Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / MBR Bookwatch

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 3 March 2024 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf Diane Donovan's Bookshelf Gary Roen's Bookshelf
Helen Dumont's Bookshelf John Taylor's Bookshelf Mary Cowper's Bookshelf
Micah Andrew's Bookshelf Michael Dunford's Bookshelf Paul Vogel's Bookshelf
S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf Suzie Housley's Bookshelf  

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

Spy for No Country
Dave Lindorff
Prometheus Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781633888951, $29.95, HC, 302pp

Synopsis: At 18 years of age, Theodore Hall was the youngest physicist on the Manhattan Project, hired as a junior at Harvard and put to work at Los Alamos in 1944. Assigned the job of testing and refining the complex implosion system for the plutonium bomb, Hall was described as "amazingly brilliant" by his superiors on the project, many of whom were Nobel Prize winners. But what Hall's colleagues didn't know was that the teenaged Hall was also the youngest spy taken on by the Soviet Union in search of secrets to the atomic bomb.

With the publication of "Spy for No Country: The Story of Ted Hall, the Teenage Atomic Spy Who May Have Saved the World", investigative journalist Dave Lindorff tells the gripping true story of a brilliant scientist whose information about the plutonium bomb, including detailed drawings and measurements, proved to be integral to the Soviet's development of nuclear capabilities.

In the dying days of World War II, defeat of the Third Reich became a matter of when, not if. Tensions between wartime allies America and the Soviet Union began to rise, and things only got hotter when the United States refused to share information on its nuclear program. "Spy for No Country" is groundbreaking study that paints a nuanced picture of a young man acting on what he thought was best for the world.

Neither a Communist nor a Soviet sympathizer, Hall worked to ensure that America did not monopolize the science behind the atomic bomb, which he felt may have apocalyptic consequences. Instead, by providing the Soviets with the secrets of the bomb, and thereby initiating "mutual assured destruction", Hall may have actually saved the world as we know it.

But his contributions to the Soviets certainly did not go unnoticed. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover opened an investigation into Hall, which was escalated when it was discovered that Hall's brother Edward was a rising star of the Air Force, leading the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Featuring in-depth research from recently declassified FBI documents, first-hand journals, and personal interviews, Dave Lindorff uncovers the story of the atomic spy who gave secrets away, and got away with it, too.

Critique: An amazing and true story now ably rescued from an undeserved obscurity by the hard work and exhaustive research of David Linforff, "Spy for No Country: The Story of Ted Hall, the Teenage Atomic Spy Who May Have Saved the World" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in World War II espionage and the Manhattan Project. While unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that this edition of "Spy for No Country: The Story of Ted Hall, the Teenage Atomic Spy Who May Have Saved the World" from Prometheus Books is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.49).

Editorial Note: Dave Lindorff is a veteran investigative journalist, having worked as a Business Week correspondent, Los Angeles County government bureau chief for the Los Angeles Daily News. and later a reporter/producer on Los Angeles PBS station KCET-TV's Peabody Award-winning investigative news program 28-Tonight. Lindorff has won major journalism awards including, most recently, a 2019 "Izzy" award for "Outstanding Independent Media" from the Park Center for Independent Media. He was a two-time Fulbright Professor of Journalism posted at Shanghai, PRC's prestigious Fudan University, and Taiwan's Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung. Lindorff is the author of the critically acclaimed books Marketplace Medicine: Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains, Killing Time: Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, This Can't Be Happening!, and The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office. He writes regularly for the Nation and the London Review of Books, among others, and was an on-camera reporter on the Oscar-nominated documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

The Lock Box: A Novel
Parker Adams
Crooked Lane Books
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781639107032, $29.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Nearly a decade after getting chased out of the Army for fighting back against abuse, Monna Locke's skill and discretion have made her the go-to safecracker for Los Angeles clients who need vaults opened and no questions asked. When a lawyer hires her to retrieve a box from his client's mansion, it seems like an easy payday -- until she opens the safe and is immediately attacked by heavily-armed men.

Locke barely escapes and returns to her isolated cabin only to find the client waiting in her home, threatening what she holds most dear: her son, Evan. After being knocked unconscious, she wakes up across the country, trapped in her own personal nightmare: she and Evan will be held captive until she helps a seedy crew pull off a seemingly impossible heist.

Forced to practice breaking into the most impenetrable safe ever designed, Locke bides her time and eyes her escape routes. She knows there's no way to finish the job she's been forced into, but it's either crack the lock, or lose everything.

Critique: The very definition of a suspense thriller of a crime novel, "The Lock Box" showcases author and novelist Parker Adams having a genuine flair for originality, intensity, and a narrative driven storytelling style that will prove of particular interest to fans of heist/kidnapping themed novels and traditional detective mystery solving. While a highly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that 'The Lock Box" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798874725112, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Parker Adams ( is the pseudonym of Joseph Reid. He was a marine biologist before becoming a patent lawyer who litigates multimillion-dollar cases for high-tech clients. In his spare time, he writes high-stakes thrillers that feature travel and technology, including the best-selling Seth Walker series.

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

The Contraption
Barton Allen Stewart
Independently Published
0978581725, $14.95 Print/$7.95 Ebook

The Contraption is a literary novel that pays homage to life, death, and transformation. It opens in an ordinary neighborhood, where a strange light leads to equally odd events in which a woman transformed leaves her suburban community for a different world. She is accompanied by bizarre folk who escort her into new possibilities.

Before Audrey left, she and the strangers were holed up in her room, draping it in white so that not a spot of color showed. Audrey was not religious, but idealistic. Her relationship with military man Matt is only one of the sacrifices she'd made to suddenly change her course in life. However, Matt is not ready to give up on her.

On one extraordinary afternoon, a set of circumstances evolves a new experience and personality for Audrey (now Prindibin), who becomes mired in a performance that tests her views of reality and the incongruity of her experiences and commitments.

From the moment she answers the door to find three strange women who introduce her to their church and the idea that she is "Ascendant" (for her work with animals and disadvantaged children), Audrey becomes involved in ideas and perceptions that move beyond spirituality and into paranormal realms. These strangers force her, in a manner those who are a familiar part of her life have not, to contemplate new possibilities:

"This visible, conventional life around you is like the outer layer of dead skin cells coating the body. One of them said, "You can do without it!" They told Audrey she had a "glow of radiance" about her which they immediately recognized. These three were eccentric, and following their own drummer, but at times she found them nothing short of fascinating. "Have you ever contemplated your true place in the universe?" one of them asked her."

As she becomes mired in the work of the Church of the Mountain of Radiance, the newly transformed Prindibin makes sacrifices for God, tries to help the persecuted heroes of the church, and carries those around her into new visions and perceptions of miracles:

"All of them thrilled at the thought of it being recognized as a miracle, which would work to the benefit of everyone at the Home Base. Everybody associated with Prindibin could be considered at least fractionally blessed, which would help with advancement. That's if the event stood up to investigation."

The devices which contribute to her reformation resonate on all sides as the church tackles belief systems and the norm, making Prindibin the focal point of change.

Barton Allen Stewart crafts a story that tackles issues of redemption, healing, and change, injecting additional layers of philosophical and existential questioning into the experiences of characters who one day find their lives at a crossroads.

As Matt forces her to examine her new beliefs and their relationship, threads of disparate interests and approaches to life evolve. These create fine introspections on the parts of each character, providing thought-provoking insights to readers.

Libraries and readers seeking stories that take spiritual revelation and revolution a step further into intriguing territory will find The Contraption worthy of not just individual reading, but the pursuit of many different themes in book club discussion groups interested in stories of revelation and shifting beliefs and relationships.

Paris for Life
Barry Frangipane
Savory Adventures Publishing
9780983614135, $28.95 Hardcover/$17.95 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Do you want to go to Paris ? Start here. Paris for Life - Notes from a Lifetime in and out of Paris will take you there for a memorable visit that follows in Barry Frangipane's footsteps as he leaves the beaches of Florida in the 1970s for the allure and promise of the City of Light .

The year Frangipane spent in Paris was not all sweetness and light. He grappled with studying the language, faced (and escaped) terrorist bombings and riots, and worked in the heyday of the tech industry; all while navigating more unfamiliar territory - falling in love.

From the start, a wry sense of humor permeates his explorations, understanding of, and growth in Paris :

"Over a thousand people took my picture during my first hour in Paris . They came by the busload, excited to take a photo, then returned quickly to their buses. Even as I stood on one leg while making faces, their shutters continued to snap. As I waited for more than an hour for my friend Heidi to show up, I imagined each of these tourists upon returning from their vacation in France, showing off their photos of Notre Dame. They would notice me standing at the base of the Gothic arch outside the front entrance, eyes crossed and tongue sticking out, forever photobombing their travel memories."

The first thing that strikes readers is the openness with which the young Frangipane approached Paris culture and experience. His descriptions brighten the sights, sounds, tastes, and fun of the city in a way that armchair readers will appreciate - especially since it captures the feel of youthful enthusiasm and learning:

"When the meal was ready, she said, 'Tonight, we've made a typical Brittany dinner. Cauliflower in a salted butter-and-cheese sauce, crab-stuffed avocado, and fish cooked in a butter-wine sauce. This beurre blanc sauce was invented over a hundred years ago only an hour from here in Saint-Julien-de-Concelles. Jean, pour Barry a bowl of our local cider.'

