated counselors, parties, and dating sites. Convincing Hank ended up being the easy part: he quickly found a girlfriend and accepted Gracie's terms. Their children, although upset at first, adjusted to having their parents' "special friends" around, and having Hank and his girlfriend in one duplex, with Gracie and her new boyfriend, Oz, next-door, seemed like an inspired solution. But would trying to go poly create as many problems as it was trying to solve? In her candid and provocative memoir, "Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms", Gracie details the years she has spent exploring the poly lifestyle and creating her "chosen family." A fiercely intelligent feminist, she challenges traditional ideas about monogamy, fidelity, and sexuality. From swinger parties and strip clubs to sex toys and pornography, this is an edgy and thought-provoking read. Yet erotica and tenderness share space here, with Gracie's true love for both Hank and Oz (as well as her two children) coming through very clearly. "Wide Open" reveals with humor, integrity and heart how one woman blended love, sex and marriage in unconventional ways and found the fulfillment she was looking for.

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally candid, remarkably well organized and presented, "Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms" is a riveting read from beginning to end. A unique and inherently fascinating memoir, "Wide Open" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. Commended to the attention of mature readers, it should be noted that "Wide Open" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Ignoble Displacement
Stephanie Polsky
Zero Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781782798804, $29.95, 321pp,

Synopsis: We live in a time of great social, political and economic crisis that many date to the collapse of the global banking system in 2008. Many are finding it difficult to contextualise the hardships that have taken place in the years following on from those events. It is difficult to find the answers in our present media landscape, or in a political and intellectual climate that continues to laud capitalism as the winning economic system coming out of both World War II and the end of the Cold War, which has become over the last century synonymous with democracy itself. The irony is that in our times the majority of the world's people feel disenfranchised by both capitalism and democracy. How did we come to this historical juncture? What can we learn not just from history, but from our cultural artifacts that might tell us how we first came to conduct ourselves within a system of global finance capitalism? In "Ignoble Displacement: Dispossessed Capital in Neo-Dickensian London", author, and interdisciplinary writer/academic Stephanie Polsky proposes that we reinterpret the writings of Charles Dickens to find the antecedents of our present situation with regards to capital, empire and subjectivity.

Critique: "Ignoble Displacement: Dispossessed Capital in Neo-Dickensian London" is comprised of four major thematic essays and an Epilogue. The result is an unique study that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An inherently absorbing read from beginning to end, "Ignoble Displacement" is especially recommended for both community and economic library Economics Studies collections. For students and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in a Dickensian perspective on contemporary economic issues, it should be noted that "Ignoble Displacement" is available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

Anything For You
Kristan Higgins
HQN Books
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373789757, $26.99, 368pp,

Synopsis: For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard -- so it's the perfect time to get married. But when he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of being a waitress. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her. But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks...

Critique: Another terrific read from Kristan Higgins who is a master of the romance genre, "Anything For You" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary Romance collections. It should be noted that "Anything For You" is also available in a paperback edition (9780373789085, $7.99) and in a Kindle format ($5.99).

St. Benedict's Guide to Improving Your Work Life
Michael Rock
Twenty-Third Publications
1 Montauk Ave #200, New London, CT 06320
9781627851213, $14.95, 128pp,

Synopsis: "St. Benedict's Guide to Improving Your Work Life: Workplace as Worthspace" by Michael Rock (a professor and consultant in human relations, organizational behavior, business ethics and emotional intelligence studies for over 35 years) has its origins in a seven-year study of the problem of workplace disengagement in light of contemporary understandings of emotional intelligence and spirituality. With the wisdom of The Rule of St. Benedict, Professor Rock shows us how to transform a lifeless and mundane job into a meaningful vocation. "St. Benedict's Guide to Improving Your Work Life" is a small book that is comprised of insights drawn from Professor Rock's teaching, counseling experiences and personal life journey.

Critique: Impressively well written and exceptionally well organized, "St. Benedict's Guide to Improving Your Work Life: Workplace as Worthspace" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, and composition. Very highly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library collections, as well as the personal reading lists for anyone seeking to improve and enhance the quality and the spiritually fulfilling aspects of how the make their living.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Big Jim
David Lucero
The Light Network
9780996640381 $14.99

"Big Jim" Peck is a professional game hunter in Africa whose live has evolved from wartime encounters to hunting animals; but when a client is killed in a hunting expedition gone awry, he's forced to hang up his guns and retreat to his African plantation in the face of an ongoing investigation.

All this could have provided the 'meat' for the story; but the fact that it's actually the prologue for events to come places Big Jim in the category of a novel with much more to offer than the singular story of a safari-type business gone awry, when an American journalist seeking a story of the big game hunting experience entices Big Jim to return to the bush.

From the dangers of a rogue Cape buffalo (whom villagers believe to be infused with an evil spirit) to Mary's awakening not just about the methods of game hunting, but the politics of game management and encounters in Africa, Big Jim is replete with undercurrents of social change, wildlife management, and hunting politics and is thus a recommendation for readers who want more than a singular action novel.

The ideal reader of Big Jim will be one who wants a setting steeped in African history and politics, who will appreciate a hunter's perspective as well as insights on wildlife management processes and challenges, and who desires all this couched not in your usual nonfiction format; but in a novel replete with insights on relationships and motivations.

The 'you-are-there' action captures attention ("The first slug struck the cat in the side of the head, blowing out its left eye. The second slug entered the animal's ear and blew open its fleshy, heavily-maned top of the head where its skull would be if the lion had a skull to mention. The simba roared and collapsed its full weight on Big Jim and clamped shut its jaws. Big Jim cried in pain as the sharp teeth dug into his forearm."), but it's the interplay between reporter Mary, hunting company owner Big Jim and his partner, and the wider questions of African issues, that capture attention and pose a host of unexpected insights into the process of exposing Africa's special world and all its nuances: ""Don't lie to me," he snapped back. "I understand your profession and reason for asking questions. But this is no simple story. People have already been killed by whatever is out there, and if we don't stop it more people will die." Mary was startled. She had not expected her handsome adventurer to turn on her so suddenly. "I only wish to make certain I write the facts as they are," she said, in a rather limp tone."

The extraordinary is evident not only in the near-supernatural abilities of the dreaded Cape buffalo, but in the prowess of Big Jim, the tenacity of Mary, and in the thoughts and motivations of all who surround them, presenting a delightfully involving African saga for readers which explores so much more than the thrill of the hunt alone.

Adao's Dance: A Search For Meaning And Peace
Russ Masterson
Jig House, Publisher
Prepublication Manuscript

He was sixteen, and dreaming a prophetic dream about a journey, an encounter with a holy man, and words that would change his life: that's the opening of Adao's Dance: A Search For Meaning And Peace. The enchanting story takes a different approach than most and roots its spiritual investigation in a young man's soul, which visits a place of lessons where a man may know his past, but doesn't judge it.

Adao then embarks on a quest, charged with 'slaying the dragon'; it unfolds that Adao lives in an isolated village bound by its myths and legends, and that his proposed journey thus breaks physical as well as psychological and spiritual boundaries.

Raised without spiritual focus, Adao is rootless ("Father and Mother had taught me nothing of the unseen, as many of the people in the prairie considered such heavenly thoughts to be primitive, a crutch until a more advanced understanding of humanity and the physical world developed. My only exposure to the ancient beliefs that spoke of the unseen came by history class at school and hearsay around the village from time to time.") and believes he will not be missed at home: the perfect formula for undertaking a spiritual quest with an open heart, inquiring mind, and nothing to hold him back.

His encounters with leaders and philosophers make for an engrossing set of insights that ultimately add to his individual pursuit of enlightenment ("The grand leader went on to speak about a variety of issues and philosophies. His certainty and passion were electrifying to me.), a process which takes each bit of passion and wisdom and joins them into something ultimately greater than their parts.

Will he return a hero because of the beast he's conquered in inner and outer worlds? Will friendship and love enhance or detract from his journey? How does a 'spiritual guide' work, and what happens when death enters the bigger picture?

As Adao faces love, sacrifice, and the dangers of the Dragon's voice, he also faces choices, consequences, and change as he leaves everything of comfort to follow an elusive voice in the wind. This spiritual quest will appeal to a wide audience; but is especially recommended for readers of spiritual fiction and stories written by Carlos Castenada and the like.

It takes a willing heart to embark on a journey far from the familiar, and to fully appreciate the depth and perceptions of Adao as he follows both his heart and an unusual invitation will require a reader who finds spiritual questions and quests stimulating. Spiritually curious readers, especially, will find Adao's Dance a powerful, accessible, and compelling read.

The Collapse and Recovery of Europe, AD 476–1648
Jack L. Schwartzwald
McFarland & Co., Inc., Publishers
Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640
Print ISBN: 9781476662305 $39.95
Ebook ISBN: 9781476622576 $TBA

The collapse of the Western Roman Empire led to over a thousand years of chaos and re-creation before a new system would evolve to lead Europe back into the realm of organized civilization, and researcher Jack L. Schwartzwald's The Collapse and Recovery of Europe, AD 476–1648 is key to understanding this process and time period.

This volume is a companion to his introductory The Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome: A Brief History, which concluded with the fall of the Roman Empire: familiarity with the prior history is recommended for a smooth continuation of the saga in this title, which details the history of Byzantium (the successor state to the Eastern Roman Empire), the struggles of Western Europe in the absence of Roman rule, and the evolution of the nation-state from the ashes of the old empire.

One might think such coverage would be weighty and limited to graduate-level history students alone, but Schwartzwald has taken care to tailor these events for readers who may not necessarily hold college-level backgrounds in Western European history, and that makes it a recommendation for general history readers, as well.

It's important to note that tone and approach have a lot to do with this access: descriptions are heavily footnoted, but are also packed with lively language: "The wholesale slaughter of defenseless Jews proved such a confidence-builder that on experiencing the unfamiliar babbling of the Hungarian Magyars a bit further down the road, Count Emico's crusaders did not hesitate to issue their battle cry anew. But peculiar language or no, the Hungarians were already Catholic. They had renounced shamanism under duress during the reign of their saint-king, Stephen I, on New Year's Day 1001. Truth be told, the conversion had not gone well."

As Schwartzwald describes events, individuals, and social and political struggles, the result is a captivating survey that draws even general readers into the drama and controversies of the times: "The slightest indiscretion might land one before the "consistory," a body of clerics and town elders empowered to pass judgment in morality cases. Such vigilance seems hard to justify for men who believed that an individual's salvation or damnation was predetermined by God; but the reality in Geneva was that man's fate was determined by a far harsher judge: the great and powerful Calvin."

It's no mean feat to produce a read equally accessible by scholars and lay readers; no light accomplishment to heavily footnote a researched piece but keep the language inviting enough to draw in and immerse even readers with little prior familiarity with European history. That Schwartzwald accomplishes all this in a manner designed to successfully satisfy both disparate audiences is testimony to an achievement that offers the rare opportunity to appear in both college-level history collections and general lending libraries alike.

The Collapse and Recovery of Europe, AD 476–1648 may sound like a weighty, imposing read, but its ability to pair facts with descriptions that are involving and engrossing set it apart from many other accounts and make it an outstanding recommendation and accomplishment, indeed.

A Ladder of Panties
Sandeep Jayaram
CinnamonTeal Publishing
Prepublication Manuscript

First of all: the name. A Ladder of Panties provides an unexpected image, to say the least - and invites curiosity as to its subject. If you've guessed this will present a blend of sensual description and possibly a dose of romance, you'd be only partially correct: A Ladder of Panties is so much more, and offers two disparate protagonists whose lives came together, part, and meet once again.

What happens to love when it's settled into other relationships for years? Inky and Sri are about to find out, and the process of discovering anew what has evolved in their separate lives is just one of the attractions in A Ladder of Panties.

Yes, it's sensual: so if a healthy dose of sexual description isn't desired, look elsewhere. Yes, it's romance - but the kind of romance that stems from long-term associations and new discoveries; not the fiery storm of first encounters - so if it's a barrage of nonstop passion that's desired, that's also not what A Ladder of Panties is all about.

As chapters unwind and protagonists reveal their lives, quirks, and eccentricities (both sexually and emotionally), readers are drawn by both ebbs and flows in the relationship and Jayaram's attention to description, which holds some unexpected, refreshingly different images packed into as little as single line: "Seeing his blank eyes, all nine yards of Malaika's whine wrap around."

All this is steeped in the tea of Indian culture, deliciously refined and presented in sexual and emotional observations that take the written word and create a palace of impressionistic art with each scene: "People dressed up as what they were not. Film actors, pop stars, historical characters, tribesmen and fairy tale folk. People, who could not, nay, would not be themselves. These were people one could break the conversational roti with. Have a drink with. Dance with...And not fall in love with. That felonious emotion had been trapped and imprisoned in a white plastic bag."

What is the ladder? What's in the white bag? How deep does one have to dig to arrive at one's most precious goals? Ambiguities, connections, and change: all this is wrapped into a story line that is ultimately compelling and revealing of not just sensuality and romance (that's its facade), but the intricacies of Indian culture and the wellsprings of human failures and successes.

Notes From a Very Small Island
Anthony Stancomb
Thistle Publishing
9781910670453 $14.99

Anthony Stancomb and his wife are living in London and leading successful lives when an opportunity to move to the sunny isle of Croatia (an event previously explored in Under the Croatian Sun) arises. Their move presented many cultural encounters and challenges; and these encounters continue in Notes from a Very Small Island, which details their ongoing adjustments to Croatian culture.

One might think from such an outline and plot that events would be somewhat predictable in general scope - couple moves, faces cultural shock, and makes changes that lead to better adjustments and lives - but there's more going here on than personal relationships.

The story cultivates a refreshing immediacy by using an astute eye to closely examine what it means to fit into (or not) a very different world: "By now it seemed as if we had been accepted by maybe half of the 2500 souls living on the island, but it had been a struggle, and we were still left with the other half to win over. I had assumed that fitting into the local community would be relatively easy, given that Ivana was Croatian by birth, but I'd been wrong. Ivana's parents might have both been Croatian and had taught her the language, but that wasn't enough for most of the islanders."

The process of these observations betrays a wry sense of humour and not a little angst as it pinpoints just why it's hard to make connections in a small community: "I suppose it was rather Anglo-Saxon of me to have thought that smiling faces would welcome us as the first outsiders to come and live on the island for two generations. Nonetheless, I did think that our arrival might at least have generated a modicum of enthusiasm, seeing that we had turned our backs on the evils of capitalism, consumerism and credit card debt to espouse their ancient and simple ways!"

Croatia - even one of its remotest isles - is not an easy society: there's a sense of readiness surrounding war, a vivid sense of lives lived under an umbrella of violence, and an equally vivid exploration of why efforts to fit in or bond with Croatians often fail: "We were being taken up the stairs by the bearded doctor, when we heard the first unmistakable crump of artillery guns, and a second later the building shook from the explosions somewhere by the harbour. We froze. 'Nothing to worry about,' said our ex-St Thomas man. 'They won't be aiming at the hospital, and even if they do, they're such lousy shots, they'll never bag us.' Not exactly reassuring."

Stancomb finds himself in the role of observer, contrasting his British world with that of Croatia and coming to understand the legacies of past and present pressures on the country as generations of sea-faring peoples transition to different lifestyles.

From the EU's effects on immigration to the tendencies of the new generation to eschew the physical labour that dominated and sometimes crippled the lives of their parents and ancestors, Notes from a Very Small Island provides a rollicking read that follows the author's encounters and observations and uses them to go far beyond most expat accounts of dislocation and eventual adjustment.

Through Stancomb's eyes, one gets a sense of Croatian history and cultural change, and the effects this has on the presence of expats and aliens from other countries. The result is far more than a travelogue: it's a delightful, often surreal observational piece that considers both the bigger picture of relocation and the effects it holds both in-country and on evolving connections: "Their presence also made us realise that we had changed in other ways. In England, we had always made such an effort not to argue in front of the children, but now, we argued regardless."

Magnify: Focus on Key Customers, Deliver Value and Spark Your Profits
Dr. Betsy Kruger
Strategic Power
9780692535813 $29.95

Magnify: Focus on Key Customers, Deliver Value and Spark Your Profits provides business leaders with a precise analytical system and approach to serving customers and earning profits. Magnify is recommended not for casual business readers, but for those who seek concrete steps, facts, and strategies to transform their marketing plan.

This audience will discover that Magnify is a workbook; and this requires reader participation in an approach that involves making wise marketing decisions and planning actionable strategies.

SWOT Analysis is the tool offered to clarify a business mission, target a customer base, define a specialty, and use suppliers - but the process doesn't end here. This analytical tool examines the current business situation to understand how to change its competitive positioning by focusing on its strengths and mitigating its weaknesses.

Chapters provide a step-by-step guide to marketing management, from initial analysis to marketing decisions and proposed strategies. They leave nothing unexplained and assume no prior reader experience in using the 80/20 rule to predict and improve results.

The workbook approach requires entrepreneurs to plug in their own perceptions, and this requires a good degree of higher-level thinking and insights. Examples peppering the workbook inspire readers to take action based on the premise "Delight key customers and the business will be delighted with its profits. Let's learn to predict how valuable key customers are and how threats delimit the target market of a business."

From defining the characteristics of key customers to targeting such customers with a direct marketing campaign and devising ways to appeal to prospects who share these desirable traits, Magnify does just that. The workbook takes smaller elements of business success and translates them to an actionable 'bigger picture'.

Add in business examples from a variety of companies that plug easily into this step-by-step guide and you have a winning tool that takes twelve key marketing decisions and incorporates them into a system any business can apply to its marketing plan. All that's required from the reader is a willingness to change.

Kris Rhodes
Grip and Grin Press
1524 E Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46250
Prepublication manuscript

Brroop is free verse, it's 'weird fictional poems' capturing surreal moments, and it's a poetry collection that defies easy categorization but leaves the poetry reader with a haunting feeling long after imbibing of its imagery and destinations.

From an intriguing opener with 'In Reverse, We Do Not Die', which posits a state in which life's trajectory is reversed to the grave and even, unexpectedly, beyond in a challenging vision of immortality to a form of Christmas greeting that is not so jolly, but invites the unknown ("Merry Christmas, suit of clothes that walks by itself/following folks in a great show of stealth/coming close to our ears as we go on our way./Suit of clothes, come and dance! Suit of clothes! Come and play!"), these are ethereal, compelling and unexpected scenarios that hold little predictably and, therefore, are delightfully fresh - and often startling.

Elements of the unexpected extend to the length of the poems as well as their contents: some sections contain works as short as three lines, while others eschew the traditional poetic structure to become observational pieces, as in 'I Signed the Papers This Morning. All of Them Will Die.', a bittersweet piece about a father/daughter encounter after things have changed: "We had a pleasant chat/about her boyfriend. I like him. She is not so sure./She knows what I've done, I'm certain. And she has her/studies, and her little romances. These things continue."

Brroop specializes in tonal inconsistencies and in the juxtaposition of rhyme with free verse and snippets of life's experience, injecting into its diverse approaches an aura of cynical mystery and observation that is unique in its perspective.

Readers who look for variety, often-startling imagery, and most of all, diversity and the unexpected will find Brroop a welcome departure from the poetic norm: one that challenges conventional boundaries and offers something far more complex than your usual poetry collection. Fans of poems that make and break rules will love its varied approaches.

Brink of Dawn (Chosen Book 2)
Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef
Evolved Publishing
ISBN 9781622533152 Paperback $14.95 Ebook $3.99

With so many elements taking place in Brink of Dawn, a young adult fantasy, it's hard to see where such a saga could fail to impress. Take a thriller, add Native American influences, and mix in a healthy dose of the supernatural. Now follow two young protagonists on their quest to find other members of the Chosen group and discover their ultimate purpose and you have a follow-up in a thriller series that perfectly gauges the attention levels of young adult readers and provides a gripping, action-packed saga.

Brink of Dawn is narrated in the first person and is replete with emotional insights and a driving force that invites empathy and involvement right from the start: "He's always looking out for me. I used to get into fights, but even when they were my fault, he'd always stand up for me. Now I need him more then ever. The fate of the world is at stake, and he's still here beside me, standing up for me. He'll die to protect me if he has to, but I don't need him to protect me anymore. I need him close, to wrap his friendship around me like a blanket, to connect, to feel human. Lately I've had a hard time feeling human without him."

While familiarity with the prior book would be desirable, it's not absolutely required from newcomers who may have entered late with Book Two, which picks up where Wind Catcher ended.

As Juliet and best friend Troy journey from the small town that nearly ended their lives to the bigger city, and larger threats, they discover not just the truth about their destinies, but undergo tests that will ultimately determine whether they will form a successful group or will become divided and fractured by their own abilities.

Brink of Dawn is about new beginnings (literally and figuratively) and a treasure that many would kill for. It documents the rise of a powerful interplanetary force and defense that requires unusual sacrifices of its young charges, and traces the sacrifices and choices that create miracles, traitors, and defenders alike.

As in Wind Catcher, betrayal, faith, and love are themes woven into the thriller format - and be forewarned; Brink of Dawn also ends in a cliffhanger that portends future adventures. Who is good and who is evil? All is not black and white, and readers move deftly through a gray world of possibilities in a satisfying thriller saga which holds wonderfully unpredictable twists and many thought-provoking moments.

Highly recommended for young adult (and many an adult) thriller/fantasy readers who look for solid action, powerful characters, and an approach that breaks the usual genre boundaries to offer something refreshingly different.

The Scent of Something Sneaky
Gail E. Hedrick
Tumblehome Learning Inc.
P.O. Box 171386, Boston, MA 02117
9780989792486 $9.95 US / $10.99 CA

The Scent of Something Sneaky - Tumblehome Learning - Science & Engineering Books For Kids & More

Teenager Emily is spending the summer working at an accident-prone inn, encountering a series of circumstances that seem too frequent to be coincidental. Like any good sleuth, Emily smells foul play - but when drugs are linked to the inn, her friends become involved to help her get to the bottom of a plot that reeks of purpose.

Familiarity with the prior book (Something Stinks) is not required for newcomers ages 9-14 to appreciate Emily's character and adventures. Teens will appreciate the scent-driven clues and impressions throughout, which begins with the alluring aroma of coffee and evolves into something that simply smells wrong.

The inn summer job sounded like fun, initially - but it's about to get a lot more challenging as Emily's investigations only uncover more puzzles.

Septic smells. Soaps and lotions. Pies and baking ingredients. Chlorine. Something burning. As Emily uses her sleuthing skills to uncover clues, so she uses her head (and nose) to get to the truth surrounding a series of inexplicable disasters - one which will immerse her in an effort that places everyone in danger.

Replete with swift action, delicious olfactory intrigue, and spy action that steps fearlessly into danger, The Scent of Something Sneaky is a top recommendation for pre-teens and teens looking for a leisure read that's action-packed and vivid.

First Circle Club
Alex Siegel
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
ISBN: 9781517544737 $12.99 Paperback

Virgil has been betrayed and murdered: a typical story line usually covers events up to a murder or ends there; but the delight of First Circle Club is that this is only its opening act, as Virgil then finds himself in hell, pushing papers for eternity until an assignment by the Devil himself returns Virgil to Earth on a new mission.

Why would the Devil team up with delegates from Heaven to stop a murderous force that escaped from his realm? Why would he pick Virgil to be part of such a team? And how can even otherworldly forces stop a killer with superior supernatural powers?

One of the delights of First Circle Club is that nothing is predetermined or set in stone: the unexpected lingers around every corner and every twist of plot, providing even the most seasoned reader of supernatural or detective stories with something different.

Author Alex Siegel has made his name and fame with his Gray Spear Society novels, and while prior fans might anticipate a similar approach, in reality the only similarities between the two lie in some supernatural events and connections to heaven and hell. Everything else is refreshingly vivid and different, from protagonists forced to work with the enemy for a common cause to an unending mission that restarts with new facets at several points where one might think the story will conclude.

From cooking up a time travel saga to tracking both a copycat serial killer and an original threat, First Circle Club excels in just the right blend of intrigue, detective story, and thriller with more than a dose of the supernatural thrown in to create unexpected moments, making it a winning choice for any reader who likes to be kept on their toes with cults, unlikely teamwork, and demons.

Embracing the Wild in Your Dog
Bryan Bailey
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
9781619333833 $10.95
9781619334717 $16.95

Embracing the Wild in Your Dog: An Understanding Of The Authors Of Our Dog's Behavior - Nature And The Wolf considers the relationship between domestic dogs, wolves, and humans, and is a recommendation for any dog owner who seeks a discussion of the differences and similarities between dogs and their wolf brethren.

This isn't to say that Bailey claims that the wolf and the dog share the same characteristics: he's careful to point out where their heritage links and where it diverges, and also analyzes human influences on a dog's personality, traits and development. Coming from a canine trainer with more than enough experience in obedience, this means that Embracing the Wild in Your Dog isn't so much about control techniques as it is about understanding the wild nature of the domestic dog and how to redirect these natural tendencies to tailor aggression and change undesirable habits.

That said, the 'wolf' in a domestic dog isn't something to be dominated so much as something to be embraced: it's this process of acceptance and fine-tuning that leads a canine trainer to the type of control that syncs with a dog's nature, resulting in harmonious interactions for all involved.

This is not a 'dog training' book, however: readers who approach it as such may be disappointed. It's about understanding a dog's underlying psyche, its sources, and how to interact with the animal with this knowledge in mind; and the approaches use the author's experience growing up in the Alaskan wild and his encounters with wolves as the starting point for such an understanding.

Unique in its approach, filled with the author's insights ("...I changed how I handled Ranger and became a bit of a wolf myself in doing so."), and considering how leadership is established between species, Embracing the Wild in Your Dog is a delightful blend of memoir and insights into wild and domestic animal alike, and is highly recommended for canine owners who seek more animal psychology than the usual 'how to train your dog' book offers.

Blue Eel
Lorne Dixon
Cutting Block Books
PO Box 1521, Winchester VA 22604
List Price (Paperback): $15.95 List Price (eBook): $7.99

Blue Eel is a horror story about justice and revenge, developing its initial compelling tension from child Laurie's encounter with a neighborhood monster and examining simmering truths which lie just below the surface of a young child who stumbles into an impossible trap.

Laurie's carefree decision to sell class calendars on her own, to earn money for a coveted dog, leads her to neighbor Bruce at a trailer park, whose invitation to come inside raises warning flags her parents have carefully instilled about never entering a stranger's house. But Bruce's abode holds both shelter and a glowing figure that is inexplicable and fascinating; and results in an encounter from which she barely escapes - not without suffering its consequences.

As the story line moves from a child's perspective to a newspaper morgue and a detective's viewpoint, just enough description and tension are crafted to create a sense of mystery and wonder. There was no reason for her parents to suspect that their neighbor was anything but harmless, but their little girl is forever changed because of it - and she may now harbor something hidden and dangerous, herself.

Blue Eel is about takeovers, glowing monsters, invasion, and impossible investigations. It begins with a child and blossoms into a personal quest, children transformed, retired cops on impossible missions, and journeys that lead far from home.

A mysterious blue eel swims through the story line and represents alien worlds, consciousness, and attempts to fit in as well as take over a world - and the entire production is cemented by characters diverse in interests, intentions and psyches.

Take a horror story, add in science fiction elements, and tie everything together with a solid investigative approach backed by psychological depth and you have in Blue Eel a multi-faceted novel that draws horror and mystery readers and evolves into a gripping yarn of bigger pictures, which proves hard to put down and satisfyingly impossible to predict.

Death of Hesperus
Hannah Rhee
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B01230H5IE $4.01

Death of Hesperus takes place in the far north and centers around Sassa, who is more than familiar with the permanence and presence of death in her world, and who follows a snowy path of fear and loneliness, defying all the forces that would rip love away from her.

Superstition is a fundamental belief riding on the thin edge of folklore in her world; but she's about to cross the line when she embarks on a journey that leads her straight to the death of a loved one.

Under Hannah Rhee's hand the backdrop of the North, from its Northern Lights to its demanding environment, come to life. Under her pen, Sassa's dilemmas and encounters with different worlds and old traditions serve to clarify both her belief system and relative isolation and her choices when she faces Lorentz's demise.

It's rare to find a saga that takes time to spice its environment with exact images and impressions filled with powerful images when it has so much psychological ground to cover; but Rhee's approach successfully builds a foundation for understanding connections between physical environment and psychological states of mind: "Snow reigned in the season when all dies. Life waited, deep beneath the layer of frost, for the chance to blight the perfect white of the icy hands of death. As far as Sassa knew, this could be Halundlet: Ice and peace."

Caves and darkness, deities rejected, and powerful stolen souls all make their appearances as Sassa, armed only with a kitchen knife, makes her way through a polar world haunted by both myth and reality.

Filled with exquisite descriptions and an uncommon ability to evoke compelling mental snapshots presenting a sense of place and purpose, Death of Hesperus juxtaposes an incredible journey with powerful observations of environment throughout: "Now being so close, she could see clearly the wall's texture. It was crystalline and slightly translucent, with a milky-white glow coming from within. Like moonstone, she thought, smiling."

Tradition, an epic journey, an ultimate transformation: all these elements lend compelling vision and strength to Death of Hesperus, a novel that skirts fantasy and history to provide readers with a gripping saga of death, loneliness, and change; all set against the backdrop of an incredible far Northern world that holds a horrible truth and tempers opportunity with hope abandoned.

Mia Kerick
Young Dudes Publishing
9781517581046, $13.59 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Teens receive messages about the dangers of drugs from a range of media and social interactions, but often there is still the promise that ingesting a drug will mitigate psychological pain and overwhelming emotions. Attracted to drugs because of their confusing, evolving feelings, many a young adult falls into the drug world, never to emerge.

While Clean opens with a preface about this subject, it chooses the novel format (not nonfiction) to deliver its hard-hitting message about why teens choose drugs and what happens when they try to erase the harsh realities of their environments by creating an artificial inner bliss.

The first thing to note about Clean is that it's a psychological examination; not a thriller piece. Where other books would focus on drug-taking events and interactions between individuals, Clean tasks its characters with something different: revealing their motivations and emotions: "... it's not like I want to think about this stuff, but I can't stop myself. The "stuff" I don't want to think about is really people. The people I have hurt so much lately because of my bad habits."

A prologue opens with Lanny's latest drug of choice (a common household item) but then moves backwards in time, five months earlier, to where his hookup with a male classmate is ending. Perspectives switch between the two boys, and readers are treated to gritty observations that punctuate stiff language with gritty insights: "Times like this I wish my life had a giant red bail out button I could press and just disappear. I'd press it right now I would."

Sex, drugs, school and home pressures, and changed home lives: Clean mixes its drug experiences with messages about the different kinds of pressures teens experience, how they perceive and handle them, and the temptation to flee (however temporarily) life's realities. It also reveals how taking drugs alters not only their experiences and awareness, but affects the reactions of others who react differently to the changed behaviors of a person high on drugs.

All this is wrapped in a plot that moves back and forth through time in clearly-marked chapter headings, charting changing encounters from home life to the wider world, and surveys how kids stumble onto the wrong path and how they come clean.

What does it mean to be and stay clean; to live a drug-free life confronting all one's demons past, present and future without the mitigating aid of a chemical? Add an ongoing romance between two boys who struggle with different aspects and impacts of love and drugs and you have a very different story than most: a hard-hitting, street-wise series of encounters that don't let up and which stay true to the sexual and social milieu of teen life.

Supplement these insights with parents' perceptions of their children and you have a multi-faceted story that, more so than most, hones in on the reasons for staying sober or choosing chemicals in a story fueled by the contrast between a star athlete who chooses drugs and the efforts of a 'loser' to escape his destiny.

Tales from Alturas: The Puerto Rican Mystique
Emma Chaves
Floricanto Press
7177 Walnut Canyon Road, Moorpark, CA 93021
978188205558 $22.95

Tales from Alturas: The Puerto Rican Mystique provides a series of exquisitely-crafted short stories designed to highlight the positive effects Hispanics have had in the world. It does so by featuring the struggles of different families and individuals and then takes the usual devices of love, loss, and family a step further in considering the social ties that both bind and break in Hispanic culture in Puerto Rico.

These different stories, set in a rural mountain town, provide a series of revelations about the culture that uses familiar social challenges to identify uniquely Puerto Rican approaches to life, with fictional Puerto Rican villages and protagonists representing many of the cultural concerns unique to this group.

Take 'The Girls', for one example. The short story features a circle of girls ages twelve to fourteen years who discuss the murder of one girl's step-brother and a rape that went unpunished until his return from New Jersey as a rich, successful young man as lavish with his gifts as he is close-mouthed about his secrets.

Chaves' turns of plot make for a far more complicated tale than one of rape and redemption - and that's one hallmark of Tales from Alturas: each tale seems to be heading in a predictable direction, then offers a twist to present powerful insights into family connections and Puerto Rican culture.

'Petra's Dilemmas' is another example of this satisfying approach: it opens on an Alturas porch in 1947 on a sultry and quiet evening - but soon all hell breaks loose; and the description is exquisitely wrought: "Petra yanked the cable overhead, extinguishing her porch light and flung her body flat against the ground. No one in Alturas could call anyone's mother a whore without immediately endangering his life. All lights along the mountainside blacked out, leaving the task of illumination to the full moon."

From neighbors' brawls to night decisions and unfinished business, the story deftly outlines both the singular world of Petra's life and the interconnected community of her mountain village.

Steeped in Puerto Rican culture and encounters, Tales from Alturas: The Puerto Rican Mystique is a top recommendation for any who would better know Puerto Rican daily lives and concerns through the fictional eyes of protagonists who each take a different cultural thread and unwind it for some startling, revealing surprises.

The Lucifer Spore
Stephen Chensue
Chen Tzu Creations
ISBN number (eBook format): 9780996741590 $0.99
ISBN number (print format): 9780996741507 $12.80
iTunes bookstore by title search

Other science fiction stories have created scenarios where the Arctic or Antarctic ice holds buried extraterrestrial secrets and danger, but The Lucifer Spore takes a familiar scenario and carries it a step beyond reader expectations in outlining scientific team's discovery of alien capsules containing spores and what happens when a political struggle for control of the alien spores blends with a threat that could transform or eliminate humanity.

The adventure starts in one million BC, when a primitive, starving woman hunting for food in the forest stumbles upon a glowing, tree-like being. The descriptions are fabulous and paint exact, involving images of events as readers follow her encounter: "She could see tiny fires flashing under the god's skin and hear its humming heart as its arms moved over the plot of fresh mushrooms poking from the earth like pale penises."

The next time jump lands readers in 1581 CE, when an imperious duke embarks on a vendetta to erase the pagan clans who worship in a cave with mysterious symbols etched into its walls.

Now fast forward to the modern Antarctic, where astrobiologist Ravi Lakshmi is tasked with locating and analyzing meteorite fragments to uncover evidence of extraterrestrial life. It's nearly time for him to return to his NASA laboratory when he stumbles upon the biggest find of his life and (for a self-taught street-smart urchin who has already changed his world through tenacity, talent and perseverance) what promises to be his biggest achievement.

Ravi has long been dedicated to locating alien life forms but now he's stumbled on its reality, and the meat of The Lucifer Spore lies not in this discovery, but in what happens next. Experiments and escape plans, a mushroom's impetus for change, and an epiphany that involves a femme extraordinaire. A journey of sacrifice and pain leads readers on a path that incorporates more and more special interests and a deeper and deeper mystery as Ravi unravels the truths behind humanity's origins and purpose.

The Lucifer Spore is more than science fiction: it also laces its intrigue and mystery with more than a dose of spiritual reflection as it examines the reasons for humanity's leaps in progress and what these hold for the future. All this is wound into a plot with ever-expanding protagonists and special interests to create a satisfyingly complex read.

Science fiction and thriller readers alike will find The Lucifer Spore's descriptions solid, its actions logical and impeccably presented, and the final outcome intriguing and open-ended, holding out a possibility for more adventure.

Bibi & Babu in Peru, Volume 2
Bonnie Toews & John Christiansen
Whistler House Publishing
c/o Signalman Publishing
ISBN: 9781940145481 print
ISBN: 9781940145488 e-book
ASIN: B01724H9RI
$16.99 softcover $9.99 e-format

Volume Two of the picture book travels of Bibi and Babu introduces young readers to Peru, pairing a first-person travelogue with a dazzling array of photos that begin with Peru's archaeological relics and history and moves through the country, touring the modern city of Lima's museums and galleries and visiting Peru's countryside.

Several features set Bibi & Babu in Peru apart from the usual geography orientation for elementary-level picture book readers in grades 3-6; and the first is an unusual combination of travel diary, geography and historical facts tailored for an age range that typically receives only geography approaches tailored for reports and research.

This perspective succeeds in immersing kids in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Peru in a manner that research-oriented books couldn't capture, juxtaposing facts about the country with the authors' own first-person experiences: "As we walk around outside before entering the museum, we are fascinated with the flowers and colonial architecture of the building."

This is not to say that historical facts aren't an intrinsic part of the book: sidebars of information juxtaposed with museum holdings and discussions provide plenty of information on the country's evolution and past. But the real treat that sets this part from the ordinary geography approach lies in the personal touches in passages that provide a 'you are there' feel to the authors' travels: "Here, in the Santa Domingo Church, we are filled with awe. It is not just history wandering through these chambers, it is also the meeting place of so many worlds: sacred, pagan, mythical, spiritual, and astronomical."

Maps and photos drive the tour as Bibi and Babu survey museums, take train and bus rides, arrive at small towns, and view the country's natural and human wonders.

It would be a shame to limit this picture book to young audiences alone: many an adult looking for an eye-catching and involving, simple introduction to Peru will find themselves attracted to the travelogue, making Bibi & Babu in Peru a special recommendation for read-aloud, educational and leisure reading purposes for all ages.

The Mayan Red Queen: Tz'aakb'u Ahau of Palenque
Leonide Martin
Made for Success Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 1775, Issaquah, WA 98027
9781613398463 $5.99

Young Mayan ruler K'inich Janaab Pakal is marrying the shy, retiring Lalak, whose only inclination towards royalty lies in her lineage. Happier with animals than with people, she would seem an unlikely candidate to become a ruler; but an overly possessive mother-in-law has chosen Lalak just because she'll be no threat to her role in her son's life - unlike the woman she banished, who was Pakal's true love.

As Lalak struggles with her evolving relationships with son and mother-in-law, she also comes into her own abilities, which go beyond serving as breeding material for Pakal's lineage. When he embarks on a spiritual quest to rebuild a connection to the gods, she discovers a sexual mysticism that will change not just their relationship, but the world.

Fast forward to modern times, when an archaeologist uncovers clues to her heritage in the course of her research and embarks on a journey to discover more. As Lalak discovers that the 'veil' that clouds her true abilities is one of self-doubt and suspicion, so Francesca finds the parallels in history that will lead her to accept her own connections to an ancient Mayan heritage.