I navigated the cauliflower with no problem, but the avocado was new to me. At twenty years old, I had never eaten an avocado. It wasn't in my mother's repertoire. But it looked a lot like a crab-stuffed baked potato, so I wasn't really concerned until Jean poked Anne while pointing at me and laughing. Odile could see the confused look on my face as she said, 'In France, we don't eat the rind of the avocado. Isn't it a bit tough?'"

New friendships were honed over multiple courses of French food. New love evolved from the spirited absorption of French culture and byways.

Stroll long the beaches of Paris and its iconic landmarks and streets with Barry. Savor the tastes of ice cream and love.

Many other books speak of Paris . Paris for Life lives it.

Libraries and readers seeking not a historical recap of the city but a personal foray replete with passion and experiential moments should place Paris for Life at the top of their lists. Its ability to translate the moments of wonder and culture that is intrinsic to understanding and appreciating Paris 's many flavors is boundless.

Squirrels in Antarctica
Sari Karplus
Independently Published
9798986029740, $21.95 Hardcover/$13.99 Paperback

Squirrels in Antarctica is a delightful picture book based on a brand-new word game. The zany drawings by illustrator Todd Wilkerson bring a variety of animals and places to life, like the relatively rare (but not impossible) specter of squirrels in Antarctica, hippos cleaning dishes at the kitchen sink, a porcupine riding a bike in Paris (wearing pink), and more.

Young readers and read-aloud adults are invited to enjoy and participate in ideas of the absurd as animals appear well outside their environments and comfort zones to repose, dance, and fly through impossible scenarios.

Kids who enjoy humor, whimsical scenarios, and delightful prompts to imagine all kinds of impossibilities within the world (and beyond) will appreciate the story's vibrant, revealing dance through unlikely scenarios.

Squirrels in Antarctica is highly recommended for its creative perspective, its originality, and its delightful, colorful romp through life. It should find a place on library shelves and in the hands of adults seeking creative, lively, imaginative picture books.

A Change of Location
Margaret Porter
Gallica Press
9798985673456, $15.99 paperback; $5.99 ebook

In A Change of Location, Hannah Ballard's career is her life. Like a black hole, it consumes and overrides everything - even romantic possibilities. Until now.

Margaret Porter surveys behind-the-scenes movie set location manager Hannah, whose knack for finding movie landscapes while remaining nearly anonymous in her efforts creates the perfect lifestyle for her.

Her personal research for a period drama leads her to Somerset and an estate that is flawlessly poised for publicity and success. It seems impossible that Hannah could fail in this job, but she does so epically. She is set to return, tail between legs, in search of something different when an invitation to attend a village festival leads to a very different avenue that redefines the nature of success.

Even though a powerful relationship (perhaps predictably) develops between Martin Latimer, Marquess of Milverston, and Hannah, the forces that divide them are even greater, forcing Hannah to make yet another devastating decision about her future.

Little rests on a staid development of 'happily ever after', as a result, which makes A Change of Location especially compelling for readers who enjoy realistic developments over idealism.

Hannah's ability to navigate and analyze unfamiliar surroundings and people becomes the driving force in a novel that explores her international sojourns, matters of the heart, and the people and places that motivate her to step away from her former successful patterns and into different relationships and milieus.

Margaret Porter is especially adept at crafting the intersections of these lives, exploring how they motivate and change not just protagonist Hannah, but those who circle her world.

The result is a revealing novel of new possibilities and life that covers unemployment, romance, heartbreak, other cultures, and new lives.

Libraries seeking recommendable, realistic stories for patrons who seek enlightening novels will find A Change of Location the perfect ticket for a warm account of movie-making and a dash of personal magic.

Charlie Chaloosy is Often Quite Choosy
Brad Mason, Ed.D.
Yorkshire Publishing
9781960810366, $20.00

Charlie Chaloosy is Often Quite Choosy incorporates a rollicking rhyme in the picture book story of Charlie, who has a problem:

Charlie always seemed to pick,
things he liked the most.
For instance, all he ever ate
was peanut butter toast.

It's not only food that falls into the "everything matters" perception young Charlie holds about life. From clothing to activities, Charlie picks and chooses his desires so narrowly that almost nothing suits him.

Young picture book readers (and parents who choose Charlie's story for read-aloud) receive a gentle lesson in choices and consequences which reveals how Charlie discovers and expands his world.

More so than most picture book stories about choosy children, Charlie Chaloosy is Often Quite Choosy is about the process of growth and its unexpected, welcome results.

Adults seeking to explain the wider options in a life lived not in fear and limited enjoyments, but a broader acceptance of new things, will find Charlie Chaloosy is Often Quite Choosy colorful, revealing, fun, and appealing to all ages. It's highly recommended for both individual and family reading, as well as elementary-level school libraries who will find its colorful character appealing and enlightening.

The Phoenix and the Ant
SMVL Trudeau
Ant and Phoenix Publishing
9781738020201, $10.99 Paper/$3.67 eBook

The Phoenix and the Ant will reach young readers in grades 6-8 with an action-packed fantasy story revolving around a young girl's discovery of forbidden magical abilities and her protective father's efforts to keep her secret from endangering her life.

Wizardry and magic nearly ended the kingdom. This is why Ti-Seta's unexpected development is so dangerous (the popular opinion is that all magic is black). A girl who can transform into a phoenix would be the most threatening specter of all to a wounded kingdom barely recovered from its battles with magic and still focused on seeking out and eliminating its last vestiges and impact from their lives.

Ti's father (a general) is both in the perfect position to save and redirect her and in a terrible bind when his own daughter falls onto the list of bad influences which should be exterminated. And so he does the only thing he can: he sends her away to a prestigious school.

The road to Ti's redemption is fraught with danger because, in order to get there, she must traverse a broken, dangerous land in the company of a dubious crew of individuals. Each harbor their own reasons to confront or support each other and the status quo.

SMVL Trudeau laces his story with thought-provoking insights about individual and group relationships and the choices of a young girl who could theoretically transform and save herself - but chooses not to:

"Slayer had the thought that Ti could just turn into a phoenix and fly out of there with Priot. If they were careful, they could fly all the way to Yaudi on their own. He knew she wouldn't. They were all doing this for her."

These deeper-level inspections of motivation, purpose, ethical behavior and evolving odd friendships may feel unusual for a middle-grade story, but nothing about The Phoenix and the Ant is typical. Its focus on shifting relationships, new realizations, and a physical phoenix challenged with also transforming mentally creates an action-packed tale with an underlay of thoughtful dilemmas that readers will find thoroughly engrossing.

The result is a leisure read adventure that will grip young imaginations, layered with bigger-picture thinking introduced within the action and drama of Ti's struggle to not just survive, but find a place in the changing world where her abilities are accepted.

Libraries seeking attractive leisure reads that can translate well to young reader book club discussion groups about all manner of behaviors and struggles will find The Phoenix and the Ant a powerful story of growth, acceptance, and revitalization that embraces both individual and social change.

The Rise of the Haugenberrys
Zach Boddicker
Daisy Dog Press
9781088210789, $16.99

The Rise of the Haugenberrys represents a romp through depravity, counter-culture experience, and musical circles. It's delivered from the perspective of a spinster who, from the start, presents a wryly ironic, candid assessment of her ability to examine and thwart systems:

"I'm AJ Washburn: spinster, fag-hag, amateur comedy emcee. People like groups of three. Here's another: Doer of Stuff. That's what I've settled on, that's what I tell people, bippity boppity boo. One thing I like to do is receive a free college education."

Through her eyes, the rise of the Haugenberrys band from a dive-bar impulse to unexpected fame comes to life in a vivid and ribald manner that rocks through the world, bringing AJ's schemes into reality on other than personal playing fields.

The wry sense of humor that permeates this story from the start continues as AJ spins her scams and agreeably makes her mark on the world without compromising her role as an encouraging sidekick in the music business:

"We sold out the Lo-Ball last weekend, but it just isn't large enough for a pair of singing, wrestling giants," I said. "They need more room. Some wrestling mats would be nice."

The part about the mats wasn't planned, just kinda flopped out. Gil looked at the ceiling. "Where would you even find wrestling mats? Craigslist?"

As she traverses environments ranging from the Purgatory Ballroom (which once catered to musical giants and now contemplates hosting depravity in a vastly revised form) to producers at NBC and bigger-name obstacles and entries to fame and fortune, readers will find the vivid language, feisty and fearless female narrator, and explorations of the ironies and inconsistencies of the music and arts world to be engrossing.

AJ's drive and personality lends the story a rollicking flavor that rides through life intent upon unearthing nuggets of wisdom and reward alike:

"Was I overly excited about it? Not really, just another stepping stone in a forever of them. I had a month, maybe ninety days, before wrapping up the estate sale, and having to re-acclimate to the doldrums of the normal economy.

"I need a job with benefits," I said. "Health insurance, at the very least. I've got issues."

The result is a tale that is vividly portrayed, engrossingly realistic, horrifyingly candid, and hard to put down.

Libraries anticipating that this novel about the rise of a band will be similar to other musical novels will want to note that, in reality, The Rise of the Haugenberrys is similar to nothing else. That makes it outstandingly unique, unexpected, and highly recommended reading.

Finding Miracles: Escape From a Cult
Andrew LeCompte
Connections Press
9798988748359, $16.95

Finding Miracles: Escape From a Cult joins other literature about the experience of being in a cult and escaping from it, documenting Andrew LeCompte's journey in search of God and those who portend to transmit, reflect, or personify spirituality and spiritual promises.