Field journals written by Francesca Nokom juxtapose nicely with Lalak's evolving world and as Francesca closes in on the true identity of the Red Queen of Palenque, an endeavor that has taken ten years of hard research, so she makes personal discoveries about her rich world's real influences.

Detailed accounts of archaeological processes punctuate the story line and provide a realistic feel to the progression of events. The attention to contrasting ancient and modern Mexican settings is also well done and adds depth and meaning to overall events, while Martin takes time to detail the methods of investigation that are involved in archaeological research.

Oracles and divine visions, priests and priestesses, goddesses and oracles, and ancient medicines that can repel malevolent forces: all these are drawn together in a clear portrait of ancient Mexico and the lush jungles surrounding Palenque.

It should be noted that this is Book Three of a series and concludes with an open ending inviting Book Four; but it also stands well on its own and assumes no prior familiarity with the series. Under Martin's hand the Mayan world and its underlying influences come alive, making for a thriller highly recommended for readers who also enjoy stories of archaeological wonders.

Fire Canoe Finnegan
Denis J. Harrington and Charlie Steel
Condor Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 39 /123 South Barlow Rd., Lincoln, MI 48742
9781931079129 $12.95

The title of the historical novel Fire Canoe Finnegan is compelling, offering an immediate mystery until readers learn (and many likely will recall) that 'fire canoe' was the Native American term for the paddle wheelers that plied the rivers of Missouri and beyond.

Clint Finnegan falls into the job of steering one of these massive boats by default, but his time aboard the river ship is brief as it is robbed and set adrift, sending him on an overland journey in search of the stolen money and a beautiful passenger whom he's encountered only very briefly.

Finnegan is a take-charge kind of guy: the perfect hero for a rough-and-tumble frontier world where Indians are in the process of banding together to thwart the 'Iron Horse' that threatens to cross the country and destroy their way of life, and where robbers with special interests traverse this dangerous, wild territory with apparent ease.

He's just the kind of guy to embark on a mission to retrieve the money and girl - and just the kind of person to persevere against all odds.

Fire Canoe Finnegan is an exquisite read on many levels: its dialogue is realistic, its history of the times and region is well-researched and vividly presented, and its action is well done. Any who relish Western themes and historical depth will appreciate the attention to detail that brings the era and setting of Fire Canoe Finnegan to life in a read that is a gripping standout in both Western or historical novel genres.

Secondary Impact
Barbara Ebel
Publication Pending
Paperback ISBN-13: 9780991158973
eBook ISBN-13: 9780991158980

By now it should be evident to prior fans that the words 'Dr. Danny Tilson novel' actually promise a medical story well on par with the best works of Robin Cook and other notables; and Secondary Impact's addition (the fourth book in the series) maintains the usual high quality of plot, character, and tension development as it follows events surrounding Dr. Tilson's latest challenge.

A court injury to his daughter's beau during a basketball game leads Dr. Tilson to take precautions even though his possible future son-in-law has no initial serious symptoms of head injury. Readers are treated to a real-world assessment procedure as Dr. Danny diagnoses and comments on the prevalence of sports injuries and their dangers.

But when disaster strikes at his own door, Dr. Tilson has a vested interest in examining his bedside manner, his diagnosis, and his methods of imparting information, even though it may be too late. And when he embarks upon a line of experimental research that could mitigate disaster, his daughter's beau's life is on the line in the process of testing his theory.

Add in an ongoing, escalating conflict with cruel ex Rachel and the recipe she cooks up for causing ongoing trouble and you have a multi-faceted story line that moves quickly between professional physician, father, and family man and juxtaposes a medical dilemma with personal struggle.

Secondary Impact isn't just about the outcome of a sports injury or a creative surgeon's abilities: it's about the outcomes of many stormy relationships and, ultimately, about new life and new beginnings. It also can't be categorized as a 'thriller' in the usual sense of high-level, nonstop action. Powered by solid protagonists, a touch of intrigue, and a host of complex interpersonal relationships, the novel stays true to its characters throughout and is highly recommended for any fan of medical experiences
mixed with personal challenge.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Dunford's Bookshelf

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
James Agee
Edited by Hugh Davis
The University of Tennessee Press
110 Conference Center UT, Knoxville, TN 37996
9781621900306 $103.00

Synopsis: In the summer of 1936, writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans, on assignment for Fortune magazine, went to central Alabama to document the lives of three white sharecropper families. Agee's editors killed the article, and after a torturous five-year struggle to do artistic justice to the material, the author finally published it in book form as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, only to see it sink with barely a ripple. The posthumous revival of Agee's literary fortunes led to the work's reissue in 1960, its adoption as an unofficial bible by civil rights workers, and its enshrinement as an American classic. It has remained in print ever since.

In this, the third volume in The Works of James Agee series, editor Hugh Davis not only offers a thoroughly annotated edition of the Agee-Evans masterpiece, featuring invaluable explanatory notes as well as notes comparing the published work to extant copies of the original manuscript, but also supplements that text with a wealth of additional material: an insightful critical essay, variant versions of key sections, unused chapters, correspondence between Agee and others involved in the book's publication (notably Houghton Mifflin editor Robert Linscott), generous selections from the author's notebooks, and much more.

This volume opens with the original gallery of Evans's thirty-one photographs from the 1941 edition and also includes, as part of the supplementary material, the expanded gallery of sixty-two photos that appeared in the 1960 edition. Here as well is the text of the rejected Fortune article, "Cotton Tenants," fully annotated for the first time. Informed by Agee's love of his subjects, his acute observational skills, and his poetic, passionate, raging voice - not to mention the stark artistry of Evan's black and white photography. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book that to this day defies easy classification. This volume recaptures the aesthetic impact of the original, corrects errors from earlier editions, and, most important, illuminates the difficult process that spawned its creation.

Critique: This definitive edition includes not only Agee's published work, but also extensive explanatory notes, unused chapters, drafts, an index, black-and-white photographic plates, and much more. A keenly vivid portrayal of the lives, trials, and tribulations of three white sharecropper families in the mid-1930's (during the soul-crushing height of the Great Depression), Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is especially recommended for public and college library collections, as are the previous two volumes collecting the life's work of James Agee: "A Death in the Family" (9781572335943, $49.95) and "Complete Journalism" (9781572339941, $117.00).

Leading Continuous Change
Bill Pasmore
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
9781626564411, $24.95, 232pp,

Synopsis: Most change efforts fail because most change methods are built to deal with single challenges in a nice, neat, linear way. But leaders know that today, pressures for change don't come at you one at a time; they come all at once. It's like riding a roller coaster: sudden drops, jarring turns, anxious climbs into the unknown. Drawing on his years of experience at the Center for Creative Leadership and Columbia University, Bill Pasmore's "Leading Continuous Change: Navigating Churn in the Real World" offers a four-part model and four mindsets that allow leaders to deal with multiple changes simultaneously without drowning in the churn. The first step, Pasmore says, is to Discover which external pressures for change are the most necessary to address. The key here is to think fewer - step away from the buffet of possibilities and pinpoint the highest-impact options. Then you need to Decide how many change efforts your organization can handle. Here the mindset is to think scarcer - you have only so many people and so many resources, so how do you best use them? Once you've figured that out, it's time to Do - and here you want to think faster. Streamline processes and engage in rapid prototyping so you can learn quickly and cost-effectively. The last step is to Discern what worked and what didn't, so think smarter - develop metrics, identify trends, and make sure learnings are disseminated throughout the organization. For each stage of the process, Pasmore offers detailed advice, practical tools, and real-world examples. "Leading Continuous Change" is a comprehensive guide to navigating change the way it happens now.

Critique: Impressively informative and practical, "Leading Continuous Change: Navigating Churn in the Real World" is enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices ('A Checklist for Assessing Where Your Are' and 'Leading continuous Change Self-Assessment'); eight pages of Notes; and a sixteen page Index. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Business Management reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that "Leading Continuous Change" is also available to individual readers in a Kindle edition ($11.99) and in an MP3 CD format (Brilliance Audio, 9781501238918, $14.06).

The Boardman Ridgeley Mysteries / Return To Bobcat Mountain
John R. Canfield
Biographical Publishing Company
95 Sycamore Drive, Prospect, CT 06712-1493
9780991352197, $12.95, 182pp,

Synopsis: The two mysteries comprising "The Boardman Ridgeley Mysteries / Return To Bobcat Mountain" by John R. Canfield continue the adventures of that unlikely bachelor sleuth and former business consultant Hamilton Smith, once again unavoidably "thrown into the breech". "The Boardman Ridgeley Murders" finds Smith's involvement requested by a former colleague who finds himself in immediate danger of being made redundant by this prestigious international consulting firm. There follows a series of brutal executive murders that finally forces Smith into an uncomfortable and risky situation in order to uncover the truth! In his "Return To Bobcat Mountain," our hero resumes life in this idyllic retirement retreat only to find there exists a cataclysmic threat to the serenity and safety of the little gated community that requires urgent confrontation – as well of the possibility of long avoided romance!

Critique: The two back-to-back short stories comprising "The Boardman Ridgeley Mysteries / Return To Bobcat Mountain" clearly document author John R. Canfield is a master of the mystery genre. Terrifically satisfying reads from beginning to end, "The Boardman Ridgeley Mysteries / Return To Bobcat Mountain" is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Deduct It!: Lower Your Small Business Taxes
Stephen Fishman, J.D.
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413322057, $34.99, 544pp,

Synopsis: "Deduct It!: Lower Your Small Business Taxes" shows you how to maximize your business deductions?quickly, easily and legally. Easy to read and full of real-world examples, "Deduct It!" will pay for itself many times over. It covers deductions for: start-up and operating expenses; travel, meals and entertainment; home offices (including new IRS rules); equipment and inventory. "Deduct It!" also includes detailed information on Obamacare and how it affects small business owners, including the health insurance mandate for individuals and businesses with employees, credits and deductions under the new law, IRS penalties for noncompliance, and Obamacare's impact on HRAs (Health Reimbursement Arrangements) and HSAs (Health Savings Accounts). "Deduct It!" shows you how to avoid problems with the IRS, including having your business classified as a hobby. It also explains how to amend your tax return if necessary. Whether your enterprise is just starting or well established, "Deduct It!" is indispensable to your financial success.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, this fully updated and expanded twelfth edition of "Deduct It!: Lower Your Small Business Taxes" should be considered essential and mandatory for any and all businesses from the newest entrepreneurial venture to established multinational corporation. Of special note is that "Deduct It!" comes with a companion web site at Nolo Press that business operators can stay current with legal updates to "Deduct It!", as well as hundreds of valuable articles and FAQs, useful legal forms, and in-depth profiles of business and tax lawyers in whatever area of the country the reader resides. Thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end, "Deduct It!" is very highly recommended for professional, corporate, community, and academic library Business & Economics reference collections in general, and Small Business supplemental studies lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Deduct It!" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.46).

The Wisest One In The Room
Thomas Gilovich & Lee Ross
The Free Press
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781451677546, $26.00, 307pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Thomas Gilovich (Professor of Psychology at Cornell University) and Lee Ross (Professor of Psychology, Stanford University), "The Wisest One in the Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology's Most Powerful Insights", describes useful insights drawn from social psychology that can help make you "wise": wise about why people behave the way they do, and wise about how to use that knowledge in understanding and influencing the people in your life. When faced with a challenge, we often turn to those we trust for words of wisdom. Friends, relatives, and colleagues: someone with the best advice about how to boost sales, the most useful insights into raising children, or the sharpest take on an ongoing conflict. In "The Wisest One in the Room" asks such questions as Why?; What do these people know?; What are the foundations of their wisdom?; What general principles of human psychology are they drawing on to reach these conclusions?

"The Wisest One In The Room" begins by noting that wisdom (unlike intelligence) demands some insight into people including their hopes, fears, passions, and drives. "The Wisest One In The Room" shows that to answer any kind of behavioral question, it is essential to understand the details, especially the hidden and subtle details, of the situational forces acting upon us. It is by understanding these forces that we find the key to becoming wiser in the way we understand the people and events we encounter, and wiser in the way we deal with the challenges that are sure to come our way -- perhaps even the key to becoming "the wisest in the room."

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of Note and a twelve page Index, "The Wisest One In The Room Room: How You Can Benefit from Social Psychology's Most Powerful Insights" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. An impressively well written study, "The Wisest One In The Room" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Psychology reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "The Wisest One in the" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Artists II
Jason Schmidt
c/o Gerhard Steidl GmbH & Co. OHG
9783869306322, $70.00, 180pp,

Synopsis: Artists II is the second volume of Jason Schmidt's ongoing photographic documentation of today's most significant artists. From young to old creative forces, emerging to career-peaking, world-famous or as yet unknown, Schmidt's images, captured over a period of twelve years, are an incisive look into the art world of today. Artists II depicts 166 artists, including John Baldessari, Ai Weiwei, Glenn Ligon and Cindy Sherman, in their studios or work environments, showing the practitioners in their most intimate moments-in the process of creation. A revealing text by each artist accompanies his or her portrait; some are literal descriptions of the encounter, others are poetic or enigmatic. Situated between portraiture and landscape, Schmidt's photographs show art and artist in constant transformation, and form a comprehensive archive of contemporary artistic practice.

Critique: Showcasing Jason Schmidt's superbly crafted photography in full color, "Artists II" is a magnificent coffee-table format compendium that is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For those to whom "Artists II" is their first introduction to the work of Jason Schmidt I would commended their attention to his first volume, "Artists 2000-2006" (Edition 7L, 9783865213020, $100.00, 156pp).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

Juli Zeh
c/o Penguin Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
978101910504, $16.95,

Sven Fiedler has a perfect life. He and his girlfriend live and work on the Spanish island of Lanzatote. He is a diving instructor who loves where he is in life. Everything is ideal until a tourist couple enter into his life that changes everything he has worked so hard for.

Decompression is a tense page turning novel of suspense that starts like a slow moving train. then roars along to its final pages.

Patrick Lee
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250030740, $9.99,

Patrick Lee's "Runner" opens with a simple situation. Sam Dryden, ex- Special Forces is on a daily run when he encounters a girl who can't remember very much about herself. Once he begins to help her he finds that his whole quiet life has suddenly been turned upside down. Now on the run he and the girl can trust no one as Sam tries to protect her. He also has to learn who and why they both have been put into the position they are in. "Runner" is a complicated plot that twists and turns until the very end and is suspenseful all the way through.

Butterfly Waltz
Jane Tesh
Silver Leaf Books LLC
P.O. Box 6460 Holliston, Ma 01746
9781609751241 $17.95

I am often asked "how important are the front and back covers? In the case of "Butterfly Waltz" Very. I had no interest because the information on the back cover is very difficult to read, while the front gave me no idea of what to expect inside. The first few pages did not help either because writing was very confusing. New authors should realize that their book is a presentation that should get people interested in reading what they have written. Sadly "Butterfly Waltz fails on many different levels.

Foreign Affairs
Stuart Woods
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399174674, $27.95,

Stone Barrington is back in another great thriller. This time he crisscrosses Europe in a cat and mouse game that could get him killed. Woods has always delivered a page turning novel and "Foreign Affairs" is another excursion into the high roller world of Stone Barrington.

Dark Tales Ghost Stories
Dark Tales Phobia
Robert A Reese
9781514836255, $TBA, Book 1;
9781517109349, $12.00, Book 2;

"Dark Tales Ghost Stories" and "Dark Tales Phobia" are excursions into the world of ghosts and ghouls guaranteed to send shivers down any reader's spine. Some of the chilling tales are, a family can not escape a hearse that continues to follow them, a shadow man with sharp claws and glowing yellow eyes, and other things that go bump in the night.

Seize The Night New Tales of Vampiric Terror
Christopher Golden, ED.
Gallery Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476783093, $18.00

For a long time vampires in fiction have been popular. Presently there is a competition in horror fiction between zombies and vampires as to which is most popular. It is a neck and neck rivalry that does not seem to have a winner anytime soon. "Seize The Night" evens the field with its bitingly cold stories that will keep fans of the genre reading deep into the night. Golden has chosen some of the best writers in the field of horror fiction to grace the pages of this chilling collection.

God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy
Mike Huckabee
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250060990, $26.99,

Mike Huckabee talks about many things in "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy." His prose takes you along as he comments on many different aspects of our lives with a common sense approach to solve many of the problems we face. He deals with a reasonable approach to guns, respect for other people, rational approaches to tackle problems in this country, the culture of many years ago and now and how it has changed for the worse, are some of his observations. While other candidates for public office tell about themselves and their views of how to solve the country's problems Huckabee gives the perception that he is talking directly to the reader in a laid back manner about many things that he has realized about our world. "Gods, Guns, Grits, and Gravy" is perfect reading for this political season.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
Jill Lepore
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
9780385354042, $29.95,

Wonder Woman has thrilled audiences for a long time but so many of us have not known the history of her until now. "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" is not just a study of the character but also a very revealing look at her creator and the many influences on him and his creation. William Moulton Marston had an interesting career before he authored Wonder Woman. He is credited as being the inventor of the lie detector. Perhaps that is where the idea for the magic lasso came from. The author goes into many other things like why he wrote Wonder Woman under the name Charles Moulton, his views of women and their place in the world, how the costume, and the art was developed, the tough road to getting into print, and the even more difficult route to film. Fans of comics and Wonder Woman will love reading the history behind the character and her creator in 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman."

The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba A New Life Begins Book 1 Series 1
Created by Roen de Pinto
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478754602, $16.95,

Zealy is a seal pup who goes out into the world to have adventures. Along the way she meets Whubba a baby orca whale. The two become best friends. The story is short and to the point but a nice beginning for a series of kid's book.

The Bird That Didn't Want To B A Bird
Anne Toole Illustrated by Richa Kinra
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478756378, $12.95,

A little bird goes on a quest to explore the possibility to be something else in life. On the journey the bird encounters many different kinds of animals before making a decision of what it wants to be. Geared to kids as a cute children's book "The Bird That Didn't Want To Be A Bird" is so much more with an underlying premise to teach people to look into themselves and think what they would like to be in life.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

The Incidental Spy
Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Red Herrings Press
272 Summerfield Road, Norhbrook, IL 60062
9781938733840, $16.99, Paperback, 181 pp

This newest book by Libby Fischer Hellmann, the author of a number of standalones as well her acclaimed Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis mystery series, takes a different path entirely: a historical thriller. The protagonist is Lena Bentheim, who, in pre-War, 1935 Berlin, pledges her undying love to Josef Meyer, who reciprocates those emotions, vowing his love "until death do us part." A few weeks later, Lena, 16 years old, seizes the opportunity to leave Berlin and boards a ship for New York, then heads to Chicago. Neither Josef nor her parents were quite so fortunate.

Josef was "waiting for her in Budapest, and as soon as she could, she would bring him to the States." But that seems destined not to happen. She takes a job working in the Physics Department at the University of Chicago, headed by Professor Arthur Compton, the department chair and a Nobel Prize-winner. She soon meets and ultimately marries Karl Stern, another Jewish German refugee, in June, 1937 and a little over two years later, their son Max is born. The news in Europe is such that she is sure neither her parents nor Josef have survived the Nazis, with their Final Solution, and despite the new life she has been given, the fates, or whatever else one chooses to call them, are not yet done with her, and more tragedy awaits her.

Lena is now working with a group of physicists who produced the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, in what would become the Manhattan Project. But Lena is forced to spy on the nuclear fission experiments at the University. She feels that "she was nothing more than a pawn . . . Unimportant. Expendable." The plot is completely convincing, and Ms. Hellmann has given us an engrossing novel, and this reader was totally unprepared for the shocking ending.


The Stranger
Harlan Coben
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525953500, $27.95, Hardcover, 400 pp.

From the publisher – no spoilers here:

"The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world. Adam Price has a lot to lose: A comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life." He introduces himself thusly: "I'm the stranger. The stranger with important knowledge," or "the stranger who reveals truth." And proceeds to destroy, or end, lives with his information, whatever it is, different in each instance.

This scene is repeated in several of those anonymous settings mentioned above, each time devastating the person on the receiving end. (For a different take, the author offers a [very apt] quote from T.S. Eliot: "Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger. Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions. There is one who remembers the way to your door: Life you may evade, but Death you shall not."

Once the Stranger imparts his information to his mostly unwilling listener, there is no way one can put that genie back in the bottle, or unring that bell, or whatever other cliche one may choose. The unwavering theme of the novel is "secrets and lies," and once exposed, there is no going back. As one character says to another: "How far would you go to protect your family? You'd never hurt anyone, I'd never hurt anyone. But if someone threatens your family, if it means saving your child . . ." But we are reminded that "People will do anything to keep their secrets. Even kill."

The name of the stranger is not revealed to the reader until more than half-way through the book.

In trademark Coben fashion, the author has given us another suspense-filled novel. It would appear that Dutton is bringing out the author's next thriller, "Fool Me Once," on March 22, 2016, and I for one can't wait!

Highly recommended.

Little Black Lies
Sharon Bolton
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250028594, $25.99, Hardcover, 368 pp.

From the publisher:

The remote Shetland Islands serve as the setting for Sharon Bolton's chilling new standalone novel. When a young boy visiting the islands with his family goes missing, a sense of dread settles on the isolated, tight-knit community. It's the third young child to go missing in as many years. While the previous two were assumed to be accidents, the third disappearance sends an ominous message to everyone on the islands: A killer may be living among them: "The chances of three boys between the ages of seven and three disappearing in three years" cannot be explained by coincidence."

The first of three points of view in this novel is that of Catrin Quinn, a marine biologist who has her own form of PTSD after the accidental death of her two sons three years ago, the result of the utter carelessness of her childhood best friend, Rachel, and the ensuing years have seen her emotions go from grief to a determination to seek revenge in an as-yet undetermined way. The events described take place over the space of several days, the most fraught of those on November 3, 1994, when a solar eclipse occurred (although not at the precise time of day that it actually happened, we are told in an author's note). As the book opens, it is approaching the third anniversary of Catrin's boys' deaths, a date of which all and sundry are well aware.

The second p.o.v. is that of former Second Lieutenant Callum Murray, who first came to the Falklands during the 1982 UK war with Argentina in its 74 days of occupation, still suffering from the more severe sort of PTSD resulting in severe panic attacks and flashbacks as a result of that horrific time. And the third and final p.o.v. is that of Rachel, the aforementioned best friend of Catrin, who describes herself as "something of a ghoul on the islands. No one looks at me and doesn't think: woman who killed two kids."

The Falklands are described thusly: "When you're hundreds of miles away from the rest of the world, when news from outside is always too little, too late, then the world you inhabit, however small and sparsely populated, assumes a terrific importance. In the Falkland Islands, everybody knows everybody else's business." There is infidelity and jealousy and suspense aplenty here. The gorgeous writing is particularly vivid in glorious descriptions of the islands and their natural beauty. There is a lot of death in these pages, both the human and animal variety. But the twists and shocking turns of events, and the suspense as the three narrators converge in the local constabulary in the final pages, are well worth reading, and the novel is definitely recommended.

A String of Beads
Thomas Perry
The Mysterious Press
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802124449, $16.00, Paperback, 400 pp.

This is the eighth entry in the Jane Whitefield series, and a most welcome one it is.

Jane McKinnon, a Seneca woman now in her mid-thirties and very happily married for the past seven years to a local Buffalo, New York surgeon, Carey McKinnon, after making a career as a "guide," helping those whose lives are in danger get to safety and establish new identities. She has "stopped taking on runners and their troubles," living a quiet life since she was shot and badly hurt a year ago, until the morning she is approached by the eight "clan mothers . . . important dignitaries in the Seneca culture," who ask her to find a young man, Jimmy, with whom she was great friends in their childhood on the reservation, who has disappeared after a man with whom he had publicly fought had shortly thereafter been killed, shot to death in their cabin in front of the woman with whom he was living. The police have been looking for Jimmy as the prime suspect, and he has fled.

This is a switch from the previous seven novels in the series (which had me hooked from the first one, "Vanishing Act"): Where usually Jane is helping someone hide and change identities, this time she is trying to find someone who has already done that. And this time it's someone with whom she has a deep personal connection.

The author has, happily and as usual, included fascinating bits of historical as well as Indian cultural tidbits and wonderfully poetic descriptions of the natural world, as Jane makes her way along western and northern New York State, in a meticulously plotted and suspenseful tale, one which is recommended.

Don't Look Back
Gregg Hurwitz
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250068316, $9.99, Paperback, 448 pp.

The title derives from words spoken by a mysterious figure at the heart of this book, an exhortation not to be taken lightly. When the warning is ignored, in the early pages of the novel, it is the last mistake made by the woman to whom it is spoken. The man is lethal in a nearly unbelievable way, well-trained in jihadi tactics, and intent on only one thing: That no one must see him, no one must endanger his hard-won invisibility.

Our protagonist, Eve Hardaway, single mother of an adored 14-year-old boy, has taken a rafting and hiking trip in the mountains of Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico. Having come upon the fatal encounter referenced above, she is plunged into the most threatening and dire of situations, both nature-made and man-made, exhibiting incredible bravery. The man hunting her, having seen her observing his murderous actions, has almost inhuman expertise in all things offensive and defensive. Eve is facing unimaginable odds and a relentless adversary. In fact, that last adjective describes the book as a whole, for it too is relentless. So much so that I kept finding myself wanting to put the book down, but could not bring myself to do so. The author's descriptions of the jungle and its inhabitants, human and otherwise, are very well wrought. There are occasional chapters from the pov of Eve's adversary, giving the reader a glimpse into the mind and heart of a man who is basically, in addition to and despite being a devoutly religious man, a homicidal terrorist.

The book spans about one week, but the scenes that play out sometimes seem endless. Eve is one of a group of seven, of varying ages and greater or lesser abilities under these threatening circumstances, and they each find their bravery and loyalty to one another tested. At some point they see the reality of the situation: "Us vs. nature. Us vs. him." Which just about sums it up.

Despite some reservations, the novel is recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

Shaman Healer Heretic
M. Terry Green
Middleworld Productions
Amazon Digital Services
B004KAAUUG, $3.99, ebook, 369 pages,
9780983292500, $13.99 PB, 372pp,

Shaman Healer Heretic is a fun urban fantasy novel with a slightly different world structure. Instead of the now, way too typical, vampires and demons, it has shamans working against the ills of the world by journeying from this realm to other planes of existence. The urban fantasy worlds in the story are very well built. The key to good world design is when the reader wishes the world was reality and this creation fits.

Olivia, or as she prefers to be called Livvy, is a techno-shaman. Techno-shamans use virtual reality goggles to enter the trance states they need to help their patients. Livvy wakes up to a Kachina, a Hopi god, in her room. The Kachina wants her to do something but she doesn't understand what it is. The next time she enters the middleworld to help a patient's spirit which is in trouble she finds the middleworld in trouble. The worlds the shamans travel to are in turmoil and the results are causing death and destruction both in those worlds and the real world outside. Someone has let lose a Sumerian god and now Livvy has been drawn into a battle between gods.

Shaman Healer Heretic is a unique fantasy novel that is enough different from the current crop of fantasy works to standout. The story is strong enough by itself to be worth finding but when you add the unique and fun urban world Green has created it becomes a must read in the fantasy genre. It is an easy recommendation.

Chasing the Star Garden
Melanie Karsak
Clockpunk Press
Amazon Digital Services
B00GXUU6IC, $2.99, ebook, 316 pages
9780615878775, $14.99, 314pp,

Chasing the Star Garden is a fun adult steampunk story that takes place in an alternative history 1800s Europe. The storyline is light but there is a detailed character back history of abuse for the likeable heroine. This backstory makes the book.

Lily Stargazer pilots a racing airship. She is one of the best pilots in the world. After a race, a man in a harlequin costume breaks through security and hands her a package before killing himself. This puts her on track to find a mystical and ancient lost artifact. She has to fight both the looters around her and the demons within her on an odyssey to find the treasure.

Chasing the Star Garden is for the adult audience. It is a great light steampunk story. It is an easy recommendation for adult readers who are interested in an escapist weekend. It is a great introduction into the steampunk genre for those exploring niches they have heard about but haven't dabbled in yet.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Champion of Entean: Episode One of the Entean Saga
C. B. Williams
AlChemy Ranch Books
c/o Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9780988181472, $10.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle, 294pp,

Synopsis: Eloch, the Champion of Entean, is asked by the planet who loves him to travel light-years from his home to Spur, a technologically advanced planet whose citizens are determined to colonize Entean. And because Eloch loves his planet Entean, he goes...only to discover that the vast power flowing through him, power only a Champion can wield, vanishes the moment the spacecraft bound for Spur enters its first wormhole. Now powerless and alone, how can Eloch stop the colonization, as he has sworn to do? Meanwhile, on Spur, SubCity KinLord Wren has her own problems. Sensing the imminent threat of a Culling, in which the strongest of her Folk are taken to serve the UpperUppers who live Above while the weak and old are killed, she must find a way to protect those under her care. How can she give the Martials what they want while keeping those they don't alive? Eloch and Wren - strangers from different corners of the universe brought together by happenstance. When their paths cross, it will change each of their missions to serve and protect, as well as the course of their very lives.

Critique: A powerful blend of science fiction and social commentary, Champion of Entean explores the dark dynamics of interstellar conquest and oppression. The protagonists' efforts to save their respective peoples against nigh-overwhelming odds will keep the reader captivated to the end. Highly recommended! Champion of Entean is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Brightness Calling: Episode Two of the Entean Saga
C. B. Williams
AlChemy Ranch Books
c/o Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9780988181496, $10.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle, 272pp,

Synopsis: The saga of Entean continues. First Entean sent Eloch, Her Champion, to Spur. Now She needs him to serve as Her ambassador to Longwei. Something unknown and threatening is coming from the neighboring galaxy, and the planet sisterhood's warrior member has gone silent. Why does Longwei refuse to communicate with Her Sister Planets? Aiko's ship, the Stardust, transports Eloch and Wren to Longwei. There they attempt to open a dialogue with an angry and unresponsive planet who calls Herself Goddess and governs Her volcanic world through Her Priestesses. Unless there is outside interference. Outside interference is unacceptable, and will be dealt with personally by the Goddess of Volcanoes. And the Goddess Longwei considers Eloch and all those aboard the Stardust to be outside interference.

Critique: An impressive series, judging by the first two volumes. Author C. B. Williams clearly demonstrates impressive storytelling talent, and is a true master of the science fiction genre. Very highly recommended, "Champion of Entean: Episode One of the Entean Saga" and "Brightness Calling: Episode Two of the Entean Saga" will leave eager and highly entertained readers looking forward to more of Eloch's far flung adventures in service to Entean. It should be noted for personal reading lists that both of these outstanding titles are available in Kindle editions ($3.99).

Service Learning in Psychology
Robert G. Bringle, et al.
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433820793, $69.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: Service learning is a powerful educational tool that allows undergraduate psychology students both majors and nonmajors to improve their scholarly, personal, and professional outcomes through civic engagement. Students hone knowledge and skills from the classroom by applying them to volunteer work in collaboration with community organizations and residents. Activities might include tutoring children, developing informational brochures, or conducting research in support of social change initiatives. "Service Learning in Psychology: Enhancing Undergraduate Education for the Public Good" reviews the theory, research, and practice behind service learning, establishing it as an effective pedagogy that can help psychology departments meet each of the five key learning goals as well as many learning indicators outlined in the American Psychological Association s Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major. Chapters provide clear guidelines for designing service learning courses and integrating them into the undergraduate psychology curriculum. Specific implementation strategies including sample project designs and classroom assignments are applied to introductory, major, and capstone courses in a wide variety of popular subjects. The authors also examine departmental issues such as faculty development, assessment, and scholarship, providing useful blueprints for department-wide civic engagement.

Critique: The collaborative effort of Robert G. Bringle (the Kulynych/Cline Visiting Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Appalachian State University; Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Philanthropic Studies, and Senior Scholar, Center for Service and Learning at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), Roger N. Reeb (Professor of Psychology and Roesch Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences at University of Dayton), Margaret A. Brown (Professor of Psychology at Seattle Pacific University), and Ana I. Ruiz (Professor of Psychology at Alvernia University), "Service Learning in Psychology: Enhancing Undergraduate Education for the Public Good" is very highly recommended for academic library Contemporary Psychology reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

This Muslim American Life
Moustafa Bayoumi
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781479836840, $89.00, 304pp,

Synopsis: Over the last few years, Moustafa Bayoumi has been an extra in movie 'Sex and the City 2' playing a generic Arab; a terrorist suspect (or at least his namesake "Mustafa Bayoumi" was) in a detective novel; the subject of a trumped-up controversy because a book he had written was seen by right-wing media as pushing an "anti-American, pro-Islam" agenda; and was asked by a U.S. citizenship officer to drop his middle name of Mohamed. Other American muslims have endured far worse fates. Sweeping arrests following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the incarceration and deportation of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, based almost solely on their national origin and immigration status. The NYPD, with help from the CIA, has aggressively spied on Muslims in the New York area as they go about their ordinary lives, from noting where they get their hair cut to eavesdropping on conversations in cafes. In "This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror", Moustafa Bayoumi reveals what the 'War on Terror' looks like from the vantage point of Muslim Americans, highlighting the profound effect this surveillance has had on how they live their lives. To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in an absurd space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In gripping essays, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror" should be a part of every community and academic library collection in the country. That is no hyperbolic overstatement. Not when national politicians seeking the highest office in the land are scapegoating and demonizing one of the major religions of the world because of how a small percentage of extremists are cloaking their horrific and genocidal activities in the mantle of Islam. Christians all too often are forgetting how such small minorities such as the Klu Klux Klan and deviant pastoral personalities as Jim Jones perverted the teaching of Christian to excuse their practices of murder and suppression. For the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Civil Rights issues and the current defamation of the American Muslim community, it should be noted that "This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror" is also available in a paperback edition (9781479835645, $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Civil Rights For Beginners
Paul Von Blum, author
Frank Reynoso, illustrator
For Beginners LLC
155 Main Street, Suite 211, Danbury, CT 06810
9781934389898, $15.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: Unlike most civil rights books, "Civil Rights For Beginners" focuses less on major leaders and more on the ordinary African Americans who provided the backbone of the successful protests and demonstrations. Moreover, "Civil Rights For Beginners" deals with the expressive culture of the movement, surveying key developments in literature, music, visual art, and film, all of which served both as integral features of the movement as well as contributing to its enduring legacy.

Critique: "Civil Rights For Beginners" by Paul Von Blum (Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA) is the perfect introduction for the non-specialist general reader to the American civil rights movement that was fundamental in breaking down race-based the Jim Crow legislation and segregation laws of the 1950s -- a fight that still goes on today with such contemporary movements as Black Lives Matter. "Civil Rights For Beginners" should be considered a high priority addition to both highschool, community, and university library Political Science and Black Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Civil Rights For Beginners" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.95).

Lost and Found Coin Hoards and Treasures
Q. David Bowers
Whitman Publishing
4001 Helton Drive, Florence, Alabama, 35630
9780794842932, $39.95, 416pp,

Synopsis: "Lost and Found Coin Hoards and Treasures: Illustrated Stories of the Greatest American Troves and Their Discoveries" is a richly illustrated book of true stories about lost and hidden treasures. Author Q. David Bowers takes you on an exploration of treasures from sunken ships, blank vaults and reserves, hidden compartments, buried chests and boxes, old safes, hideaways of pirates and privateers, cornerstones, barrels and casks, Mint and Treasury storage, wrecked buildings, caves and crevices, old estates, time capsules, forgotten collections, attics and basements, and other lost and hidden places. These valuable treasures and hoards of American coins had vanished from memory, but now many of them have been found. Some are still missing, and awaiting discovery! "Lost and Found Coin Hoards and Treasures: Illustrated Stories of the Greatest American Troves and Their Discoveries" is your ticket for an exclusive look behind the curtains of time, by a master storyteller and America's best-known numismatist.

Critique: An absolutely fascinating and profusely illustrated read from beginning to end, "Lost and Found Coin Hoards and Treasures: Illustrated Stories of the Greatest American Troves and Their Discoveries" is impressively well researched, written, organized and presented from beginning to end. Enhanced with an informative Foreword, Introduction, Credits and Acknowledgements, Endnotes, and an Index, "Lost and Found Coin Hoards and Treasures: Illustrated Stories of the Greatest American Troves and Their Discoveries" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.

The Triumph of Faith
Rodney Stark
ISI Books
3901 Centerville Road, Wilmington, DE 19807-1938
9781610171380, $24.95, 272pp,

Synopsis: "The Triumph of Faith: Why the World Is More Religious than Ever" by Rodney Stark debunks the myth that people around the world are abandoning religion. Stark marshals an unprecedented body of data, including surveys of more than a million people in 163 nations, to paint the full picture that both scholars and popular commentators have missed. And he explains why the astonishing growth of religion is happening and what it means for our future. "The Triumph of Faith" is full of insights that defy the conventional wisdom such as: Why claims about Millennials' lack of religion are overblown and historically ignorant; Why Islam is NOT overtaking Christianity; How 4 out of 5 people worldwide now belong to an organized religion; How 50 percent have attended a worship service in the past week; Why much-ballyhooed studies from the Pew Research Center and others get the religious landscape wrong; Why atheists remain few despite all the talk of the "New Atheism". As "The Triumph of Faith" shows, secularists have been predicting the imminent demise of religion for centuries. It is their unshakable faith in secularization that may be the most "irrational" of all beliefs.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Triumph of Faith: Why the World Is More Religious than Ever" is as informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists of all Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation, it should be noted that "The Triumph of Faith" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Understanding Jim Crow
David Pilgrim
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629631141, $19.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: A proper understanding of race relations in this country must include a solid knowledge of Jim Crow in terms of how it emerged, what it was like, how it ended, and its impact on the culture. "Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice" introduces readers to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, a collection of more than 10,000 contemptible collectibles that are used to engage visitors in intense and intelligent discussions about race, race relations, and racism. The items are offensive and they were meant to be offensive. The items in the Jim Crow Museum served to dehumanize Blacks and legitimized patterns of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation. Using racist objects as teaching tools seems counterintuitive - and, quite frankly, needlessly risky. Many Americans are already apprehensive discussing race relations, especially in settings where their ideas are challenged. The museum and "Understanding Jim Crow" exist to help overcome our collective trepidation and reluctance to talk about race. Fully illustrated, and with context provided by the museum's founder and director David Pilgrim, "Understanding Jim Crow" is both a grisly tour through America's past and an auspicious starting point for racial understanding and healing.