The first important note is that LeCompte was no casual follower, but an early devotee of A Course in Miracles and David Hoffmeister, who was a teacher of the course:

"I had been a devoted student of A Course in Miracles, a spiritual text published in 1975. I had edited David's first book, Awakening through A Course in Miracles, and done it very well. It had become the central book of his ministry. David's having picked me for that job was proof to me that I was chosen, chosen to help David shape the words of Jesus as they came from his mouth and promulgate them to the masses in books and videos."

His familiarity with the work, its writer, and the belief system structured into and represented in A Course in Miracles provided a seamless journey into the new Utah community of David's Messengers, which promoted severing all family ties and connections with those not members of his following.

The foundations of LeCompte's willingness to join and find a supportive spiritual community play out from childhood onward as he absorbs lessons from his parents and struggles with an empty feeling of longing for love and connection:

"I interpreted the spanking and her silence to mean not only had I done something wrong, but that I was not worthy, not worth speaking up for. My misdeed had exposed and defined who I really was. I felt a huge emptiness inside."

From his lonely pursuit of community and love to the initial promise his work, studies, and newfound spiritual community offered, LeCompte provides a compelling journey. It clarifies the allure of cult messages and why their promises and visions resonate with so many who are also lost, alienated, or longing for love and connection, chronicling how their messages transmit into ugly realities that many won't be able to escape.

From Angel Walks and talks to the components of convictions which weave cult members together and promote ideals and spiritual connections which ultimately can prove dysfunctional and dangerous, LeCompte's reflections, more so than other books about cult behaviors and indoctrination processes, strikes at the heart of what makes such groups both promising and dangerous:

"The Messengers made several beautiful music videos, one of which repeated the idea from the Course "Decide for me." I was continually trying to have the Holy Spirit decide for me."

The result is eye-opening, intensely personal, filled with spiritual and psychological growth and realizations, and ultimately will compel all kinds of readers to examine their own belief and support systems and the structures that promote them.

Libraries seeking powerful memoirs that resonate on spiritual and psychological levels that offer plenty of material for book clubs and meeting groups discussing religious attractions, independent thinking, interests in God, and miracles and messengers will discover, in Finding Miracles, a powerful series of insights that deserve widespread discussion:

"The community took from me but never gave back. I lost my voice, actually had trouble talking for a while, was depressed and suicidal. They did not see me as a person."

Jesus: The Egypt Years
Femi Martin
Independently Published
9798223044406, $14.99

"We've got to answer one question, and the question is, why doesn't the holy family settle down in one place in Egypt ?"

Jesus: The Egypt Years opens by defining the focus of its study with a question that will lead Christians to reconsider what they already know about the history of Jesus and his family's movements.

With so many examinations of Jesus's life already published, it's satisfying to view a new one which reads like a novel, adding description, tension, and insights into the holy family's life using a "you are here" feel that is delightfully original and unexpected:

"Joseph is still worried, even near to paranoia, about the new baby. Even the woman he's married to worries him. If not for the warning from the angel of God, he would have divorced Mary.

"We might find a bed there," he says.

"We have no money, Joseph," says Mary.

Joseph stops the donkey and looks into the bag containing the presents the three wise men gave to baby Jesus. He takes out the frankincense.

"This should pay for our stay."

When the innkeeper sees that they have a baby with them, he takes compassion on them, especially when Joseph says they've been travelling all day with the baby. He looks at the frankincense and sees that it's of superior quality. He's instantly amazed.

"Where did you get this?" he asks as suspicion grows..."

Femi Martin builds an account of the family's movements that follows the birth of a baby and its impact on the family. It reviews the reasons why they moved so much and the early experiences which impacted Jesus and his entire family, building the foundations of faith and influence that influenced Jesus as a youngster as much as the family that surrounded, protected, and nurtured him.

From their attempts to hide from Herod's spies and live on what God provided to the first three and a half years in which Jesus and his family followed a nomadic lifestyle, Martin brings the times and politics to life as the swings of misfortune and danger lead to continual reassessments of safety, belief, and human failings and feelings.

The emotion-laden story recreates Jesus's early influences as the child struggles to understand why they are always running and the forces that overlay his parents' relationship and actions.

This, in turn, will prompt Christian readers to view the holy family in a new, more reflective and understanding light that incorporates a deeper spiritual, psychology, and social understanding of the times than most accounts of Jesus can achieve.

The roots of Jesus's thinking and influences are thus revealed in a manner especially accessible to a wide audience of readers, who will find these reflections perfect for church and group discussion as well as individual pursuit.

Christian libraries seeking accessible, lively, thought-provoking focuses on Jesus which walk the extra mile in delineating the social, political, and cultural influences on his family and life will find Jesus: The Egypt Years especially inviting, well worthy of acquisition and recommendation.

Hackett At Large
Jack Fitzgerald
Victura Publishing
BOCRDXVLRW, $2.99 eBook/$9.99 Paperback

The short stories of fictional reporter Benjamin Hackett in Hackett At Large: Tales From a Reporter's Life in Paris, 1961-1968 represent an exploration of the cultural milieu of that city during a special time in its evolutionary process. They traverse a range of celebrity special interests and survey personalities of the times to provide whimsical and thought-provoking insights.

Take Hackett's introduction, "A Duet With Frank." Here, Benjamin J. Hackett enjoys a Parisian spring in 1961 as he pursues his newspaper column subjects, writing about celebrities and the rich and famous passing through the city in his syndicated column, "An American in Paris ."

His encounter with new Yalie wanna-be reporter Christopher Roberts moves from mentoring to an encounter with Frank Sinatra, who is enjoying a winning streak at gambling while navigating just such paparazzi as Hackett, who would win an interview with him.

As Hackett's life, with its rough childhood, big dreams, and subplot of what led to a flight to Paris (when fame in New York City might have been more logical) makes for an engrossing story of two very different personalities growing through a chance encounter.

In contrast is the dance presented in "Ben Hackett-The Fifth Beatle" as a trio of reporters grows their methods, fame, and success, keeping at-home publisher Sid House at bay while creating opportunities that are personal, political, and fulfill a writer/reporter's dream.

Hackett's uncommon ability to snag interviews with a string of celebrities keeps him employed and in Paris, but his latest encounter during the sizzling summer of 1965 brings his questions into a more personal realm as the Beatles challenge him personally and professionally, in new ways:

"So, when did you stop wetting your bed?"

"Who's said I've stopped?"

The four howl in delight, especially John who cries out, "That's it lad! Dig into the rubbish. More, more!"

The Beatles are enjoying the moment and want to go on and on, but Ben suddenly cuts Paul off. "Okay, okay, boys, now my turn. Let me ask you this: what's the worst thing about being a Beatle?"

General-interest readers will relish the sense of 1960s-era political and social challenges and changes. These embrace the celebrity world that spins fine yarns about achievement and adversity; a feisty reporter that has risen from impossible conditions to achieve unprecedented success; and the social insights and challenges which evolve from his controversial subjects and choices.

However, it's the aspiring reporter who will find Ben Hackett's world the most creative, realistic, and likeable portrait of a fellow professional who delves (with unabashed urgency and cheeky, fearless creativity) into worlds often hidden from reporter eyes.

Jack Fitzgerald specializes in interweaving stories that keep Ben and his readers evolving and confronting new people and situations. Authentic, real personalities, from entertainers to models and politicians, come alive to represent the atmosphere and concerns of the 1960s through disparate eyes and experiences.

For all these reasons, Hackett At Large: Tales From a Reporter's Life in Paris, 1961-1968 is highly recommended for libraries strong in literary short stories that embrace a sense of place, purpose, politic and perspective in different and revealing ways.

Book clubs interested in the entertainment world's past and those who choose to report on and become engaged with its characters, as well as literary readers seeking winning methods of fictional representation in this milieu, will find the wide range of subjects will pique vivid discussions in a collection that romps through Paris's cultural melting pot.

Switching Tracks: Out of the Trash
Lena Gibson
Black Rose Writing
9781685133641, $24.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook/Audiobook $TBA

Switching Tracks: Out of the Trash spins romance and action from a futuristic dystopian setting in a manner that defies any sense of pat categorization as sci-fi, romance, or adventure story. Its ability to break from traditional formula approaches to writing in any of these genres lends its appeal to a wider audience as Lena Gibson follows trash scavenger Elsa, who is barely surviving on garbage in 2195 Southern California when she unearths a dangerous treasure.

The maps promising six Doomsday bunkers laden with food and survival supplies seem too good to be true. It is. Elsa discovers that, along with the maps, there is a dangerous host of competing special interests that all share the objective of locating these bunkers for the same reasons.

As she hops a train to encounter individuals that each operate outside the predatory belief system of the almost-all-controlling corporation GreenCorps, new possibilities arise that, in turn, demand new response and growth from those who would truly reap the benefits of a discovery that leads to not just survival, but real change.

Can a life of misery, slavery, death, and confrontation be changed by a new pursuit? Lena Gibson reveals more than the physical mechanics of switching tracks into a new life as the ragtag group meets, coalesces, shares interests, and develops new paradigms for survival and its ultimate costs and meaning.

The story is rich in hope and a newfound opportunity represented by the promise of a different world and life, which intrigues the characters in different ways. This motivates them to set aside old habits and differences in a rare conjoined effort to do, see, and distribute something new into their worlds.

It's a sense of adventure and interpersonal connection that has long been missing from a milieu in which greed and self-satisfaction have taken over, fueled by corporate control:

"Sounds like fun to explore, like a hunt for treasure."

Excitement built, along with the fluttery sensation inside. "That's how I see it. That's why I couldn't sell the tube, even when we were hungry. It meant opportunity."

While Switching Tracks: Out of the Trash may be chosen for its entertainment value or enjoyed by sci-fi or adventure-seeking audiences, its real value lies in its promise (and delivery) of change and renovation as the characters move beyond shared interests to consider the opportunities both within and outside themselves, to change their worlds and those around them.

Libraries and readers seeking a wide-ranging story of survival and transformation that also holds many topics to pique book club reader interest will find Switching Tracks: Out of the Trash a voracious story of hope, struggle, and challenge that ends with the door wide open for another adventure.

Out of Time
Cathi Stoler
Level Best Books
9781685125448, $16.95 Paperback/$5.95 eBook

Out of Time is a Nick Donahue Adventure that excels in high-octane action as it follows Marina DiPietro and Nick Donahue through a deadly international espionage cat-and-mouse game with ISIS .

It opens with an immediate, alluring bang of intrigue that proves impossible to put down:

"Just ask Marina . If you want to know how I wound up tethered like a sacrificial goat to a flimsy spire swaying in the wind on top of the world's tallest building, maybe she can explain it. Probably tell you I had a special knack for getting into trouble. And, she'd be right."

Will Dubai be Nick's last living memory? Not if Marina can help it. After all, it was her case, to begin with. Nick's initial plan to tag along to keep her company fails when he finds himself the focal point of events that have led him to this shocking moment in time.

Cathi Stoler personalizes her characters in a manner that needs no prior introduction to either Nick and Marina or the Middle East scenarios and challenges which absorb their energies and test their survival abilities.

This attention to character detail, melded with atmospheric observations that provide a "you are here" feel to readers, enhances the action and suspense as the tale unfolds, adding a depth missing from too many genre thriller and mystery reads.

Like Dick Francis's writings, a racehorse is involved. Marina is charged with exposing potential attackers who would exact a ransom to keep the horse safe. It turns out that the story is about much more than horses, because ISIS is involved, and their objectives center on far more than famous horses.

The scenario of an evolving threat that will spark a world crisis builds Marina and Nick's objectives, from an individual assignment to an effort to save the world from a deadly terrorist plot.

The clues Nick must cobble together come from contemporary references and characters that at first seem unlikely threats. One of the joys of this story is how these insights come together, moving from social observation to political revelation:

"That was the trouble with social media. Everyone wanted to shout about what they were doing, where they were going, and who they were screwing, without realizing what the consequences could be. I couldn't believe how easy it had been. I found this guy within minutes and here he was telling all. He assumed I actually had a job offer and had already accepted it. Not too smart on his part. But Klingons? He was probably a twenty-five-year- old who must have watched Star Trek reruns. How did it relate to the project he mentioned? I thought about the Starship Enterprise and its battles with the Klingons. Suddenly, I got it. I ran to the rear cabin and woke up Marina . "I know what they want, and it's worse than we imagined."

The result is a thriller that excels in action-packed revelations, twists and turns, and in depicting the tests of Nick and Marina's best abilities as the clock ticks down on world peace and human survival.

Libraries and readers seeking exceptional stories that hold the possibility of reaching well beyond traditional genre readers with the powerful one-two punch of superior characterization and plot will find Out of Time hard to resist.

From Hardship to Hope
Judith Gwinn Adrian and Jaylin M. Stueber
9781595989604, $18.95 Paper/$9.99 eBook

Fictionalized, shared autobiographies are rare, but there is perhaps no other form which would prove as alluring and hard-hitting as From Hardship To Hope: Crossing The Great Divides Of Age, Race, Wealth, Equity, And Health. Written during the siege of COVID and exploring the parallel, diverse belief systems of Zoe and Ruby Blue as they navigate individual and shared experiences, From Hardship To Hope creates a lesson in connection and choice that is transmitted against the backdrop of some of the most challenging plague years humanity has ever experienced.

The "autofiction" blend is connected and enhanced by drama and fictional devices of expansive setting and psychology as Zoe and Ruby Blue reflect some of co-authors Judith Gwinn Adrian and Jaylin M. Stueber's experiences.

Through their shared insights and collaborative efforts comes a story fraught with insights about prejudice, social reaction, change, justice, and philosophy. It takes a world-transforming virus a step further by entering the lives of a group of people who were transformed by COVID and the world changes it introduced.

COVID's disruption introduces characters (based on reality) that might never otherwise have met - pregnant, homeless, Black teen Ruby Blue, who is temporarily housed with Zoe, a White, aging widow. Zoe's privileged heritage contrasts heavily with that of Ruby Blue, whose incarcerated husband and life reflect a very different reality.

At first, their differences take over as they meet and clash.

Introductions by both authors explore the birth of not only shared connections spawned by ideals that didn't match at all, at first; but a unique collaborative process that gave them much while demanding their time and participation:

"Something I noticed throughout this project was that as our characters grew, so did we. Why? Because their growth allowed us to learn from each other, particularly through our more uncomfortable conversations. It was hard to write together at times because we are both passionate about our stories and sometimes it is difficult to hear the other person out when it is your truth."

When the story opens, Ruby Blue feels herself completely alone, with her man absent and the baby growing inside her. Her sense of being alone dovetails powerfully with Zoe's introduction, which explores the process of aging and becoming 'invisible':

"...wrinkled, gnarled, and desexualized, I visualize myself liquifying, watching the rhythmic blue pulse when my hands are still. No question I'm invisible to most people, even though the pulsing in my veins infers life. A still dignified, withering creature, I am blandly Midwestern and genetically British. I do know how to sit with grace, one leg behind the other to lower myself into a seated position, gently as a flutter, sitting with decorum and gentility. Whether erect posture is useful at my age is questionable, but it is a carryover; taught as one of my parents' many family-honored decrees."

Readers can't help but be fascinated by both the contrasts and the similarities between these seemingly disparate lives, which extends into new realizations and transformations that wouldn't have been possible without COVID's intervention in seemingly set destinies.

Book clubs seeking autofiction that reflects values, beliefs, and individuals who struggle with changed lives will find From Hardship To Hope an immensely powerful discussion point that surveys social, political, and racial issues using a compelling duet of voices.

Libraries will want to both include and highly recommend From Hardship To Hope to a wide audience (including book club discussion groups) seeking powerful, memorable stories that both resonate and stand out from the crowd with a literary, social, and philosophical prowess rarely observed in modern fiction.

Florida: Poetry and Prose
Glenn Erick Miller
Independently Published
9798865384595, $3.99 Paperback/$.99 eBook

From the birdlife in Florida 's rookeries and rivers to the gators in its rivers, and the sense that nature is always shifting our feet, Florida: Poetry and Prose provides a rooted glimpse into humans' conjoined relationship with nature. This will delight both residents of that state and those who would feel its tides and currents from afar.

Glenn Erick Miller creates a vivid collection of poetry solidified by prose pieces to bring this ever-changing milieu to life, using language that is evocative and dynamic. Many are unexpectedly surreal visions, as in the poem 'Harvey Keitel Drives':

Harvey Keitel drives,
misses a turn,
and we end up at the wharf.
We rumble over rotting planks,
dodge lazy pelicans
and fat tourists,
clam bars
and Florida-sized margaritas.
I blink, and we're back on the parkway.

The tastes of sandalwood, sun, and singular events create and serve up the unexpected as Florida becomes a backdrop to death and growth:

I'm in the back again,
falling behind again,
searching for stairs
or a slope of sand -
some way up.

From going out on precipices and taking risks, outlined in 'Daredevil' ("Depth is just/another/kind of height,/but height/is nothing/with a net./So I am a net,/but not for catching.") to the poem 'Sweat' which explores)"...the zenith/where you spy the hammocks/and the herons/and the Gulf/and the churning storm), this sense of place is firmly rooted both in Florida's mercurial atmospheres and the follies and fears of human effort to change them.

The prose portion works to ice the cake of experience with two stories that reflect characters who navigate Florida 's culture and its nature, making for a conclusion which provides intriguing insights into the survival process:

"The beagle led the way up the side of the house, past a row of pineapple bushes that Iris had planted beneath the kitchen window. Surrounding them were several other exotic tropical plants, none of which Ed liked. To him, all plants in Florida looked like aliens, about to strike out with bright, fleshy tongues. And in the rising winds of the storm, the plants jumped and gyrated, making them even uglier."

The result celebrates, defines, and captures slices of the Florida experience from the perspective all of its residents, both human and wildlife.

Libraries seeking a literary collection that reveals new layers of Florida's environment and human culture will find Florida: Poetry and Prose a welcome synthesis of all of the state's undercurrents, whether they lie in climate change, natural evolution, or human affairs.

Andria Stone
Independently Published
9798864317914, $10.95 Paperback/$4.99 eBook/$19.95 Audiobook

THE K5 PROTOCOL: A Science Fiction Techno Thriller lives up to its promise of sci-fi intrigue, opening with a bang of action as the introductory scene depicts a dilemma: "Four men lay dead, and the Earther feared he would never get off Xobos alive."