Critique: Profusely illustrated, informed, informative, unique, and an absolute "must" for community and academic library American History and Black History reference collections and supplemental studies lists, "Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice" is also available for personal reading list in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993
Robert Forbes & Eddie Stampton
Feral House
PO Box 39910, Los Angeles, CA 90039
9781627310246, $34.95, 472pp,

Synopsis: We've all heard about the racist form of skinhead punk music, but little do we know of the groups involved, and how they got involved in right-wing political movements. The collaborative effort of Robert Forbes and Eddie Stampton, "The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993" is the first book on the subject to provide much more than mere photographs of the scene, documenting the bands, their members, the releases, shows, and infamous events. Robert Forbes and Eddie Stampton can authoritatively speak of the movement, obtaining first-hand material from members of the scene. "The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993" covers both British and American bands, and even if you revile the movement, its ideas, and its music, this is an important piece of pop culture history.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993" is the definitive study and highly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century Music History collections and supplemental studies lists. For the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of the political and cultural impact of the white supremacy movement in England the United States, it should be noted that "The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.49).

The Handy Technology Answer Book
Naomi Balaban & James Bobick
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road, #414, Canton, MI 48187
9781578595631, $21.95, 450pp,

Synopsis: Technology pervades our daily lives and modern society, and not just when it comes to computers and smart phones. Before there was the computer, there was the abacus. Before the smart phone, there was the telegraph and ball point pen. Electricity, penicillin, and the compass have all led to revolutionary changes in how we live. "The Handy Technology Answer Book" explains how technology has revolutionized the way people live, work, and play. It covers a broad range of fields, including medicine, mining, buildings, transportation, the military, and agriculture, and how they have been changed by technology. From the relationship between science and technology to nanotechnology, robots, and predictions for future technology, "The Handy Technology Answer Book" presents the latest and historical in an engaging and informative format. It brings well-researched answers to more than 1,100 common questions on technology, such as What are the major time periods of technology? Who is considered to be the first engineer? Which individual was granted the most U.S. patents? What is a Uniform Resource Locator, or URL? What products are made from recycled plastic? Can human beings be cloned? What is the future of wearable technology in health care? And so much more!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Handy Technology Answer Book" offers a wealth of succinct entries and will prove to be a delightfully informative browse from beginning to end. Clearly a "must" for community and academic library collections, "The Handy Technology Answer Book" is an ideal recommendation for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in learning more about the technology that surrounds us and upon which or society and culture are based. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Handy Technology Answer Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

The Reason: It's About More Than Just the Money
Quentin Brent
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439
9781592988716, $24.99, 480pp,

Synopsis: Illicit profits were all part of Zane Donovan's work at a financial firm, but suddenly the stakes change when his family is violently abducted. Following a trail that was never meant to be uncovered, Zane realizes that with Quantitative Easing, the Federal Reserve is doing something no criminal has ever accomplished -- and the catastrophic economic implications are worth killing over. Together with a computer hacker and a seemingly helpful special ops warrior, Zane must decide between exposing the truth and preserving the financial strength of the world. However, only Zane knows the real truth and why it can't be revealed. The Federal Reserve isn't just about money. While it also involves domination and control, it all comes back to one thing -- The Reason.

Critique: A deftly crafted thriller that is as entertaining as it is absorbing, "The Reason: It's About More Than Just the Money" by Quentin Brent is a terrific read from beginning to end and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to any community library collection. Clearly, author Quentin Brent 's a talented master of the genre. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Reason: It's About More Than Just the Money" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Regency Christmas Gifts
Carla Kelly
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603819947 $14.95 pbk / $5.95 Kindle

Synopsis: In "The Lasting Gift", the first of these stories set in Regency England, an impoverished war widow returns a misdelivered parcel and attracts the interest of a well-to-do retired sailing master and his sister. In "Faithfully Yours", a self-made man returns to Scotland to marry the woman he has corresponded with ever since he left as a boy, little knowing the letters were written by another. In "Lucy's Bang-Up Christmas", a man visits the estate of his relatives to comfort his lovely second cousin, who is unhappy that Christmas has been usurped by her sister's nuptials.

Critique: A trilogy of romantic, holiday-themed novellas set in Regency era England (the early 1800's, often thought of as the transition period between "Georgian" and "Victorian" eras), Regency Christmas Gifts is a cozy delight, especially recommended for connoisseurs of historical romance. Regency Christmas Gifts is best savored on a snowy day, with a cup of hot cocoa nearby!

Sally Townsend, George Washington's Teenage Spy
Paul R. Misencik
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786499878, $29.95, 236pp,

Synopsis: Sally Townsend of Oyster Bay was a petite, vivacious, intelligent and remarkably beautiful young lady with beguiling eyes. A 1779 Valentine poem from an admiring British officer reads: "Thou know'st what powerful magick lies Within the round of Sarah's eyes". She was the sister of Robert Townsend, a principal member of the "Culper Ring," General Washington's most effective spy network. During the British occupation (1776-1783), Loyalist and Hessian troops were quartered in and around Oyster Bay, two Redcoat officers in the Townsend home. Sally assisted her brother in gathering intelligence while coyly flirting with the enemy. The romantic interest of Jager officer Ernst Wintzingerode, she dallied with Major John Andre and was courted by Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe of the Queen's Rangers. She paid a heavy price for her role in thwarting the Benedict Arnold treason plot. In "Sally Townsend, George Washington's Teenage Spy" author Paul R. Misencik (a member of the First Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line living history foundation) also explores the possible identity of the mysterious "Agent 355" mentioned in a cryptic Culper Ring message.

Critique: For non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of the American Revolution it should be noted that "Sally Townsend, George Washington's Teenage Spy" is both informative and engaging from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of twelve pages of Endnotes, a four page Bibliography, and a seventeen page Index, "Sally Townsend, George Washington's Teenage Spy" is an impressively well researched and deftly written account that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Revolution reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Get Active
Dale Basye, Peggy Grant, Stefanie Hausman, Tod Johnston
180 West 8th Avenue, Suite 300, Eugene, OR 97401-2916
9781564843654, $21.95, 175pp,

Synopsis: Active learning spaces offer students opportunities to engage, collaborate and learn in an environment that taps into their innate curiosity and creativity. With the rise in mobile learning, personalized learning, project-based learning, and active learning experiences, a more flexible and adaptable learning environment will help to better prepare students for the modern workplace. "Get Active: Reimagining Learning Spaces for Student Success" is a practical guide to inform your thinking about how best to design schools and classrooms to support learning in a connected, digital world. From classroom redesigns to school-wide renovation projects and new building construction, the authors show the many ways that active learning spaces can improve the learning experience. You'll find dynamic case studies as well as exercises and opportunities for reflection. It should be noted that "Get Active: Reimagining Learning Spaces for Student Success" was underwritten with support from Intel(R) Education and Steelcase.

Critique: The collaborative effort of Dale Basye (an expert developer of multimedia experiences for children with more than twenty years of experience), Peggy Grant (an educator with a doctorate in literacy education), Stefanie Hausman (classroom teacher, a teacher coach, a teacher trainer, and a content developer of professional development resources), and Tod Johnston (A classroom teacher for the past ten years with a particular expertise in creating flexible and student-centered learning experiences for elementary and middle school students), "Get Active: Reimagining Learning Spaces for Student Success" is an exceptionally well written, organized and presented instructional guide that should be a part of every academic library's Educational Studies reference collections and classroom teacher's educational skills improvement reading list.

Carolina Writers at Home
Meg Reide, editor
Rob McDonald, photographer
Hub City Press
186 West Main Street, Spartanburg, SC 29306
9781938235184, $34.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: From Beaufort to Boone and a dozen places in between, "Carolina Writers at Home" is a rich collection of true stories showcasing the houses where some of the most notable Southern authors including Jill McCorkle, Nikky Finney, Allan Gurganus, Clyde Edgerton, and Michael Parker have forged their writing lives. The homes in these twenty-five essays range from the classic bungalow and mid-century modern ranch house to wilder locales: a church, a trailer, and a sparsely-inhabited barrier island. Alongside the essays, Rob McDonald s evocative photographs capture the writers in their habitat, preserving their distinct personalities as well as the particular character of the house and place they inhabit. From the simple pleasures of Cassandra King s writing room, to the hilarious and sometimes terrifying intrusions of curious wildlife in George Singleton s realm, "Carolina Writers at Home" is a unique anthology that invites the reader to step inside some of the South s best loved writers private worlds and see what makes their houses truly their own. "Carolina Writers at Home" shows how collections of objects can transform a simple house into Josephine Humphrey's museum or into Daniel Wallace's ark, creating a sheltering place for a creative mind at work. "Carolina Writers at Home" pays homage to those who have taken inspiration from the beauty and singularity of the Carolina landscape and turned it into the written word.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and informative survey, "Carolina Writers at Home" is a compelling read from beginning to end and very highly recommended, especially for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the literary figures most closely associated with North and South Carolina. It should be noted that "Carolina Writers at Home" is also available in a paperback edition (9781938235177, $24.95).

Letters To Isabella
Marley Kaul
Mill Studio Press
4111 Mill Street NE, Bemidji, MN 5660
9780692502310, $30.00, 168pp,

Synopsis: Showcasing the paintings of Marley Kaul, "Letters To Isabella" is fine art book that features 77 vivid color plates on the highest quality archival paper. Presented with captions are seventy-seven egg tempera works each accompanied by a letter written to his granddaughter. "Letters To Isabella" offers stunning full color reproductions of his paintings and is an intimate look at his artistic process and the unique personal and professional influences reflected in his work. In 2003 Marley learned he would become a grandfather. He thought about his granddaughter to be and wondered if he would still be around years from now to tell her about himself in person, or if she would have to speculate about his life and art after he was gone. He decided that in case he was unable to be there when she grew up he would compose a letter to her so she could read it later and know a little more about him. As time went on, Marley got to know his granddaughter quite well, but he continued writing her the letters, filling them with his advice, insights and descriptions of his painting techniques. These letters and the colorful egg tempera paintings they refer to come together now in this vibrant art book.

Critique: A unique and absolutely fascinating art book, "Letters To Isabella" presents and showcases a truly impressive body of work and commentary. Very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Art collections, it should be noted that "Letters To Isabella" would also aptly serve as an example or template for other artists to similarly present their own life, work and insights to a grateful and appreciative readership.

Out of Hand...Out of Mind
Bill Buttle
Master Point Press
331 Douglas Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5M 1H2
9781771400305, $12.95, 120pp,

Synopsis: Comprised of a collection of cartoonist and bridge enthusiast Bill Buttle's 'Out of Hand' cartoon panels which appear regularly in a number of bridge magazines, most notably in the ACBL's monthly Bulletin (the American Contract Bridge League) "Out of Hand...Out of Mind" is his first collection in book form devoted solely to bridge humor.

Critique: A laugh out loud "must" for all bridge players from novice to professional, "Out of Hand...Out of Mind" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular favorite. The perfect Christmas gift for anyone with an interest in cartoon fun in general, and the game of bridge in particular!

Elements of Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice
Douglas Reeves
Solution Tree
555 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
9781936763894, $34.95, 232pp,

Synopsis: Effective teacher feedback is crucial to improving student achievement. Drawing on evidence-based research, the Douglas Reeves (the author of more than thirty books and eighty articles about education, leadership, and organizational effectiveness) provides practical suggestions to teachers, administrators, and school leaders for making the grading process not only more fair, accurate, specific, and timely, but also more efficient. This newly updated and expanded second edition of "Elements of Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice" includes examples, case studies, and opportunities for reflection to facilitate individual and school wide examinations of grading policies. "Elements of Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice" covers such issues as: Evaluating grading systems at all levels from national policies to classroom practices; Strategies for making grading practices fair, accurate, specific, and timely to improve student learning; How the Common Core State Standards impact grading practices and systems; Ways to utilize new technology tools for more efficient grading. It also offers sample grading policies and standards-based report cards, as well as reproducible tools to reflect on and improve the grading process.

Critique: Informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, and comment, "Elements of Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice: 2nd Edition" is very highly recommended for professional and academic library Teacher Education instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for both novice and experienced classroom teachers that "Elements of Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice: 2nd Edition" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.19).

O Canada Crosswords Book 16
Gwen Sjogren
Nightwood Editions
c/o Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9780889713123, $13.95, 232pp,

Synopsis: "O Canada Crosswords Book 16" is latest installment of the bestselling O Canada Crosswords series and serves up an appetizing palate of Canadiana, pop culture and whimsical wordplay. Canadian themes touch on hockey, music, industry and places, and author Gwen Sjogren brings to the table several of her trademark pun puzzles like Money Changes Everything and Fit for a Witch. Seven grids have built-in shapes that enhance the rich flavour of this collection, including circle-in-the-square anagrams and the unique Breaking All the Rules--of crossword design, that is! In "O Canada Crosswords Book 16", crossword expert Gwen Sjogren takes a new approach to some non-themed Canada Cornucopia crosswords as "Challengers" and "Superchallengers" that give solvers a taste of something different. "Challengers" have seven or fewer three-letter answers; "Superchallengers" up the ante with fewer three-letter words and no fill-in-the-blank clues, either. "O Canada Crosswords Book 16" is pack from cover to cover with 100 puzzles, including 67 large-sized grids, O Canada Crosswords and offers a smorgasbord of 11,000+ clues for hours of crossword solving delight.

Critique: Gwen Sjogren is one of Canada's top designers of crosswords having created almost 600 puzzles and published ten books. She has authored O Canada Crosswords Books 12, 13, 14 and 15 as well as the Cross-Canada Crossword series. "O Canada Crosswords Book 16" is one of her best and enthusiastically recommended for crossword puzzle fans, as well as an ideal way to learn about Canadian culture in a fun and novel way.

The Professional Helper
Willie V. Bryan
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398090852, $53.95, 354pp,

Synopsis: The professional helper should be a teacher, a mentor, a motivator and a guide when assisting their clients to find solutions to life situations. Most clients have within themselves the answers to most if not all of their life situations; quite often, what they need is someone to assist them in sifting through and evaluating the various possible responses for a situation. This revised and expanded second edition of "The Professional Helper: The Fundamentals of Being a Helping Professional" provides a basic understanding of the various kinds of helping relationships and characteristics that an effective helper must possess. An overview of the major issues the United States has encountered, and to some degree successfully overcome with the involvement of the helping professional, is presented. Part I covers personal skills that a helper should possess such as understanding self, understanding human behavior, cultural differences, disabilities, religion, and resources. Part II discusses the impacts of the changing roles of helping professionals, roles in cultural evolution, and future challenges for helpers. Part III provides an analysis of theoretical views for helping relationships. A discussion of the theories are provided to enable helpers develop their own professional approaches to helping clients. Other topics include understanding individual and family counseling, preparing the helper to provide the best professional and ethical services possible, a sound understanding of human behavior, how to conduct the helping relationship from the standpoint of process, establishment of goals, and the implementation of these goals. "The Professional Helper" will be a beneficial text to all counseling students, as well as students in social work, human resources, psychology, sociology, and human relations.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Professional Helper: The Fundamentals of Being a Helping Professional" is enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Preface, a four page Name Index, and a thirteen page Subject Index. an ideal instruction manual and guide, "The Professional Helper" would aptly serve as a textbook for academic curriculums on the subject and is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Medical Humanitarianism
Sharon Abramowitz & Catherin Panter-Brick, editors
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247329, $65.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Medical humanitarianism (medical and other health-related initiatives undertaken in conditions born of conflict, neglect, or disaster) has a prominent and growing presence in international development, global health, and human security interventions. "Medical Humanitarianism: Ethnographies of Practice" is comprised of twelve essays that fold back the curtains on the individual experiences, institutional practices, and cultural forces that shape humanitarian practice. The contributors offer vivid and often dramatic insights into the experiences of local humanitarian workers in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas, national doctors coping with influxes of foreign humanitarian volunteers in Haiti, military doctors working for the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, and human rights-oriented volunteers within the Israeli medical bureaucracy. In their respective essays they analyze our contested understanding of lethal violence in Darfur, food crises responses in Niger, humanitarian knowledge in Ugandan IDP camps, and humanitarian departures in Liberia. They depict the local dynamics of healthcare delivery work to alleviate human suffering in Somali areas of Ethiopia, the emergency metaphors of global health campaigns from Ghana to war-torn Sudan, the fraught negotiations of humanitarians with strong state institutions in Indonesia, and the ambiguous character of research ethics espoused by missions in Sierra Leone. In providing well-grounded case studies, "Medical Humanitarianism" will engage both scholars and practitioners working at the interface of humanitarian medicine, global health interventions, and the social sciences. They challenge the reader to reach a more critical and compassionate understanding of humanitarian assistance.

Critique: A seminal work of outstanding scholarship and one that will have an enduring value for academic library Medical Anthropology, Humanitarian Studies, reference collections, as well Medical Disaster & Assistance supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Medical Humanitarianism: Ethnographies of Practice" is also a fully accessible and informative read for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the humanitarian value of national and international provisions of medical assistance in times of national and international crisis.

Thin from Within
Joseph J. Luciani
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814436783, $16.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: Tired of your weight swinging up and down? Do you find it difficult to stick to a diet? You're not alone. Every day, millions of people battle temptation as they try to drop unwanted pounds. For those who succeed, a whopping 80 percent quickly pack the weight back on. "Thin from Within: The Powerful Self-Coaching Program for Permanent Weight Loss" delves into the root causes and reveals that diets alone (whether counting calories or controlling carbs) simply don't work. Why? Because lasting results have less to do with what you eat, and everything to do with why you eat it. To lose weight and keep it off, you've got to retrain your brain. In the pages of "Thin from Within", psychologist Joseph J. Luciani explores the emotional triggers and ingrained habits driving overindulgence, and then shares simple self-coaching techniques proven to control cravings and break the cycle of self-sabotage. Once mastered, these strategies turn healthy eating into an effortless process. Combining insight and inspiration with powerful cognitive tools, this remarkable guide enables you to: Embrace change; Strengthen your self-discipline; Resist the lure of comfort foods; Free yourself from destructive thinking; Replace even the most stubborn bad habits with positive ones; Develop resilience and confidence; Learn from setbacks; Fight food addictions; and so much more. "Thin from Within" offers a permanent weight loss solution that will last a lifetime.

Critique: As informative and practical as it is 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization, and presentation, "Thin from Within: The Powerful Self-Coaching Program for Permanent Weight Loss" is a complete course of do-it-yourself instructions that are safe, effective, comprehensive, and very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Health/Medicine reference collections and weight control reading lists. It should be noted that "Thin from Within" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.49).

Helen Dumont

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Same Moon Shines On Us All: Poems 2004 – 2015
Harald Wyndham
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205
9780937179192, $14.15, paperback, 155 pages

From the joyous, colorful cover art by Linda Wolfe to the words that rest within, Harald Wyndham's fourth volume of poetry is exceptional. In "Another Broken Shell Along the Beach" he asks what every poet or writer ponders: "It is easy to despair. What will remain of this small life?" My answer to that question is, this book will remain. Your wondrous poetry will remain.

On every page, Wyndham takes readers to those dark corners, lost moments, quiet triumphs, sweet joys or memorable places that memorialize a life. He comforts readers with snow-dim dawns, sun washed fields and precious moments of rare peace. And he reminds us of regrets all humans share – good intentions gone astray, the tiny grains of grief that break our hearts, the failures that shatter our confidence. His poems, like the book title, demonstrate our shared world with all its wonders and trials.

I was delighted to see ekphrastic poetry included here. Ekphrasis is poetry written in response to viewing art. Here he chose to write poems based on the photographs taken of Native American tribes by E. S. Curtis. Wyndham's poems are starkly beautiful like the photographs that became his Muse.

Readers will not find cryptic, incomprehensible meanings or high-flown words and phrases in Wyndham's poetry. He shares his heart and history simply, gently, intensely with words we can all understand. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Rudolfo Anaya's The Farolitos of Christmas
Rudolfo Anaya, author
Amy Cordova, illustrator
Museum of New Mexico Press
PO Box 1087, Santa Fe, NM 87504
9780890136102, $24.95,

"Rudolfo Anaya's The Farolitos of Christmas, with "Season of Renewal and "A Child's Christmas in New Mexico, 1944" is a collection of three beloved Christmas stories from the writings of author Anaya, with a poignant introduction by the author in the Preface that ends with these inviting words: "These stories are primarily for children, but I'm sure they can touch the hearts of young and old, parents or grandparents. I describe what Christmas was like during my childhood, maybe because when we are children we most fully participate in the joy of Christmas. I invite you to be part of the Christmas traditions and customs of New Mexico, and let the child in you be touched by the spiritual message embodied in this season of renewal." Newly illustrated by award-winning artist Amy Cordova, these stories convey a warm sense of tradition, cultural values, and the colorful setting of new Mexico and the Southwest. Written primarily in English, the stories are studded with sayings and expressions in Spanish, so the reader and audience are continually in touch with the Hispanic roots of many Southwestern families.

The first story, "The Farolitos of Christmas," tells how a girl named Luz made many special farolitos, or special luminarias made of sand, candles, and paper bags. Luz created the special farolitos to help her Abuelo (grandfather) keep a special vow he made to Santo Nino that he would light the way for the pastores to sing and visit with his piles of pinon logs to make luminarias, or special small lanterns. This year Abuelo was too sick to cut the pinon wood to light the luminarias, so Luz decided to help him keep his vow by creating the farolitos, with the help of her family and friends. The farolitos are finished and hold the light of falling stars in the night, and they help to guide Luz's father, a soldier injured in World War II, home safely to his family. The happy family joined the procession to the church, calling, "Feliz Navidad!" A helpful glossary of Hispanic words used in the story are listed at the end, explaining many special vocabulary words and expressions in the story.

"Season of Renewal" and "A Child's Christmas in New Mexico, 1944" are more stories that celebrate special customs, foods, and songs of the season in the state of New Mexico. The final sentences of "A Child's Christmas in New Mexico, 1944" touches on some of the treasures enclosed: "For everyone the day was a journey to Bethlehem, a return home. That day I was born again in the mystery of sun, snow, earth, plumes of breath, icicles that dripped with the water of the moon as winter sun left its solstice home. That night, as I lay me down to sleep, I would think of the Santo Nino, falling asleep after his first day on earth, dreaming of us who would come later to be born on Christmas Day, as we are reborn cada dia (each day) until the world's end (p. 48)."

The Royals In We Persevere
Joey Dilon and Nicole Chigounis, authors
Andrew Salas, Sonia James, and Joey Dilon, illustrators
Joey's Books
No ISBN, $0.99 ebook,

"The Royals In We Persevere" is a bee-allegory tale set in the fantasy island of Valkonia, with Queen-E bee and her three Royal daughters, Mia, Lea, and Rae-Rae. Issues of impending change, differing abilities, and acceptance of responsibility and confidence, or Bee-lief in themselves are featured in this exciting Bee Royal fable. An exciting tale unfolds, with a windblown isolation from the Hive for the three Royals, deaf Mia, blind Lea, and one-winged Rae-Rae. The three Royal Bee sisters discover that they can cooperate and help each other to overcome their different abilities, and begin to think positively of themselves, and less isolated and selfish. Following, deaf Royal Mia discovers she can smell the whispering winds and lead her two sisters to a safer island far from the industrial ones, with the help of the wings of hundreds of beautiful butterflies. Mia's mantra is "I Bee-Lieve, I Bee-Lieve, I Bee-Lieve in my Bee-Leaf." Magically, the Royals are guided to the new hive home of their colony on the island and have a joyous reunion with their Queen Mum. All three Royals have learned important lessons in cooperation, survival, and sensitivity to the needs of others. Exciting, expressive, impressionistic illustrations of the brave Bee Royals' many Bee adventures provide colorful counterplay to an exciting, inspiring, unusual tale. "The Royals In We Persevere" will be embraced by children age 4 and up.

An additional title by the same author that is also highly recommended is "Catrina Conger The Queen of Design in Seven Lovely Days", which also features strong female characters.

If You Love Honey: Nature's Connections
Martha Sullivan, author
Cathy Morrison, illustrator
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Rd., Nevada City, CA 95959
9781584695332, $16.95,

"If You Love Honey" is a beautifully illustrated exploration of a series of "sweet connections" that comprise the network of natural plants and animals involved in the bees' creation of honey. An exciting, educational book, "If You Love Honey" follows the maze of sweet connections that support the transformation of nectar to honey by the industrious honeybees. The plants and animals featured include bees, dandelions, ladybugs, goldenrod, butterflies, clover, soil, earthworms, mushrooms, oak trees, blue jays, and blackberry flowers. The fact that one third of the food we eat is made possible by honey bee pollination is underscored at the end of the cycle. Children can learn even more about bees, honey, and sweet connections in the section For Teachers and Parents at the end of the book, as well as at,, (Click on "activities"). The lush, realistic colored illustrations cover pages of exciting sweet connections stories, and showcase the contribution of honey bees to living creatures everywhere on Earth.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Millennials In America
Robert L. Scardamalia
Bernan Press
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781598887792, $100.00, 440pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and written by Robert L. Scardamalia (a professional demographer and currently President of RLS Demographics, Inc., a firm specializing in the use and analysis of economic and demographic data for private and public applications.), "Millennials In America" provides a wide range of characteristics profiling the demographic, social, and economic status of the millennial generation. While the Baby Boom generation occupies much of our social and political dialogue, the Millennial generation is actually a larger generation. As the Boomers age, their numbers will decrease while the Millennials will be the driving social and political force in the coming decades. "Millennials In America" has as its focus those born between about 1982–2001. "Millennials in America" is an invaluable source for helping people understand what the census data tells us about who we are, what we do, and where we live. "Millennials In America" will fill an information gap because of the difficulty in extracting comparative data from the Census Bureau's American FactFinder dissemination system. Users will have comparative data in a single reference volume. "Millennials In America" will eliminate the need for the data user to understand and manipulate detailed census data files and consolidate disparate tables in AFF. "Millennials In America" utilizes the PUMS data which is the only source of data that can be used to define precise age ranges for the Millennial generation. The age detail available for census summary data simply aren't adequate for defining the Millennials and therefore prohibit compilation of characteristics specific to this important generation. "Millennials In America" features detailed data on 11 subject areas including race, educational attainment, field of study, income, mobility status, employment status, housing, and more. Each subject area includes data for the United States, the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 622 counties, 331 cities, 381 metropolitan areas and 34 micropolitan areas. Each part of "Millennials In America" is preceded by highlights, maps, and figures illustrating how areas diverge from the national norm as well as differences among areas.

Critique: A truly impressive and comprehensive demographic study that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Millennials In America" is very highly recommended as an essential and core addition to corporate, community and academic library American Demographics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Chicago's Big Teams
Lew Freedman
Firefly Books Ltd.
50 Staples Avenue, Unit 1, Richmond Hill, ON, Canada L4B 0A7
9781770855823, $35.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: Chicago is a 21st-century city that is not only represented by all four major team sports (football, basketball, hockey and baseball) but is also blessed with two long-standing Major League Baseball franchises, one in each league. In "Chicago's Big Teams: Great Moments of the Cubs, Bears, White Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls", author and Chicago sports columnist Lew Freedman offers readers a comprehensive and interesting look into the histories and heroes that have made each franchise tick. In 28 unique essays, "Chicago's Big Teams" unwraps the stories behind the men, moments and circumstances that have forged these great franchises and unforgettable champions. Freedman leaves no stone unturned in the franchises' history, from opening day to current day, and provides snapshots of Chicago legends like Michael Jordan, Ernie Banks, Mike Ditka, Frank Thomas and Bobby Hull alongside tales of franchise curses, Stanley Cup parades, Super Bowl Shuffles and World Series fixes. "Chicago's Big Teams" pays homage to Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field and the United Center, as well as the revered structures that came before them, like Comiskey Park and Chicago Stadium. Packed with more than 150 photos, Chicago's Big Teams is the most comprehensive book on the best of Chicago's professional sports teams and includes profiles of Harry Caray; Eddie Collins; George Connor; Glenn Hall; Rogers Hornsby; Bo Jackson; Jerry Krause; Keith Magnuson; Joakim Noah; Brian Piccolo; Pierre Pilote; Ed Reulbach; Dennis Rodman; Ryne Sandberg; Ron Santo; Jerry Sloan; Buddy Ryan; and Nolan Ryan.

Critique: Simply stated, "Chicago's Big Teams: Great Moments of the Cubs, Bears, White Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls" will prove to be a "must read" for any and all Chicago sports fans and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Sports reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Indeed, "Chicago's Big Teams" would well serve as a template for similar sports histories for other major American cities.

Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation
Robert F. Brands
Bascom Hill Publishing Group
322 1st Ave N, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Brands & Company, LLC.
9781634137300, $24.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: In "Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation", innovation thought-leader Robert Brands introduces readers to the best and most recent thinking of his international network and shows how to permanently implement a culture of Innovation in one's work environment. Brands has led innovation-driven companies around the world, and, on these pages, these international experts share their passion for innovation and the Art of Implementation and provide hands-on tips in an informative and entertaining manner. With "Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation" readers will dive head first into practical techniques to break down the barriers to innovation, whether they are self-imposed or due to external or marketplace reasons. Simply stated, "Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation" delivers a hands-on, understandable, and practical approach to making innovation part of every outfit's DNA.

Critique: Impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented, "Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation" is very highly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Robert's Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Wolf in White Van
John Darnielle
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780374292089, $24.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian (a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail), Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live. Brilliantly constructed, "Wolf in White Van" unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean's life.

Critique: An unusually and deftly crafted novel, "Wolf in White Van" is all the more impressive considering that it is author John Darnielle's debut as a novelist. Inherently absorbing and thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, "Wolf in White Van" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wolf in White Van" is also available in a paperback edition (Picador, 9781250074713, $16.00) and in a Kindle format ($5.99).

Mojave Incident
Ron Felber
Barricade Books
2037 Lemoine Ave., Suite 362, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
9781569802137, $16.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: On the night of October 21, 1989, nine glowing objects appeared over an empty stretch of the Mojave desert, turning a couple's quiet weekend into an unearthly nightmare of terror. Elise and Tom Gifford say they were held captive in their camper by nonhuman creatures - and through love and prayer were able to live through psychological torment as their captors manipulated their minds with telepathic power. The Watchers hovered over them for a day and a night, they say, stealing their thoughts and emotions, making them relive their most painful and intimate memories, bringing them to the brink of madness. Hours later they were alone again, left alive but then the visits continued and the nightmare wasn't over.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Mojave Incident" is a 'must read' for all UFO enthusiasts and an essential addition to personal, community, and academic library UFO reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted "Mojave Incident" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.49).

Apostate Englishman
Albert Braz
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887557781, $31.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: In the 1930s Grey Owl was considered the foremost conservationist and nature writer in the world. He owed his fame largely to his four internationally best-selling books, which he supported with a series of extremely popular illustrated lectures across North America and Great Britain. His reputation was transformed radically, however, after he died in April 1938, and it was revealed that he was not of mixed Scottish-Apache ancestry, as he had often claimed, but was in fact an Englishman named Archie Belaney. Born into a privileged family in the dominant culture of his time, what compelled him to flee to a far less powerful one? Albert Braz's "Apostate Englishman: Grey Owl the Writer and the Myths" is the first comprehensive study of Grey Owl's cultural and political image in light of his own writings. While the denunciations of Grey Owl after his death are often interpreted as a rejection of his appropriation of another culture, Braz argues that what troubled many people was not only that Grey Owl deceived them about his identity, but also that he had forsaken European culture for the North American Indigenous way of life. That is, he committed cultural apostasy.

Critique: An impressively researched and exceptionally well written study, "Apostate Englishman: Grey Owl the Writer and the Myths" by Albert Braz (Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Alberta, Canada) is a deftly organized and presented study which is inherently fascinating, informative, and a work of impeccable scholarship from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library 20 Century Biography, Contemporary Cultural Studies, and Literary Criticism reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists, it should be noted that "Apostate Englishman: Grey Owl the Writer and the Myths" is also available in a Kindle edition ($25.00).

The Ploughmen
Kim Zupan
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9781250074782, $16.00, 272pp,

Synopsis: Steeped in the lonesome Montana country, unyielding as it is beautiful, "The Ploughmen" by Kim Zupan is the story of two men-an aging killer awaiting trial, and a troubled young deputy-who sit across from each other in the dark, talking through the bars of a county jail cell. John Gload is a killer so brutally adept at his craft that only now, at the age of 77, has he faced a long-term jail sentence. Valentine Millimaki, the low man in the Copper County sheriff's department, is the unfortunate soul who draws the overnight shift after Gload's arrest. Soon, though, the conversations between Gload and Millimaki grow familiar, and the troubled young sheriff finds himself seeking counsel from a man he's sworn to keep behind bars, a man whose dark past shares something essential with his own.

Critique: A deftly crafted and absorbing novel from beginning to end, "The Ploughmen" showcases author Kim Zuppan as a major literary talent. Very highly recommended for community library collections where it is certain to be an enduringly favorite addition, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Ploughmen" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Untamed: A Fool's Guide to Surrendered Faith
Jason Clark
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407631, $15.99, 2015, 232 pages

Making Vision a Reality - Embracing God's Promises

In his book "Untamed: A Fool's Guide to Surrendered Faith" Jason Clark invites the reader to join him in experiencing the grand adventure of encountering God, embracing His promises, experiencing His presence, and seeing your vision become reality.

Each chapter if filled with personal stories. Jason tells of taking baby steps of faith, moving through the hurdles of disappointment, misunderstanding, and disasters, to discovering the exhilaration of a revelation of God's love and the power of His promises.

Jason, combines lessons of modern day miracles from a South American MacDonald's parking lot and the results of the affirmative faith to a lesson learned by a New Testament father when Jesus healed a tormented boy possessed by an evil spirit, and tormented by scoffing crowds.

Over and over again I was challenged by Jason's stories of faith to continue dreaming; knowing I would be stepping out, just beyond my capabilities, forced to rely on the Father, trusting Him.

Author, singer, and song writer, Jason Clark is a gifted communicator and natural story teller. "Untamed: A Fool's Guide to Surrendered Faith" is seeking to move beyond "striving" for faith, to "experiencing" abundant life; to move beyond fear, and to live life as God intended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Jericho River: A Novel about the History of Western Civilization
David W. Tollen
Winifred Press
9780985451721, $12.95, 338 pages,

A Magnificent Adventure in a Fantasy World - Combining Myth, Magic and History

Award winning author David W. Tollen incorporates fantasy fiction, myth, and historical fact introducing a new generation of readers to the origins of the Western world in his book "The Jericho River: A Novel about the History of Western Civilization."

When William Gallo, a noted historian, falls into a mysterious comma his son young Jason deciphers a few words and phrases from his father's mumbling that seem to be an ongoing dream revealing an obsession with history and mythology related to one of his earlier expeditions.

The same night Jason has his own dream. When he awoke he found himself transported back to the time of the ancient civilizations of Sumer, Babylonia, and many others with origins in the Middle East. He has been sent on a rescue mission to relocate his father's being, free him, and return with him to the present. The adventures that follow take Jason along the Jericho River from Sumer to Egypt, Crete, and Babylon.

Jason's search takes him on a time line that parallels his father William Gallo's notes from his outline of history; which introduce the reader to an accurate chronological history of Western Civilization.

Tollen has a unique flare for adding pageantry, magic, and mysticism to historical fact, with a fast moving plot, and vivid characterizations. This is an introduction to history for a new generation of teenagers, with a fascinating twist for adult fantasy enthusiasts.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

On Fire at Work
Eric Chester
Sound Wisdom Publishers
167 Walnut Bottom Road, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768408164, $24.95, 256 pages,

Best Practice Strategies for Attaining Excellence in Recruiting, Training, and Retaining High Quality Employees

Eric Chester interviewed over 25 top business leaders to determine how they "ignite passion" in their people without burning them out. "On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out" is a compilation of the information he gleaned through these interviews. The information has been narrowed down to seven categories which today's employers look at as the seven cultural pillars: Compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, acknowledgment, communication, and autonomy.

Chester uses case studies, models, and stories to explore and compare each of these pillars in depth. His assessment and sage advice of the non-negotiable character traits of potential employees is an example of his sensitivity, astuteness, and expertise in the field of behavior leadership, human resources. His writing is clearly articulated and powerfully focused.

A unique and stimulating feature titled "Igniters, Flamethrowers, and Burnout Extinguishers" provides thought provoking questions and related exercises which help the reader keep on target, assimilate the concepts and visualize how to incorporate and apply the principles and examples introduced within the chapter.

"On Fire at Work" is a timely and practical resource for the corporate manager, HR professional, for business leaders in large corporations or small businesses, and is filled with important strategies and concepts for implementation, that will insure excellence in recruiting, training, and retaining high quality employees.

A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Receptivity: Tuning in to God's Voice
Daniel K. Norris
Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407044, $15.99, 190 pages

An Invitation to a Lifestyle of Learning, Listening, Discerning, and Hearing God's Voice

In his book "Receptivity: Tuning in to God's Voice" evangelist Daniel K. Norris proclaims a life changing message which prepares the reader to actively pursue, identify, and hear the voice of God. He challenges the reader to move beyond being apathetic, lukewarm, and complacent to become an uncompromising radical believer and follower of Jesus.

I was captivated by Daniel's powerful stories of miraculous ministry, select testimonies from thousands who received the message of salvation, and physical healing. I was also inspired by examples of spiritual mentoring and passing on the revival message to generation after generation to young evangelists as exemplified by Leonard Ravenhill, Steve Hill and now through Daniel Norris to another generation.

My spiritual eyes were opened to new insights and a clearer understanding of listening for God's voice through seeds of truth while becoming more receptive to His Word. Daniel draws lessons from Jesus' parable of the sower for keys to dying to self, becoming a selfless sower, and how to establish a mindset for drawing near to God.

Daniel's writing is well articulated and spiritually anointed; a must read for those fully receptive to hear and respond to the voice and will of God. "Receptivity" calls on the reader to tune in to God's voice.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Breaking Spiritual Strongholds in Your City
C. Peter Wagner
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407693, $15.99, 222 Pages

Principles, Practice, and Application of Spiritual Mapping

C. Peter Wagner in "Breaking Spiritual Strongholds in Your City" alerts the reader to a new trend toward a movement of the Holy Spirit in preparation of the body of Christ for an unparalleled advance of the Kingdom of God. Wagner maintains that we are in a "new season" for reestablishing the Gospel of the Kingdom and that we are seeing a paradigm shift with an emphasis on the dominion mandate and apostolic church government.

The book is divided into three parts, the principles, practice, and application of breaking the strongholds in your city. George Otis, Jr. presents an overview of spiritual mapping. Cindy Jacobs examines nine strongholds that need to be broken down if we are to experience a fresh awakening in our cities and throughout the nation. Kjell Sjoberg explores the concept and principle of spiritual mapping for prophetic prayer actions.

Harold Caballeros, Bob Beckett, and Victor Lorenzo discuss the practice of defeating the enemy, community deliverance, and evangelizing a city dedicated to darkness. Mark McGregor and Bev Klopp specifically report on the results and application of mapping and discerning in the city of Seattle.