Being stalked by not-quite-human beings on an alien world is bad enough, but Earther Flint Maddox also struggles with himself when he stumbles upon his best friend, dead in a cornfield, which triggers a neural implant he was unaware of.

This implant has long waited for this moment of awakening.

For Marshal Flint Maddox, the internal force leads him to realize that his friend's death was due to aliens who have kidnapped his friend's daughter, as well. His realizations send him off Earth on a hunting expedition that leads him to deputize a posse of four androids, steal a spaceship, and realize that his new awakening is only the beginning of a new persona and motivation to not only get the girl, but dig out the roots of a dangerous plot.

Thriller readers who don't normally read sci-fi will find the high-octane action of the suspense format translates as well into space and alien affairs as it does on Earth.

Sci-fi readers who typically eschew genre thriller reads will find the magic formula here lies in an approach which is anything but predictable formula writing, injecting space missions and realizations about the Vekonis race with intersections between would-be rescuer and captors. These takes many unexpected twists and turns as Sofi and Flint find their pasts intersecting with new opportunities in this very strange future.

From Flint's entry into the warrior's life as he confronts the Vek (which leads him to find that physical torture, humiliation, and blackmail work even with alien races to provide the "trifecta of persuasion") to bigger-picture revelations that motivate Flint to move beyond his role as a concerned uncle to become a world-saving superman, readers receive a satisfying special blend of ingredients that make this story thoroughly compelling and hard to put down.

Libraries seeking supercharged tales that skirt the definition of 'sci-fi' and 'thriller' with a technological thrust of intrigue and the unexpected will find THE K5 PROTOCOL worthy of acquisition and recommendation; especially to patrons who are widely read in either genre that think they have seen everything.

They haven't. THE K5 PROTOCOL dashes into unexpected territory and departs with the prize of excellence.

The Secrets of the Hidden Workforce
Lisa Toth
Yorkshire Publishing
9781960810403, $20.00

Lisa Toth's life work revolves around helping individuals with disabilities find meaningful jobs that contribute to the workforce in effective, positive ways. The Secrets of the Hidden Workforce follows her other writings and radio show, revealing how to find purpose and meaning in work. It offers a program and insights that any worker can utilize to further identify their own goals for work and leisure.

The Secrets of the Hidden Workforce provides a blueprint to understanding the secrets of work satisfaction and contributions. It is also a memoir of how Lisa Toth created an agency to inspire people, then moved into a job coaching people with developmental and other disabilities. She successfully juxtaposed her personal ideals, philosophy, and approaches to life and work with the concrete results discovered and promoted in her company and workforce counseling.

Toth's insights about how her desire to help others created a new career path will particularly engross readers who look for ways of giving to others while making a living.

Her insights on caregiving, creating positive scenarios, and contributing in different ways acknowledge the obstacles and successes of her efforts:

"My experience in caring for Violet led me to think about the importance of positive caregivers in my own life - for example, when I was ill and needed some personal care for myself. I found that it makes a difference when someone who is doing something for me has a truly caring attitude. If they do not, I hate what they are doing; if they do, I appreciate that they truly want to care for me. This personal reflection on caregiving helped me realize that I always want to make the people in my care feel they are truly being cared for."

This is how a book that purports to be about career, work, and meaningful contributions evolves into bigger-picture thinking that proves essential for all these efforts and more. This is also why The Secrets of the Hidden Workforce offers a wide-ranging series of insights that ideally will form the foundations for many a lively book club, business, or psychology discussion group.

Libraries who choose The Secrets of the Hidden Workforce expecting another business book about jobs will be pleasantly surprised at the broad reach of Toth's subjects. They range from not just accepting but supporting diversity and the disabled to how to tailor, create, and tap a workforce that may need extra support, but returns the effort in uplifting ways that change the entire business internal culture.

The Secrets of the Hidden Workforce is very highly recommended for all these reasons, presenting a standout approach and philosophy that's easy to absorb and engrossingly supported by case history examples and personal insights.

The Cat Tender
Martin Drapkin
Three Towers Press
c/o Henschel Haus Publishing
9781595989635, $16.95

Meet Maggie Mullen, an independent woman nearing her thirties who, in The Cat Tender, has built a comfortable career (as a catsitter) and patterns (nightly soaks in her clawfoot tub with kitty Lucy at hand and Frank Sinatra wafting music into the air).

Perfection never lasts for long, as Maggie discovers when an invitation to her younger sister's wedding demands her attendance, her prowess in giving the happy new couple a toast, and requires her to depart from her cat-infused lifestyle to enter alien realms of social interaction.

Maggie wonders why so many women feel incomplete without a mate, asking thought-provoking questions that book clubs following women's writings will find perfect for debate:

"I don't get all this seeking out someone to have a relationship with...Or maybe we're just hard wired to seek out and have mates in order to keep the species going...Maybe we should be more like birds. Maybe instead of all this furious seeking to couple up with whoever - straight, gay, other variations - people should just sing out to one another when they want or need a partner, short-term or long-term. There could be different tunes for different purposes."

As the wedding offers Maggie new revelations and opportunities, the threads of humor Martin Drapkin employs wind through the story to add a delightfully whimsical accompaniment to the wry inspections Maggie makes about couples, love, events, and her place in the world.

The Cat Tender is especially recommended for libraries seeking lively, cat-infused examinations of independence and women's lives, and for book clubs looking for discussion material about couples, connections, and careers, as seen through the eyes of a maid of honor who considers weddings a "pain in the ass."

Dreams of Drowning
Patricia Averbach
Bedazzled Ink Publishing
9781960373175, $18.95 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Dreams of Drowning is a work of magical realism that opens in 1973 Toronto where Amy, an American expat, is hiding as an illegal immigrant following her twin sister's death by drowning.

Her chance meeting with Arcus, a Greek student, holds the possibility of romance, but they each harbor secrets they're hiding from each other.

Fast forward to 1993, where retired archaeologist, Dr. Jacob Kanter, is grieving the loss of his wife while trying to avoid his son's plan to place him in a nursing home. Remembering his love of sailing as a youth, he boards a ferry boat expecting a short harbor cruise, but the mysterious ship traverses time leading his story to merge with Amy's in unexpected ways.

As their relationship evolves, Jacob and Amy become involved in the mystery of a second Phaistos Disc, an ancient Greek relic that may hold the key to both their futures. This involves readers in a mystery of historical and psychological importance that leads each character to reassess their experiences and intentions in a new light.

Different losses, different kinds of grief, and the remarkable legacy of Greek history entwine with both characters' lives in unanticipated ways. Patricia Averbach grows a story that leads Dr. Kanter to connect the dots of history and personal events while Amy finds unexpected portents of change in a whispered promise that leads her to reassess her sister's death and into the water toward a reenvsioned future.

"This year you'll go swimming, and you'll find her well. There's healing in the water."

Libraries and readers seeking evocative novels steeped in mystery, magical realism, and healing processes will embrace the vivid imagery and sense of revelation and discovery that make Dreams of Drowning a surreal, compelling read.

Brothers in Service - Through Thick & Thin
Lindy Bell
Day Agency Publishing
9781736560440, $18.95 - Paperback/$ 4.99 - eBook

Brothers in Service - Through Thick & Thin is the second book in the Beyond the Badge series, which tells of three best friends who move away from childhood to accept jobs in the fire and police departments.

Each character receives in-depth examination by Lindy Bell, who not only reveals the actions and requirements of service in these jobs, but creates demons, dilemmas, and growth experiences that test the secrets and mettle of each young man.

The "you are here" focus evolves from the start:

"He didn't fit. No matter how hard he tried, Riley Sullivan just didn't fit. With the ambulance siren wailing overhead, he tried one more time to make room for his long legs in the cab's jump seat. He never thought riding in an ambulance would be this uncomfortable."

Bell takes the time to build a sense of place, personality, and predicaments that both draw the friends together and threaten to move them into new areas with obstacles that challenge their long-term friendships.

She develops characters and career challenges for each, creating growth experiences and opportunities that lend to each friend's ability to navigate not only their personal conundrums, but the art of maintaining long-term relationships and friendships through it all.

From new career opportunities to personal losses that test and demand camaraderie on a different level, Brothers in Service - Through Thick & Thin examines the fine art of effort and recovery. It paints a moving portrait of how adult friendships can be tested even if they rest on the foundations of loyalty and shared respect.

Between its realistic, accurate portrayal of the fire service and situations which range from sexual harassment at work to mentors, superstitions, and how diverse personalities can maintain close friendships even when life circumstances threaten to tear them apart, Bell has crafted a winner, here.

Libraries and readers interested in close examinations of male bonding, service career choices, and life growth processes will find Brothers in Service - Through Thick & Thin both a satisfying sequel to the first book in the Beyond the Badge series. It's a powerful, highly recommended, ongoing exploration of ability, different kinds of relationships, and dealing with life challenges that also reveals nuances of tackling careers in service.

Titan's Tears
Chad Lester
Independently Published
9798989612116, $18.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook/$29.99 Hardcover

Fans of techno-fiction that look for sci-fi embedded with elements revolving around genetic engineering will find Titan's Tears a powerful suspense story that will attract thriller genre readers as well as sci-fi audiences.

The gothic intrigue opens with a snowy night and a young mother with a newborn who makes the hardest choice of her life: leaving her baby at a hacienda where others will care for her.

Fast forward to grown-up daughter Belle, who is residing in Alaska post-singularity and who faces her uncertain roots and the knowledge that a special power may reside inside her.

How did she come to be thirty, unemployed, and stuck in a remote Alaskan village where nobody will talk to her? The roots of attraction lie within a plot that thickens as it probes Belle and her world.

Chad Lester creates a powerful saga of transformation, challenge, and evolution by painting his picture through the eyes of not just Belle, but Seth, Sophia, and other characters that move back and forth in time. These shifting viewpoints and time frames are identified in chapter headings, which make their transition points smooth and uninterrupted as a terrifying truth takes hold in the reader's mind.

The unexpected is often delivered with a wry dose of comic relief:

"As she gazed at the painting, she heard a creaking sound. Something moved beneath her feet. The floor was shifting. Startled, she stepped back. The large fireplace twisted to the side to reveal a hidden chamber beyond. Mr. Dearborn motioned for her to come in. "Forgive the theatrics, but I always wanted one of these."

From buried bunkers to an equally well-masked reality, Lester plays out his story with such easy transitions between action-packed events and character discovery that readers will remain engrossed throughout.

Libraries and readers seeking powerful introductions to the newly blossoming 'techno-sci-fi-thriller' genre will find Titan's Tears a great example of superior writing and powerful plot development. Its characters live and breathe a new reality in a dangerous near-future where work, murder, and the rise of the machine coalesce in unexpected ways.

A Fishy Tale
John J. Jessop
9781735817873, $11.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

A Fishy Tale blends comedy with a murder mystery designed to keep readers both laughing and intrigued. It opens with this wry humor:

"Tod Carlson and his brother Bill, professional fishermen known as the Carlson Brothers, had heard from kinfolk that record-sized fish were being pulled from Smythe Mountain Lake . Tod figured that was why the Blue Ridge Bass and Beer fishing tournament had over two hundred registered participants this April. The Carlson Brothers never missed this tournament, the event's slogan being If you don't catch a bass, there's still plenty of beer."

Then it probes the murky waters of murder as the trials of a contentious (but affectionate) marriage merge with a move and discovery that keep Dr. Jason Longfellow (PI and amateur sleuth) and nurse wife Chelsea on their toes.

Jason may be a problem-solver, but an adequate boatsman he is not. John J. Jessop displays more humor as Jason attempts to navigate treacherous new waters. Boaters will recognize both the terminology and effort involved in captaining a vessel:

"Jason aimed Luscious between the two front pilons, moving very slowly. This was the first time he had put the boat on the lift. Chelsea heard him counting under his breath, a sign that he was stressed and upset about the near crash. The man in the other boat sat watching. Chelsea put her hand on Jason's shoulder and squeezed gently. "Jason, you can do this. It's just like parking a car, only not."

What do you do when you inherit a fortune? You fulfill your dreams. For Chelsea, this lies in not just making a move, but creating her own business: Chelsea Longfellow, PI, and Associate. Their first case (that of a murderer who is targeting fishermen at night) is a serious one because the future of the Blue Ridge Bass and Beer Tournament is as much at stake as their reputations.

The unexpected blend of boating and fishing experience, murder mystery, and wry inspections of marriage and watery circumstances, with the humor overlay, works very well. These elements create a compelling story that should entertain even readers who do not normally choose comedy or murder mysteries.

A Fishy Tale's ability to cross lines of discovery while leading with laughter makes the story engrossing, unpredictable, and fun as the search for a murder suspect embraces a community in turmoil.

Libraries seeking murder mystery reads that lure and capture readers with unpredictable, novel approaches will find A Fishy Tale perfect for recommendation both to those who enjoy exceptional murder tales and others whose interests lie beyond the norm.

The Science of Energy
Payman Sattari
Pragda Press
9798989627516, $29.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paperback/$14.99 eBook

The Science of Energy blends scientific with metaphysical and philosophical inspection as Payman Sattari examines the nature of reality, the impact of the observer, and the results of applied metaphysics on worldviews.

If this sounds like New Age quasi-scientific thinking, be advised that The Science of Energy is not just theoretical. Within its examinations of DNA, atoms and cells, and the concurrent development of science and philosophy lies a grounded approach to inquiry that will please readers that normally eschew metaphysical thinking:

"It is intuitive that mind has something to do with the dance of matter that surrounds us - that it is involved somehow. But what it is and how exactly it fits in is not so clear. To deepen our understanding of the mind's place within the overall order, we must begin by identifying it."

As Sattari moves through elements and themes in scientific and philosophical discovery, readers receive a reasoned and methodical discourse that will especially lend to group discussions among science and new age circles alike:

"We must be absolutely clear in that, despite the fact that this branch of science studies "life" and not the inanimate objects of physics, it still does not deal with the reality of the subjective observer. Biology is still concerned with life at the physical level and studies the behavior and composition of living cells in much the same way that physics studies atoms. Mostly, it is concerned with function, composition, and behavior. Even still, certain aspects of living organisms fundamentally set them apart from the universe of the inanimate. One of the most visible of these is the will."

By linking science to metaphysical and philosophical approaches to life, Sattari forges new ground in examining how memory and identity dovetail with scientific and metaphysical pathways to realization.

The result is an accessible, enlightening, thought-provoking series of insights that libraries strong in either scientific or metaphysical thinking will find not only highly recommendable to patrons, but to book clubs interested in creating discussions about connections between the material world and inner being.

Mirror Tree
AnneMarie Mazotti Gouveia
Atmosphere Press
9798891321519, $28.99 HC, $17.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle

Middle grade fantasy readers who enjoyed Book 1 in the Drifters Realm series will find Mirror Tree a captivating adventure story. It's centered around twelve-year-old triplets and an older brother who embark on a journey, armed with magical backpacks, to stop the supernatural Guardians who are ruled by their uncle.

More than an action story of magic and confrontation, however, Mirror Tree includes insights into growth, issues of right and wrong, and tests of not just courage, but mettle, as the siblings confront rising evil forces, themselves, and each other.

Young readers who think that AnneMarie Mazotti Gouveia's second series title requires familiarity with the first book would be mistaken. A list of characters and their relationships and abilities opens this story, allowing kids to browse the impressive list of people and powers before delving into battle presented in the book's opening lines:

"A teenage boy screamed desperately in the dark, "Help Me!" as Roe ran through Drifters Square, her pale green eyes blinking wildly while tears streamed down her face from the smoke-filled air."

Sacred rings, trapped lions, and legendary lost libraries come into play, challenging each of the characters not only by outward circumstance, but through inner mandates to address changes and new opportunities.

Roe well knows that "There was no room for secrets in this quest they were on." And, yet, each harbor secrets that might kill them all.

Gouveia creates a powerful story of truths and big secrets that need to be uncovered and dealt with. Mirror Tree is an absorbing quest tempered by a series of discoveries that tip the young adventurers into new opportunities portending peace and hope.

At the end of the story, the path forward is clear and the door more than ajar for the next confrontation.

Libraries seeking compelling leisure reads for middle grades will find Mirror Tree a fine accompaniment to the first book in the series, offering the kind of high-octane action, paired with psychological, moral, and ethical inspection, that will give young readers plenty to discuss and consider.

Spilled Ink & Coffee Stains
MK Standby
Yorkshire Publishing
9781960810199, $5.99 eBook

Spilled Ink & Coffee Stains is a poetry gathering that narrows the lens of life observation to a close inspection of the roots of pain, pleasure, and transformation that lie in everyday experience.

Quite simply, this translates to a collection that begins with birth, juxtaposing pain and pleasure:

A tune held ?
of summer kisses and winter heartbreak
in the heart of the grieving widow.
And in the founding breath of a newborn,
a song to the air of life.

MK Standby's writings are often accompanied by coffee stain images capture the intricacy and irony of this life/death interplay:

The darkest days still linger in the shadows of my
I see them in tangled bed sheets and broken sleep,
a film playing on repeat behind tired eyes -
wakefulness a welcome reprieve.

The free verse pieces are succinct, yet hard-hitting. Often, the message is delivered in a few short sentences.

As Standby navigates new relationships, different beginnings, and observes life's anguish and ecstasies, the collection assumes a powerful, uniform impact of stories and notes that tell of "summer love and winter heartbreak."

The result is a collection perfect for reflective readers of free verse modern poetry. It holds equal ability to examine matters of the heart and society with an equally close microscopic lens of focus wound into literary poetic structures that invite and surprise.

Libraries seeking powerful examples of literary life explorations will find much to recommend in Spilled Ink & Coffee Stains, which should ideally also be highly recommended to book clubs seeking succinct, thought-provoking poems especially suitable for a coffeehouse setting.

The Odyssey of Mrs. Naomi Billingsley
Sally Stevens
Atmosphere Press
9798891321281, $16.99 (pb)/$8.99 (ebook)

The Odyssey of Mrs. Naomi Billingsley follows one woman's solution to a staid Midwestern lifestyle - create a vivid fantasy world in which action and adventure intersect with reality, to spice things up.

What evolves (instead of drama) is a concurrent immersion in colorful fantasy imaginings which pique the interest of her psychiatrist, who envisions that Naomi's oddities will make him a celebrity in the psychology world. And so he explores this milieu with her with both healing and personal fame in mind.

Dr. Birnteller has a wall full of degrees and acclaim. All he needs is one big break to make him famous. Noami represents that break... but only if he can tame or cure her.