Reflection questions are included with each chapter. These questions help the individual reader assimilate the material and are an important resource for group discussion and classroom applications.

C. Peter Wagner is highly recognized for his leadership in the fields of church growth and spiritual warfare. The other contributors are known nationally and international for their impact on world evangelism and revival ministries. Their writing is clear, informative, authoritative, and the principles proposed have been proven effective.

This new edition of "Breaking Spiritual Strongholds in Your City" is an important resource for pastors, lay church leaders, and adult Bible class teachers in churches throughout the cities of our country.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Hand on the Line: Challenging Men to Follow God's Call
Steve Wisniewski with Jeff Rostocil
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 510, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768408065, $16.99, 296 pages

An Athlete on the Gridiron, and a Gladiator in Facing Spiritual Trials

"Hand on the Line: Challenging Men to Follow God's Call" is Steve Wisniewski's personal testimony of pursuing God with reckless abandon.

The book is packed with powerful analogies comparing the disciplines required for success in sports arena with those comparable spiritual disciplines and the cost of discipleship after becoming a follower of Jesus. He also discusses the similarity of camaraderie and the sense of community among team members and the common sense of brotherhood, unity, and shared devotion among Christian brothers who experience a mutual faith in Christ.

I especially like the "Chalk Talks" feature at the end of each chapter in which Steve asks the reader to consider "pointed questions" regarding handling routine matters like stress, disappointment, or failures. These questions follow the progression of Steve's own faith journey with more probing questions of trust, commitment, finding God's will, and an honest appraisal of personal spiritual progress, counting the cost of obedience, and investing your life in God's service. These questions become an excellent resource tool and can easily be adapted for mentoring, discipleship building, or for men's Bible study groups.

Wisniewski is an advocate for a strong emphasis on the mission of evangelism as evidenced with a bold natural "overflowing" witness. The book is well written, deeply spiritual packed with stories and truths and insight into "football and faith" with practical personal life applications for men of every age and faith. Steve is open, genuine, sincere, and exemplary in his Christian walk.

"Hand on the Line: Challenging Men to Follow God's Call" is a book I plan to recommend to my sons, my brothers, and my friends. It is a powerful testimony of finding and following God's destiny, unique purpose, and life calling.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Snakes in the Temple: Unmasking Idolatry in Today's Church
David Orton
Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768408003, $16.99, 268 pages

Holy Spirit Inspired Revelation - True Biblical Reformation

In the book "Snakes in the Temple: Unmasking Idolatry in Today's Church," visionary and prophetic teacher David Orton challenges his readers to consider the possibilities of reformation, revival, and worldwide spiritual awakening if the Christian Church of today were to restore its Biblical foundations, and to join the next generation in a commitment to see this come to fruition.

The book is organized into three sections. Chapters one through three explore the dream of future revival, while envisioning a spiritual awakening. Section two describes the present realities and a diagnosis of the idolatry found in the church of today. Section three outlines the steps needed for a spiritual breakthrough and a restoration of the glory of the Lord in the church of tomorrow.

Orton draws from spirit breathed scriptures to develop a thorough history of earlier revival in the church, which came about through restoration of worship, harvest, and awakening. He is genuine in his evaluation and in his analysis of the present status and decline of the church.

His conclusions, proposals, call to Holiness, and his prescription for renewal are well thought out, however, they may seem radical to some. Whether Charismatic, Evangelical, or Missional in theological stand, every reader will find practical principles for Christian living, spiritual growth, restoration of Biblical truth, and revival.

A complimentary copy of this book was received for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Jesus and the Jihadis: Confronting the Rage of ISIS: The Theology Driving the Ideology
Craig A Evans and Jeremiah J. Johnston
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768408997, $15.99, 176 pgs

Insight and Understanding into the Theology and Ideology of the ISIS

Professors Craig A. Evans and Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston, New Testament Scholars, and highly respected thinkers collaborate in this important analysis of Mohammad, Islam, the Jihadis, and ISIS, their theology and ideology. They provide the reader with a fresh look at the growing terrorism, domination, threat of atrocities, destruction, and crimes against humanity, all in the name of Allah.

A review of Jewish history beginning with Abraham, their exodus from Egypt, and their conquest of the Promised Land, also details their expectation of a Messiah. They show how the life of Jesus, his ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing explain the reason for His death, and for His resurrection, which gave birth to the Christian Church.

A comparison is made with the origins, traditions, and teaching of Muhammad and the Qur'an, the basis for ISIS aggression, strategies, propaganda, and eschatology. The authors carefully document evidence that substantiate their position that the Islamic State adhere to and embrace the teachings of Muhammad as found in their Holy book and traditions

"Jesus and the Jihadis: Confronting the Rage of ISIS: the Theology Driving the Ideology" is highly informative and serves as a clarion call to Christians to take a stand for their faith, boldly proclaiming the message of Jesus, as the Son of God and the promised Messiah.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Physics of Heaven
Judy Franklin & Ellyn Davis
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407853, $15.99, 192 Pages

Encountering Jesus - A Glimpse of Things to Come

In their book "The Physics of Heaven" authors Judy Franklin and Ellyn Davis collaborate in this amazing exploration of ways the elements of sound, light, energy, vibration, and quantum physics are being used to access a new realm of divine encounters today. The authors draw from interviews with and the writings of highly respected leaders in areas of spiritual warfare, gifts, prophetic dreams and visions, and supernatural experiences in the spiritual realm.

Bill Johnson, Senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California challenges readers to recognize "We have the opportunity to affect the direction and flow of take hold of the future...The future is now, and it belongs to us."

An interview with Larry Randolph, author of "User Friendly Prophesy" discusses Spiritual Synesthesia of how is at work through all of our spiritual, emotional, and physical senses. He believes we are on the verge of experiencing Pentecost on a whole new level.

Other contributors also point the way to multidimensional perspectives with regards to recovering our spiritual inheritance, discerning the authentic, and extracting the precious through a composite of insights discovered as through explorations into new paradigms of reality and a deeper understanding of God's reality.

A complimentary copy of this book was received for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Ultimate Hindsight: Wisdom from 100 Super Achievers
Jim Stovall
Sound Wisdom
167 Walnut Bottom Road, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768409611, $21.95, 272 Pages

Hindsight - Personal Perspectives on Success - Looking Back - As seen through the Rear View Mirror

In "The Ultimate Hindsight," New York Times Bestselling Author Jim Stovall has compiled compelling observations on success taken from personal interviews and correspondence with 100 super achievers, men and women recognized for their successful career accomplishments in the fields of entertainment, sports, business, medicine, law, the military, education, and religion; as well as everyday heroes who have become overcomers, meeting life's challenges, and coming out on top.

In his interviews and correspondence Stovall asked for insight from his respondents in answer to questions of this nature: What are your thoughts on hindsight and what you learned from it that helped lead to your success? What is your viewpoint of success? What does success and happiness mean to you personally? And what do you want to be remembered for?

I was deeply moved by many of the stories that accompanied these responses and how unique influences, experiences, and circumstances the established the life patterns and habits that determined the direction behind each success story.

In the process of reading the book, I noted there were various combinations of core values appearing within three or more responses. I began to filter these through my own set of values, goals, and the things that give me a sense of accomplishment, and satisfaction, that in turn make a contribution to others. Some of these are pursuits that have already become important to me. Others I want to incorporate as additional foundation stones in my own appraisal of success.

A passion for following my dreams, making the most of the moment, and enjoying the journey are all noble goals to pursue. Add to this perseverance, a positive attitude, a persistent faith, and enthusiasm for hard work. Other guidelines include: keep your priorities in order, make a difference, impact others, keep learning from life, obey God and count your blessings. I would like to be remembered as a man of character, integrity, generous, humble and compassionate.

Jim Stovall's life models the lessons he has learned from his association with these leaders and influencers. Readers of all stages in life, and career fields, or those experiencing unique difficulties and circumnutates will be challenged, inspired, and motivated to learn from the "Ultimate Hindsight" and wisdom from Jim Stovall's "100 super achievers."

A complimentary copy of this book was received for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Dalton and the Sundown Kid
Ed Law
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
97814448253677, $20.99, 216pp,

Synopsis: When Dalton rides into Lonetree looking for work, he finds a town crippled by the local bully and outlaw who is called the Sundown Kid. Tasked with resolving the Sundown Kid's kidnapping of a young girl, Dalton must deliver a ransom to the bandit to secure the safe return of young Sera Culver. However, before he reaches the rendezvous point, the ransom is stolen by two nefarious brothers who had earlier upon their first acquaintance sought to drown Dalton. Then a fearsome shootout with the Sundown Kid and his gang leaves him stranded in the wilderness with the life of a badly injured woman at stake, can Dalton fight the good fight and prevail?

Critique: Ed Law is a master of the action/adventure western novel an once again in the pages of "Dalton and the Sundown Kid" has provided western buffs with another terrific roller coaster of a ride from beginning to end. This large print edition of a classic western yarn is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections.

Beyond Matter
Roger Trigg
Templeton Foundation Press
300 Conshohocken State Road, Suite 670, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
9781599474953, $24.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: Does science have all the answers? Can it even deal with abstract reasoning which reaches beyond the world experienced by us? How can we be so sure that the physical world is sufficiently ordered to be intelligible to humans? How is it that mathematics, a product of human minds, can unlock the secrets of the physical universe? Are all such questions to be ruled out as inadmissible if science cannot settle them?

Metaphysics has traditionally been understood as reasoning beyond the reach of science, sometimes even claiming realities that are beyond its grasp. Because of this, metaphysics has often been contemptuously dismissed by scientists and philosophers who wish to remain within the bounds of what can be scientifically proven. Yet scientists at the frontiers of physics unwittingly engage in metaphysics, as they are now happy to contemplate whole universes that are, in principle, beyond human reach.

"Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics" by Roger Trigg (Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and Senior Research Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford) challenges those who deny that science needs philosophical assumptions. In fact, Professor Trigg claims that the foundations of science themselves have to lie beyond science. It takes reasoning apart from what can be experienced to discover what is not yet known, and this metaphysical reasoning to imagine realities beyond what can be accessed.

Critique: Impressively well written and exceptionally well presented, "Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Philosophy collections in general, and Metaphysics supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of both students and non-specialist general readers that "Beyond Matter" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

Murach's JavaScript
Mary Delamater
Mike Murach & Associates
4340 North Knoll Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722
9781890774851, $54.50, 630pp,

Synopsis: Today, JavaScript is used in 89.9% of all websites, including the most heavily-trafficked sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon. That's why every web developer should know how to use JavaScript. The problem is that JavaScript is surprisingly difficult to learn, not only for programming novices but also for experienced programmers. But now, in a fully updated and expanded 2nd edition, "Murach's JavaScript" makes it easier than ever to become an accomplished JavaScript programmer. Section 1 of presents a six-chapter course in JavaScript. This section works for programming novices as well as experienced programmers because it lets you set your own pace. When you finish this section, you'll be able to write, test, and debug JavaScript applications of your own. Section 2 builds on that base by presenting the additional skills that every JavaScript programmer must have. That includes working with arrays and web storage, creating and using your own object types in object-oriented applications, using regular expressions for data validation, and much more. For many developers, sections 1 and 2 will be all that they need to know. But for those who want to move on to the expert level, Section 3 presents the skills that will get you there. That includes skills like how to bulletproof your applications by using closures, namespaces, and modules; how to make your functions more useful by using callbacks; and how to use JSON to transmit and store data. Then, the last chapter in this section introduces you to jQuery and shows you how it can make your JavaScript code even better.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, this new second edition of "Murach's JavaScript" offers a complete course of detailed and thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction in a single volume, making it a very highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Computer Studies instructional reference collections in general, and JavaScript supplemental studies lists in particular.

Mad for Glory
Robert Booth
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884483571, $24.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: In October, 1812, as the 32-gun U.S. frigate Essex ventured out against the British enemy, only one man had any idea that this cruise would turn into the longest, strangest naval adventure in American history. That man was Captain David Porter, who had decided to run off with the navy's ship and its three hundred men to fight a separate Pacific war -- one of privateering, pillaging, and orgies. Drawing on Porter's own writings and the accounts of eyewitnesses, "Mad for Glory: A Heart of Darkness in the War of 1812" by Robert Booth memorably recounts the events of a dark and fatal voyage in which David Porter crosses the line from commander to cult-leader, from improbable fantasy to disastrous reality. In a true historically accurate tale so amazing that it reads like fiction, Porter, impelled by his own demons and by rivalry with the ghostly British buccaneer Lord Anson, took his men and boys on a seventeen-month mystery tour that did not end until he had disrupted the Chilean revolution, captured the entire English whaling fleet (manned mainly by Americans), vanished into the enchanted Galapagos, and re-emerged in Polynesia, where he made himself the conqueror-chief of the stone-age Nukuhivans. In the end, when he sought redemption with a glorious victory over a British opponent, he failed terribly and sacrificed the lives of one-third of his crew to his personal notions of heroism.

Critique: An extraordinary and little known bit of 19th Century American naval history, "Mad for Glory: A Heart of Darkness in the War of 1812" is a compelling read that is exceptionally well written from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American History collections in general, and American Naval History supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mad for Glory" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters
Gale Eaton, author
Phillip Hoose, editor
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884483830, $24.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: "A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters" explores history through a series of thematically linked stories. Of the 50 illustrated narrative accounts of people and events some well-known, others often overlooked that, but together they build a rich connect-the-dots mosaic and challenge conventional assumptions about how human civilization evolved. Author Gale Eaton deftly weaves tales of the disasters that happen when civilization and nature collide. Volcanoes, fires, floods, and pandemics have devastated humanity for thousands of years, and human improvements such as molasses holding tanks, insecticides, and deepwater oil rigs have created new, unforeseen hazards yet civilization has advanced not just in spite of these disasters but in part because of them. "A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters" is dedicated to the premise that history is the greatest story ever told; includes a mix of greatest hits with quirky, surprising, provocative accounts; challenges readers to think and engage; includes a glossary of technical terms; sources by chapter; teaching resources as jumping-off points for student research; and endnotes.

Critique: A novel and effective way to for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in how civilizations were stimulated to evolve in response to traumatic, unexpected, and often horrific disasters, "A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters" is a compelling read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization, and presentation, "A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters" is very strongly recommended for both community and academic library World History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Of immense interest to student and non-specialist general readers with an interest in history, it should be noted that "A History of Civilization in 50 Disasters" is also available in a paperback edition (9780884484899, $16.95).

Otho Holland Williams in The American Revolution
John Beakes
The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America
845 A. Lowcountry Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781877853791, $28.95, 346pp,

Synopsis: Otho Holland Williams in the American Revolution is the third military biography in The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America series on General Washington's best officers. Williams' exceptional military career began at the very outset of the Revolutionary War when, at 26, he joined a Maryland company of rifleman as a junior officer. He participated in the siege of Boston in 1776 and the defense of Fort Washington, where he was wounded and captured by the British during the fierce battle. The Maryland legislature promoted Williams to Colonel of the Sixth Maryland Regiment while he was a prisoner of war, and, after he was exchanged, he commanded a regiment during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. He was sent south in the spring of 1780, and participated in the heroic stand of the Maryland Line at the Battle of Camden. He commanded Nathanael Greene's screening force with skill and daring during the Race to the Dan River early in 1781. Then led his regiments in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina; and at Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs in South Carolina. He was awarded a sword by congress for gallantry in those actions. This talented infantry commander was promoted to Brigadier General after the Battle of Eutaw Springs, which Nathanael Greene called "by far the most obstinate and bloody I ever saw". Otho Holland Williams returned to Baltimore soon after victory in the South was assured.

Critique: Impressively well researched and written, "Otho Holland Williams in The American Revolution" will prove to be an invaluable and much appreciated addition to both community and academic library American Revolution reference collections and supplemental studies lists. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, a thirteen page Bibliography, and a six page Index, "Otho Holland Williams in The American Revolution" will prove to be of immense interest to both scholars, students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the American Revolution.

Camp Olvido
Lawrence Coates
Miami University Press
356 Bachelor Hall, Oxford OH 45056
9781881163572, $15.00, 98pp,

Synopsis: Set in the California heartland in 1932, at a migrant labor camp whose very name means forgotten, "Camp Olvido" is the story of how a child's sudden illness leads to tensions between workers wishing to break camp and the land barons enforcing their contracts. Into this dispute Esteban Alas (a contrabandista and self- styled businessman) is reluctantly drawn as a mediator, until an act of violence forces him into a more tragic role.

Critique: A fully absorbing novella by a true master of the storytelling arts, "Camp Olvido" (the Miami University Press 2015 Novella Prize Winner) by novelist Lawrence Coates is a highly recommended and deftly crafted literary work that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf.

A Privileged Witness
Ted Maher, et al.
New Horizon Press
PO Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
9780882824994, $24.95, 320pp,

Synopsis: Billionaire banker Edmond Safra was a superstar among the world's wealthy elite, until he was mysteriously killed in a fire that consumed his lavish Monte Carlo penthouse. His nurse, former Green Beret Ted Maher, woke up the next morning bloodied and blamed. Now in "A Privileged Witness: The Truth About Billionaire Edmond Safra's Death" Maher breaks his silence about what really happened that fateful night, offering an insider's look into Safra's last days and Ted's ongoing fight to reveal the truth, answering long-speculated questions in this shocking true crime story. The mysteries surrounding Safra's death were complex, with no shortage of potential suspects, from the Russian Mafia to Colombian drug cartels. Disputed events ignited a heated global controversy and threatened to tarnish Monaco's image as a safe haven for the rich and famous. Ted Maher was held solely responsible for the crime. Ted's journey from a dream job on the Cτte d'Azure to a surreal nightmare of betrayal and deception has more levels of intrigue than a blockbuster spy thriller. With details the media couldn't (or wouldn't) reveal, "A Privileged Witness" opens a portal into the luxurious life of the Safras and a hard hard look into the 2,886 days of Maher's ordeal. It's the final chance for an innocent man to clear his name.

Critique: A work of non-fiction that reads like the kind of novel from which block-buster movies are made, "A Privileged Witness: The Truth About Billionaire Edmond Safra's Death" is a compelling and absorbing read from beginning to end. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "A Privileged Witness" is highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Privileged Witness" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

All the Old Knives
Olen Steinhauer
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250045423, $163.99, Paperback, 336 pp,

One day in English Comp, the professor walked in and told our class to write a story solely in dialogue. It was a devilish assignment and put us all to the task. This novel reminds me of that day. The author started out to write an espionage mystery solely within the confines of a lunch between two persons. In a way he succeeds, but not without a little cheating by way of breaks for background and descriptions. Of course, we in our college class could not do that since such material had to come out of the mouths of our characters.

Henry Pelham and Celia ("Cee") Harrison were CIA operatives (and lovers) in Vienna nine years before the fateful lunch. She left to thereafter become a married woman with two babies, living in Carmel-by-the-sea, CA, where the lunch takes place. Each has a secret agenda, Henry to place the blame on Cee for the disaster that took place when the hijackers murdered 120 passengers when their demands were not met; Celia's is not divulged until the conclusion. Meanwhile they continue to chew words and food.

It is an interesting exercise, very much like my and my classmates' efforts way back when. The dialogue is brisk, and the give and take of the two is sparkling. Certainly, the denouement is never telegraphed and the suspense builds. Especially because nothing appears as it seems and the reader continues to be surprised.