As events unfold, patient and physician find themselves on the wrong side of sanity as Noami's world-building method of coping with boredom enters into reality itself to affect the good doctor and others around them.

Readers, too, are carried into uncharted waters as they enter Naomi's creations, which Sally Stevens vividly portrays:

"In no time at all, it seemed, Mrs. Billingsley along with the entire congregation, the rest of the deacons, the hand-bags and Bibles, and the folding chairs were floating in the new sea that had suddenly relocated itself remarkably close to Mayfield. As the floodwaters pushed everything and everyone farther out into the waves, Mrs. Billingsley saw, looming on the horizon, a gigantic creature, a huge black whale, dramatically rising from the water, its jaws poised in a wide-open position. It occurred to her that perhaps she should alert someone to the situation, but then she remembered. It was probably all part of the plan."

The good doctor's life also begins to change in extraordinary ways, and he comes to admit that the arrival of Naomi Billingsley as a new patient might have changed many things intrinsic to his own life and sense of reality:

" wife said to me, 'Armando and I are flying to Lisbon tonight, Leonard. I wish there were time for you to get to know him, but life is short and I know him pretty well, so I'll vouch for him. I know you'll be fine... I know in your heart you care deeply for me. It's just your medical training that's gotten in the way of our having an intimate relationship. I thought if you met him, you'd feel better about all this.' Lisbon, for God's sake... my wife doesn't even speak Portuguese.

"But then…then she said, 'There's a meatloaf in the oven, and I made your favorite Jello mold. I can see you're upset, Leonard, so Armando and I won't stay for dinner. Perhaps a little "time out" would be good for you.' And Armando picked her up... PICKED HER UP... and carried her out the door. He came back for the suitcases in the hallway, and then they were gone."

Reality and fantasy clash on the playing field of mental illness or health and recovery that seems not just dubious, but perhaps not the best treatment option. Readers receive a lively discourse about relationships, panaceas for boredom and predictability, and extraordinary methods employed to evade uncomfortable truths.

Stevens does an excellent job of juxtaposing emotional responses and questions of mental acuity as events unfold to test both characters in a dance between fantasy and alternative world-building. (Or, perhaps it is reality, simply unobserved until now?)

The strong characterization and unpredictable adventures that rise up to enfold both characters also will attract readers interested in fiction that enlightens while maintaining an extraordinary atmosphere of discovery.

The Mystical Symphony
Judith Bowen
Atmosphere Press
9798891321014, $16.99 Paperback/$25.00 Hardover/$6.99 eBook

The Mystical Symphony: A Memoir of Healing, Vision, and Wonder is a healing journey of growth. It follows Judith Bowen's transformation into a seer when her visions send her from conventional church wisdom and thinking to follow her own mystical path of revelation.

Her first vision appeared when she was fifteen. In it, Bowen discovered the promise of a new way of incorporating faith and sacred elements in life that drove her to grow, spiritually and emotionally, in new directions.

From the start, Bowen cultivates a candid assessment of a world and community initially anchored by the Lutheran Church . As her life begins to revolve more and more around health and healing challenges, readers receive insights into the adversity/recovery process. This injects a different tone of inspection into the metaphysical component to enhance the mix.

As her life unfolds and moves between childhood and adult realizations, readers will appreciate the contrasts between different forms of growth:

"I knew clearly by the age of ten that I would leave as soon as I could. I knew that the place where I lived was not enough. I did not have the words then, but my heart knew."

From different churches and involvements to insights about spiritual music and its impact, Bowen creates revelations that will prove invitingly thought-provoking to a wide audience of readers that may come from different religious and life experiences:

"Hildegard von Bingen, especially her music, lingers in me through these many years. I remember the first time I heard her music, how it soared and flowed through my body in silver-and-gold streams. The feeling was very close to the shimmering light and flow of energy that I felt when I was fifteen."

The resulting tapestry of psychological and spiritual movement will delight libraries seeking memoirs that are highly recommendable to spiritual thinkers. Its powerfully compelling revelations prove accessible, interesting, and deeply reflective.

Blood of the Father
Donald E. McInnis
J&E Publications
9798986551630, $18.95 Paperback/$6.99 eBook

Few authors are in a position to as realistically portray the challenges of being a lawyer as lawyer/author Donald E. McInnis. That is why Blood of the Father is a legal thriller filled with rare, vibrant descriptions that will especially resonate with readers already familiar with the legal system. Its protagonist, A.J. Hawke, represents many of the dilemmas McInnis also faced as a young lawyer, which will feel familiar and eerily realistic as the story unfolds.

San Diego County Supervisor and mayoral candidate Katherine Pansky bursts into Hawke's office unannounced, with a demand that he represent her - and a confession that she's shot her senator husband for raping their teenage daughter.

There's only one problem. The evidence suggests otherwise.

As Hawke delves more deeply into Katherine's request and motivations for obscuring the truth, he finds himself facing an increasingly dire series of conundrums that leads him away from lawyer work and into the role of a crime investigator working against his own client's confession of murder.

Drew Hawke obtains his early trial and makes his case, but the clock is ticking down on his ability to uncover and present the truth to the court.

The story adds to the A.J. Hawke, Attorney at Law legal thriller series, but also stands alone as an outstanding story that blends political, legal, and crime scenarios in an atmospheric and compelling series of twists and turns that challenge Hawke in unique ways.

Readers who enjoy thrillers that examine legal proceedings such as defense-killing strategies and maneuvers will find the in-court and out-of-court descriptions engrossing and the unexpected developments satisfyingly unpredictable.

All these elements lead Blood of the Father to be highly recommended to libraries; both those harboring the prior Hawke series titles and newcomers seeking stand-alone, strong legal thriller writing.

The Sheriff
A. M. Linden
She Writes Press
9781647426286, $18.95

The Sheriff is Book 3 in the Druid Chronicles series. It will best be appreciated by prior readers of the Chronicles, who will find this book a vivid story of Stefan, a young Saxon peasant in early medieval Britain who has battled his way up to being captain. It is then that he discovers that his military might has not earned him the commendation he expects, but an actual demotion when his wealthier rival pulls political strings to take his position.

Now appointed as sheriff and relegated to Codswallow (a poor shire far, far away), Stefan faces a hostile town that prior sheriffs have struggled with, finally to give up and leave.

When he joins in a search for a vanished princess from the kingdom next to theirs, Stefan finally sees an opportunity to regain status and fame - if he can solve the mystery of the princess's disappearance.

While A. M. Linden's story can stand alone for newcomers, ideally it will be chosen by prior series readers for its ability to embellish upon and expand the atmosphere, purposes, and politics of the times. Its social and political insights come not just from Stefan's viewpoint and encounters, but from others around him:

"The innkeeper had known, even as the brigands were riding off, that the sheriff's intervention was a reprieve, not a rescue. Still, given enough time, the bandit overlord's temper would cool, and his wounded feelings might be salved by a sufficient increase in the extortion he was being paid, so Jonathan had been on the verge of congratulating himself that he'd cheated death again when the two messengers arrived from the capital, looking for the sheriff."

The result is a powerful saga of 'profane passions' and encounters that will keep readers on their toes as they walk through Stefan's world and realizations.

Libraries and readers seeking a vivid story soaked in both medieval history and fantasy, replete with action and thought-provoking realizations, will find The Sheriff a powerful compliment to the series.

Breksta's Academy
Natasha Quay
Ensisheim Partners LLC
9798218229467, $14.99

Breksta's Academy is a teen coming-of-age fantasy centered on Breksta Vilkas, who has enjoyed an idyllic childhood in a small village where friendships and support systems abound. That is, until soldiers arrive and cause her mother to flee with her from the only home Breksta has known.

When she is taken from her mother and forced to become a cadet in an academy, Breksta faces a completely alien environment alone, without the support systems she has enjoyed all her young years.

Natasha Quay spins an intriguing story that follows Breksta's evolution as she hatches a plot to make a bid for freedom with her roommate Hestia when a new blanket of terror not only thwarts their dreams, but portends a deadly outcome fueled as much by the secrets Breksta's mother has kept as by the vastly revised circumstances she now faces alone.

Quay's ability to craft a compelling character and dilemmas grows a vivid story as Hestia is subjected to a process to remove any memories of her friendship with Breksta, leaving her with an "unquestioning loyalty to her mother and the Academy." How can Breksta confront this situation?

The questions of self-esteem and growth juxtapose with Breksta's growing realization about her life and the secrets behind her upbringing, giving young adults a vividly dramatic story that brings the protagonist and her world to life.

Libraries seeking fantasy recommendations for young adults which embrace themes of growth and self-empowerment will find Breksta's character strong and her dilemmas unpredictably action-packed.

The Woman Who Forgot Who She Was
Vivian Probst
Lifemark Press
9798370392856, $12.99 Paper/$2.99 eBook

Readers of literary women's fiction, romance, and psychology will find The Woman Who Forgot Who She Was a powerful story. It centers on successful bank president Avery Victoria Spencer, who finds that her success isn't enough to stave off the aftermath of a trauma that has left her with dissociative amnesia, leading her to forget her husband and prior life.

His appearance marks the unwelcome return of reminders of the past, which he can recall (with hurt) and she cannot (with healing).

This shakes the foundations of who she thinks she is, arriving simultaneous to a financial conundrum that threatens everything she's tried to build in her new life, despite her glaring lack of memories about the past.

The result is a reemergence as Avery is forced to connect the dots between past and present to find out who she truly is (which lies somewhere in-between two worlds).