A Dangerous Place
Jacqueline Winspear
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062220554, $26.99, Hardcover, 308 pp.,

Maisie Dobbs has led an interesting and varied life throughout the eleven prior novels in this popular series, but now in another chapter of her life she is at a crossroads. Having at last married James Compton and gained a title, becoming pregnant, only to then become a widow when her husband crashes to the ground in Canada while flying a developmental fighter and losing the child as a result. She naturally is deeply depressed. So she goes off to Boston and then India to escape and perhaps gain some composure. But pressure from her stepmother forces her to book passage back to England, a home she does not feel able to face.

As a result of her ambivalence on returning, she gets off the ship in Gibraltar, the last stop before reaching the British Isles. There she begins to regain something of her old self, when she trips over the body of a murdered photographer while walking. Consequently, she becomes embroiled not only in investigating the murder, but learning of the consequences of the Spanish Civil War just across the border, of the intrigues, spies and intelligence agents operating on the Rock.

Working once again, Maisie begins to approach her old self. She even crosses the border into war-torn Spain to cut though the deceptions and artifices surrounding the murder. Each novel in the series has brought us new insights into Maisie's character, and this latest effort, now making a even dozen novels, brings the reader even deeper into her mind and psyche. The descriptions of the battles in Spain may not be another Sun Also Rises, but they serve the plot well and give rise to another objective for Maisie to accomplish before returning home.

A Dangerous Place
Jacqueline Winspear
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9781250045430, $16.00, Paperback, 336 pp.,

Maisie Dobbs has led an interesting and varied life throughout the eleven prior novels in this popular series, but now in another chapter of her life she is at a crossroads. Having at last married James Compton and gained a title, becoming pregnant, only to then become a widow when her husband crashes to the ground in Canada while flying a developmental fighter and losing the child as a result. She naturally is deeply depressed. So she goes off to Boston and then India to escape and perhaps gain some composure. But pressure from her stepmother forces her to book passage back to England, a home she does not feel able to face.

As a result of her ambivalence on returning, she gets off the ship in Gibraltar, the last stop before reaching the British Isles. There she begins to regain something of her old self, when she trips over the body of a murdered photographer while walking. Consequently, she becomes embroiled not only in investigating the murder, but learning of the consequences of the Spanish Civil War just across the border, of the intrigues, spies and intelligence agents operating on the Rock.

Working once again, Maisie begins to approach her old self. She even crosses the border into war-torn Spain to cut though the deceptions and artifices surrounding the murder. Each novel in the series has brought us new insights into Maisie's character, and this latest effort, now making a even dozen novels, brings the reader even deeper into her mind and psyche. The descriptions of the battles in Spain may not be another Sun Also Rises, but they serve the plot well and give rise to another objective for Maisie to accomplish before returning home.

Highly recommended.

The Discreet Hero
Mario Vargas Llosa
Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
18 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
9780374146740, $26.00/29.99 CA$, Hardcover, 336 pp.,

How likely is it that two men living hundreds of miles apart in Peru will interact at some point? Usually such an unlikely event will not take place, but that chance in a million occurs to Felicito Yanaque and Don Roberto. Each: the former, owner of a transport company, the latter a retired general manager of an insurance company, faces different problems.

It all begins when Don Roberto's former boss and friend Ismael Carrera asks him to be one of two witnesses to his marriage to his maid. The event is part of a plan to thwart the efforts of his twin sons to gain a hold on his fortune, and it sets off a maelstrom with repercussions on Don Roberto. Meanwhile, Yanaque is facing pressure from extortionists seeking protection money. Each, in his own way, has to step up to the plate and exhibit the strength and fortitude to live up to his own high standards and not yield to an easy way out.

The novelist, a Nobel Prize Winner, tells a simple tale in plain language. It is an excellent translation. Pulling the threads together in an interesting conclusion, the writing ties together two disparate themes to a unified ending.

Highly recommended.

The Stolen Ones
Owen Laukkanen
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399165535, $26.95, Hardcover, 368 pp,

This thriller brings back Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere. Partners in the newly established joint BCA-FBI violent crime task force, they find themselves in the middle of an international kidnapping and prostitution operation without a clue. The women (and literally girls) are recruited in eastern Europe with glowing promises, shipped in a false compartment in a shipping container, first across the Atlantic and then across the continent. That's the experience of Irina and Catalina Milosovici, Romanian sisters.

At one stop, the driver shoots a police officer, setting off a manhunt but enabling Irina to escape. What follows is a plodding police procedural that requires plenty of sheer luck to catch the culprits and save any of the girls, especially Catalina. It takes the protagonists back and forth from Montana all over the country until they reach the port of entry for bringing the girls to this country, the Port of New York.

The plot, such as it is, is woven to include some violence, especially at the conclusion, during which the culprits, the Dragon, a murderous and greedy criminal, and Andrei Volovoi, the importer of girls and operational man, meet their fate. The story moves quickly along and is smoothly written, and is recommended.

Asylum City
Liad Shoham
Bourbon Street Books
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062237545, $15.99, Paperback, 336 pp

A common misperception about Israel is that its population is mostly white Sabras (Israeli-born) or Russian or middle European immigrants. But nothing could be further from the truth. There is, of course, a substantial percentage of Arabs. And there is a sizable number of Black Africans. That is the basis for this novel, which presents a graphic picture of the African refugee influx seeking asylum in the Middle Eastern nation.

At the same time the plot centers on the murder of Michal Poleg, a volunteer aid worker whose death gives rise to a murder investigation led by Inspector Anat Nachmias, who is confronted by a dilemma: An Eritrean asylum-seeker has confessed to the murder, but she is unconvinced of his guilt. It is up to her to unravel his reasons for the confession since her higher-ups are gleeful to have a suspect in hand.

And thereby hangs a tale told by Israel's leading crime writer, who is a practicing attorney. The story progresses naturally, as the investigation unfolds. Basically, this is a police procedural, but the plight of the refugees is told with startling clarity adding a true-life picture of how they fare once they cross the border and get to Tel Aviv. The only criticism this reader can offer is that the conclusion comes from left field, with no prior basis or previous clues to support it. Nevertheless, it is a tale well told, and is recommended.

Murder on the Champ de Mars
Cara Black
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616952860, $27.95, Hardcover, 320 pp.,

Returning to work after a maternity leave, Amy LeDuc becomes too busy to really care for her six-month-old daughter. To begin with, she undertakes a surveillance job, occupying her evenings. Then she becomes involved in a personal investigation involving gypsies in the belief she can discover the identity of the murderer of her father 10 years before. And to top it off, she has to fend off her former lover who, with his new wife, is attempting to wrest possession of her baby from her.

As in all the novels in the series, this one takes place in one area of Paris, the seventh arrondissnent, home to the Parisian elite, the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides. Such a setting gives the author an opportunity to give the reader a glimpse into the seats of power in the ministries and embassies, the homes and gardens of the upper crust as she pursues her quest to uncover the facts surrounding her father's death.

One criticism: The reader is swamped with too much in the way of couture, lipstick applications and other frilly descriptions which slow down the progress in what is a first-rate mystery. Also, the surveillance seems to be an afterthought, just to prove that the LeDuc Detective Agency actually exists, and is never really developed. That notwithstanding, the novel is recommended.

David Baldacci, Editor
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476762074, $15.99, Paperback, 384 pp,

A faceoff in hockey occurs when two opposing players face each other in a circle or at center ice and attempt to direct the puck to a teammate when the ref tosses it between them. In other circumstances, a faceoff implies one or more forces facing each other, usually in opposition. So at the very least this, the third book to be published on behalf of the International Thrillers Writers, comprising some of the best-known authors of the thriller-mystery genre, whose proceeds fund the organization, is a misnomer.

It is edited by David Baldacci, who wrote an introduction to each of the 11 short stories included in the volume. The idea was to pair each author's iconic protagonist with that of another, cooperating in the plot to solve a crime or mystery. It would not be fair to mention some of the authors and not others, since they are of equal stature. Some of the stories are interesting, others less so.

In facing off, neither the authors nor the protagonist do. They work together, sometimes even beyond the law or ethics. Among the many problems developing stories under the concept includes working out where the two lead characters will operate, since most were domiciled in separate locations, sometimes on opposite sides of the country. Needless to say, the writing and creativity are the result of the top writers in the field. It's just too bad their hands were tied behind their backs by the premise. One would think with the best minds in the business, a better idea could have been developed.

Kill Me, Darling
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Titan Books
c/o Winterfall LLC
9781783291380, $22.99 US / 27.99 CA$ / 17.99 BPS, Hardcover, 241 pp.

Inheriting a mass of unfinished Mickey Spillane manuscripts, Max Collins has undertaken to somehow finish them, completing the work the author left unfinished at his death in 2006. This novel, set in Miami during 1954, begins with Mike Hammer reeling from a four-month-long bender, the result of his secretary/girlfriend having left him with a note effectively saying "so long." A shadow of himself, Mike stops drinking (and smoking), if you can believe it, and drives to Florida to win Velda back.

Instead, he discovers she is hooked up with a notorious gangster. The question, of course, is: Is she acting undercover to expose the person she's playing footsies with, or has she literally become another person. Meanwhile, Mike is sought out by five mafia bosses to kill the man she is living with. Remember, this is Miami in the 1950's, pre-Castro. So there is an element of drug trafficking from Cuba to enliven the plot.

Somehow, some of the elements of a Mike Hammer novel are present in this volume. But on the whole, it just doesn't read like Mickey Spillane. And that is unexpected, because Max Collins has demonstrated an uncanny ability to mimic that original and unique style. He just, somehow, misses here. It still is a good read, however, and is recommended.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning
Bryan Goodwin, Greg Cameron, Heather Hein
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
9781416620884, $23.95, 112pp,

Synopsis: The three collaborative authors of "Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning" identify the 21 responsibilities associated with effective leadership and show how they relate to three overarching responsibilities: Establishing a clear focus keeping the work and the conversations targeted on the issues that matter most; Managing change understanding how to skillfully steer through the challenges associated with making improvements, both large and small; and Developing a purposeful community creating a sense among all teachers and staff that they are invested in student outcomes and that they can make a difference. For each of these areas, key points and specific practices are described in detail and illustrated with stories from school principals who have successfully learned how to become great leaders. Step-by-step tools provide clear guidance for readers who are ready to make the same kind of journey one with the potential to transform them and the schools they serve.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and practical in both organization and presentation, "Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning" is an impressive and very highly recommended read for anyone with a leadership responsibility in any form of educational organization or endeavor. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in content and tone, "Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning" should be considered an essential and core addition to academic library Educational Leadership reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Broad: An Art Museum Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Joanne Heyler, et al.
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791353319, $49.95, 152pp,

Synopsis: The Broad is Los Angeles' newest art museum. In "The Broad: An Art Museum Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro", Joanne Heyler (Founding Director of The Broad and Director and Chief Curator of The Broad Art Foundation) and a team of experts takes readers into the heart of a dramatic, innovative building designed by world-renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro that showcases the museum while providing access to one of the world's great art collections. Built by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, the new museum that bears their name is home to nearly 2,000 works that are among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. With its innovative "veiland-vault" concept, the 120,000-square-foot building will feature two floors of gallery space to showcase The Broad's comprehensive collections and will be the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation's lending library. This impressive and profusely illustrated volume examines The Broad as an architectural landmark and international cultural destination, exploring its history, context, and potential impact on downtown Los Angeles. The volume features eye-popping photographs from Iwan Baan and others that guide readers through the building's extraordinary design. It also includes an illustrated roundtable discussion, led by the celebrated architectural critic Paul Goldberger, as well as an essay by Aaron Betsky.

Critique: A superbly produced and presented coffee-table art and architecture book, "The Broad: An Art Museum Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro" is impressively informative and a superbly organized and presented work that will be of particular interest to students of architecture, design, and modern and contemporary art. The non-specialist general reader will enjoy an 'armchair traveler' experience in browsing through the pages of this exceptionally and beautifully documented exploration of the role architecture had in shaping the museum experience of visitors to The Broad from entry to exit.

My Electrician Drives a Porsche?
Gianni Kovacevic
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626342514, $19.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: A weekend service call changes the life of Doc Anderson forever. Johnny, the surprisingly wealthy energy whiz kid, introduces Doc to a compelling new investment theme -- following the rise of a new spending class. As they set course on a fact-filled adventure, Doc's eyes are opened to the impact that billions of new consumers will have on our environment and how their entrance to our fast-changing world will figure into the economy of the future. Through this journey, he too becomes a hyper-aware participant in the boundless opportunities for responsible wealth creation with his newfound knowledge base in what makes realistic environmentalism possible. Through skilled storytelling and finely illustrated analysis, Gianni Kovacevic will inspire readers to become enlightened participants in the global shifts that will be changing our world for decades to come.

Critique: Exceptionally well written from beginning to end, this fictionally account of very real-world experiences and trends, "My Electrician Drives a Porsche?: Investing in the Rise of the New Spending Class", is especially commended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the impact technology, entrepreneurship, and globalization are having on the American economy in general, and themselves in particular. "My Electrician Drives a Porsche?" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s
Mel Farrell, Jason Knirck, Ciara Meehan, editors
Irish Academic Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9780716532828, $85.00, 270pp,

Synopsis: In the aftermath of World War I, Europe's empires crumbled and a patchwork of new nation states emerged across the continent. As the map of Europe was being redrawn after 1918, Ireland too stood on the threshold of great change. The 1920s were a formative decade for Ireland, both north and south of the border, but this is all too often dismissed as a decade of stagnation. In contrast to this belief, the contributions in comprising "A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s" provide a refreshingly alternative view of this significant decade, all serving to reignite the debate about how modern Ireland was defined and how statehood collided with national identities and allegiances. The relationship between government policy and the emerging state is explored in chapters focusing on Free State election posters, loyalty and treason, the 1923 Land Act, the Irish Farmers' Party, and parliamentary democracy. Additional chapters look at how economic policy shaped the lives of ordinary Irish citizens and continue to have an impact today, long after Ireland's struggle for independence. "A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s" overturns traditional thinking on the formation of the Irish state, the birth of democracy, and national identity in modern Ireland.

Critique: A compendium of ten scholarly articles and featuring a two page Select Biography, as well as a twenty-one page Index, "A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s" is an informed and informative contribution to 20th Century History that is very highly recommended as a core addition to community and academic library reference collections, as well as to non-specialist general readers with an interest in Irish Political and Cultural History supplemental studies.

Rob Leininger
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091638, $27.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: For nine long days, the mayor and district attorney of Reno, Nevada, have been missing. Vanished without a trace. Their vehicles were found parked side-by-side at Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Did they fly somewhere together? They aren't on any flight manifest. Did the two of them take off with a big pile of the city's money? If so, the city accountants can't find it. Were they murdered? There's no sign of foul play. Their disappearances have finally made national news. Enter Mortimer Angel, who'd just quit a thankless job as an IRS agent. Mort is Reno's newest gumshoe, a private-eye-in-training at his nephew's detective agency. Just four hours into his new career, Mort finds the mayor (make that, the mayor's head) in the trunk of Mort's ex-wife's Mercedes. The news-hungry media speculates: Did Mort kill the mayor? Did Mort's ex? As events begin to spin out of control, Mort realizes things have been out of control since the night before he started his new career, the night he found the unknown naked blonde in his bed.

Critique: A terrific and non-stop entertaining read, "Gumshoe" is a deftly crafted, fast-paced mystery novel of the first order and documents author Rob Leininger as a novelist of truly exceptional storytelling talent. A "must" for all hardcore private eye fans, "Gumeshoe" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Gumshoe" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Taking a Stand
Robert Higgs
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
9781598132038, $27.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: In his academic work, Robert Higgs (currently a Senior Fellow in Political Economy for the Independent Institute and the editor of the Institute's quarterly journal, the Independent Review) has dissected the government's shrewd secret excesses that lead to the Welfare State, the Warfare State, and the Administrative State. For several decades he has unstintingly chronicled the federal, state, and local governments' malfeasance in these many areas of life that all levels of government have intruded upon without Constitutional mandate. In "Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy", however, are essays that show a whimsical, introspective, and personal side of this world renowned scholar. From the myth that the government has derived its powers from the consent of the governed to the role of independent experts in formulating monetary and fiscal policy; from the government's duplicity in announcing the unemployment rate in a given month to how the state entraps us, if you want to see a true polymath at work, these lofty, serious, sad, and illuminating essays will educate you beyond what you had thought possible about life, liberty, and the economy.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy" is a compelling and absorbing read from beginning to end. A "must" for students of contemporary American politics, "Taking a Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Political Science and Contemporary Economics reference collections and supplemental studies lists. Fully accessible and commented to the attention of the non-specialist general reader as well, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Taking a Stand" is also available in a paperback edition (9781598132045, $21.95) and in a Kindle format ($10.49).

Wall Street's Think Tank
Laurence H. Shoup
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583675519, $34.00, 400pp,

Synopsis: The Council on Foreign Relations is the most influential foreign-policy think tank in the United States, claiming among its members a high percentage of government officials, media figures, and establishment elite. For decades it kept a low profile even while it shaped policy, advised presidents, and helped shore up U.S. hegemony following the Second World War. In 1977, Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter published the first in-depth study of the CFR, "Imperial Brain Trust", an explosive work that traced the activities and influence of the CFR from its origins in the 1920s through the Cold War.

Now in "Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014", Laurence H. Shoup returns with this long-awaited sequel, which brings the story up to date. "Wall Street's Think Tank" follows the CFR from the 1970s through the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union to the present. It explains how members responded to rapid changes in the world scene: globalization, the rise of China, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the launch of a "War on Terror," among other major developments. Shoup argues that the CFR now operates in an era of "Neoliberal Geopolitics," a worldwide paradigm that its members helped to establish and that reflects the interests of the U.S. ruling class, but is not without challengers. "Wall Street's Think Tank" is an essential guide to understanding the Council on Foreign Relations and the shadow it casts over recent history and current events.

Critique: "Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014" is a masterpiece of documented analysis of one of the most successful influences on American national policy. "Wall Street's Think Tank is enhanced with the inclusion of a three page appendix listing CFR Officers and Directors, 1921-2013; a seven page Bibliography; nineteen pages of Notes; and a fifty-six page Index. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Wall Street's Think Tank" is an essential and strongly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Wall Street's Think Tank" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.61).

Markets without Limits
Jason F. Brennan & Peter Jaworski
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9780415737340, $140.00, 252pp,

Synopsis: May you sell your vote? May you sell your kidney? May gay men pay surrogates to bear them children? May spouses pay each other to watch the kids, do the dishes, or have sex? Should we allow the rich to genetically engineer gifted, beautiful children? Should we allow betting markets on terrorist attacks and natural disasters? Most people shudder at the thought. To put some goods and services for sale offends human dignity. If everything is commodified, then nothing is sacred. The market corrodes our character. Or so most people say. In "Markets without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests", Jason Brennan (Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business) and Peter Jaworski (Assistant Teaching Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business) give markets a fair hearing. The market does not introduce wrongness where there was not any previously. Thus claim asserted by "Markets without Limits" with respect to the question of what rightfully may be bought and sold has a simple answer: if you may do it for free, you may do it for money. Contrary to the conservative consensus, they claim there are no inherent limits to what can be bought and sold, but only restrictions on how we buy and sell.

Critique: Perhaps considered iconoclastic in some quarters, "Markets without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An inherently absorbing and innately fascinating read from beginning to end, "Markets without Limits" is commended to the attention of scholars and non-specialist general readers alike. A core addition to community and academic library Contemporary Philosophy reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted that "Markets without Limits" is also newly available to interested individuals in a paperback edition (9780415737357, $39.95) and in a Kindle format ($31.16).

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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