Vivian Probst creates a powerful saga of self-discovery which mirrors many a woman's attempts to connect to a deeper authenticity to better focus and fuel their careers and personal connections in the world.

Avery serves as a mirror of ambition and effort, moving from an initial accident that leaves her not knowing who she is (yet wanting to die) to the facade of success in a new life which still harbors too many ghosts from the past to prove either viable or sustainable.

Readers introduced to Avery's dilemmas and husband George's own anguish about the events which drove her from his arms will find much bigger-picture thinking a plus in the story. Each character evolves and slowly comes to accept one other, the past, and the answers and treasures which come from confronting guilt, self, and the future.

Probst follows Avery's journey with a thoughtful hand to exploring the dynamics which prompt old pain and debts to re-emerge in unexpected ways and places, there to fester and encourage both new pain and revised opportunities.

Many of Avery's experiences will lend perfectly to discussion groups interested in how women survive trauma, grow, reinvent themselves, and create purposeful new pathways in the world.

As the first book in a four-part series, The Woman Who Forgot Who She Was is an immensely powerful introduction to all kinds of growth-oriented themes which will surprise and delight readers with its depth and drive towards financial and mental prosperity.

Libraries seeking literary works of women's fiction which do more than scratch the surface of self-empowerment will find The Woman Who Forgot Who She Was highly recommendable to patrons and book reading groups that seek examinations of growth and change, powered by relationship currents that take unusual turns.

The Woman Who Fell Out of Fear
Vivian Probst
LifeMark Press
9798489223126, $12.99 Paper/$2.99 eBook

The second book in the Avery Victoria Spenser Fables series moves from the despair and anguish portrayed in the first tale to a more celebratory sense of the outcome of discovery and transformation. It represents a perfect dovetailing of time, place, and personality as protagonist Avery continues to address, make discoveries about, and repair the emotional traumas of her past, observing how they reincarnate in present-day events and experiences.

Avery is, in many ways, triumphant about her vast discoveries and healing process, depicted in the first book (which covered her transformational realizations). However, discovery often comes with the price of a bone-cutting weariness as manic energy wanes and a quieter despair and recovery process sets in.

Suddenly, the emotional reserves which seemed limitless and relatively untapped prove that they have their limitations, after all. Avery may have preserved her place as a much-improved bank president - but at the cost of emotional pleasures in life that lead her to view the world in a bleaker light.

Vivian Probst mentions, in her introduction, that putting together Avery's story was like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Readers will enjoy the exploration of emotional and social puzzle pieces that lead Avery in more unexpected directions as she puts together past and present to evolve different options and interests for her future.

The strength of the story lies in this process and in the insights that come with finding a new place she can call home - even if she doesn't quite know where that space resides, and cultivates new interests and habits in response.

As she ponders what will happen if she doesn't host her promised and much-anticipated charitable events, Avery takes the next steps into a new life, which involves "...casting off falseness and self-loathing, which are masks that you wore because you did not know" as she enters into the tough proposition of becoming a Ruler of Your Own Life.

The life lessons, connections, and challenges she experiences are an intrinsic part of growth. Avery confronts the fear and limitations which have held her back, so readers will find much to think about and book clubs receive many subjects suitable for debate on a range of topics, from women's empowerment to the dual challenges of romance and growth.

Libraries seeking a multifaceted novel that both stands well alone and furthers and compliments the first book in the Avery Victoria Spencer Fables (The Woman Who Forgot Who She Was) will find The Woman Who Fell Out of Fear powerful and a compelling acquisition.

The Woman Who Found Her Fire
Vivian Probst
LifeMark Press
9780975342299, $12.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

The third book in the Avery Victoria Spencer Fables series, The Woman Who Found Her Fire, further investigates the impact of unresolved past trauma on present-day romance as star-crossed lovers Avery and George face the aftermath of a breakup and continue to struggle against trauma's lasting impact on their perceptions and choices.

Once again, Vivian Probst has created a masterful interplay of characters and juxtapositions of traumas, recovery processes, and roads to realization and empowerment which do not come easy. Indeed, the cost in relationship impact may be more than both Avery and George can navigate as they aspire to successful outcomes, both individually and as a couple.

Probst's passionate voice resonates through the story as Avery finds herself in unpredictable circumstances, from demonstrating kindness to a complete stranger to testing her ongoing love for George against all odds.

As with the previous series titles, a host of related issues about women's empowerment (both internally and externally) come to light:

"Avery knows how hard it was for her to become a bank president. All a guy had to do was be in the right pecking order. She had to run circles around these guys; it had taken pressure from her friend Evelyn and some media promotion to make it. Avery resents that inequality."

The themes that drive Avery's self-image, achievements, ability to love and give, and drive to survive and thrive her past, come to light in different ways that ultimately propel her into new directions.

The result is another compelling addition to and expansion of Avery's life and transformations. The Woman Who Found Her Fire is highly recommended to a wide audience, from libraries seeking hard-hitting insights into women's lives and issues to psychology discussion groups about trauma's effect on life and love, and book club and reading groups interested in a powerful psychological profile of growth.

The Woman Who Forgave Herself
Vivian Probst
LifeMark Press
9781735513416, $12.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

The fourth book in the Avery Victoria Spencer Fables series, The Woman Who Forgave Herself, is a powerful, logical conclusion to a series steeped in discovery. It continues to follow Avery through past and present life changes as an old photo forces her to confront the damage from a past trauma that has impacted her future.

Believing these crushing events were all her fault, Avery heads out in a rainstorm and, distracted, is hit by a car. She winds up on life support, where the choice between life or death is presented by the Angel of Life, who argues that she still has much opportunity and work in remaining in this life, even as Avery makes a case for leaving it and starting over with a clean slate.

As in her prior books, Probst leads readers through a series of tough questions, difficult answers, and unexpected realizations as Avery faces perhaps her biggest challenge of all: acknowledging her part in causing pain, while forgiving herself for her errors and omissions.

When Avery confronts George about who he really is and faces her own much-revised life, readers learn about giving and forgiveness. Avery absorbs new knowledge that forces her to consider George's past and the part she played in impacting his life.

Regrets and transformation work hand in hand as Avery grows physically and mentally, continuing her work on herself by acknowledging her impact in the world and on important choices.

As Life confronts Death and makes a case for Avery to continue her journey, readers receive a powerful study in contrasts and possibilities that will fuel their own self-examinations about choice and change. Meanwhile, as George finally faces his own unresolved agonies, he, too, must decide his fate. Now that both remember, each must choose what 'for better or worse' means. Be prepared for an unforgettable conclusion.

Libraries and book clubs will find that each book in this series can operate alone, but is best absorbed as a unit of growth and discovery. Each fuels and furthers discussions and reflections about love, survival, and interpersonal impacts and choices.

The Woman Who Forgave Herself, as with the entire series, is highly recommended reading for those interested in literary fiction about women's psychological, spiritual, and life empowerment processes.

Rethinking Money and Finance
Richard G. Patterson
Independently Published
9798824051612, $10.00 Paperback/$3.00 eBook

Rethinking Money and Finance: Economics, Common Sense and Morality makes a powerful case for how economics and the drive for money are destroying both the planet and human relationships, threatening the world and humanity with eventual extinction.

Others have made this argument before, placing the blame on economic systems and financial pursuits; but what sets Rethinking Money and Finance apart from others is not just its contentions, but the time Richard G. Patterson takes to explore the underlying foundations of value and economic theory that affect how systems and people make choices.

Chapters use the 2007-08 financial crisis as a focal point for creating insights and understanding, reviewing past financial history in a thought-provokingly different light. This will lead readers to better understand these and other economic impasses and crises, and their roots in misguided strategies and thinking.

No punches are pulled in this process:

"...liquidity is a double-edged sword. It may encourage "investment" but it also encourages "trading" and "speculation." Financial markets theoretically designed to spread the risk and keep the wheels of industry turning end up making it possible for George Soros to make a billion dollars in 1992 by "shorting" the pound sterling and forcing the British government to alter its monetary policy. While an expert might be able to point out that Soros was simply seeing an opportunity created by a mistaken monetary policy and insist that regulations and enlightened government policy can prevent financial crises, it may also be that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way investment in business is generated."

The candid nature of Patterson's observations create dialogues and inspections especially recommended for high school to college-level classes in economics and financial history. His ability to juxtapose historical events with examinations of influences and opportunities for change will spark students to discuss and debate many of these points.

An extensive bibliography and footnotes enhances the scholarly applications of this work, supporting its contentions; but the overall style of delivery is such that even lay readers not well versed in economic theory will find the discourses quite appealing and accessible.

The problems are clearly presented:

"Mainstream economics conflates the creation of surplus goods through technology with the accrual of "profits" to individuals or corporations. It fails to see that money should not be a commodity with a price determined by supply and demand and that the only thing achieved by financial markets is the concentration of money and power in the hands of a few along with an unending series of "crises" that destroy lives. It justifies all this with a simplistic model of human interaction and the pretense of being a science based on mathematical models."

The solutions lie in deeper examinations that Patterson provides, which lean into arenas of philosophical, moral, and ethical concerns.

Libraries and teachers seeking a primer on economic impact that rests on the foundations of the 2007-08 financial meltdown, but then builds positive reflections and possibilities for change (and even transformation), will find Rethinking Money and Finance an intriguing, powerful survey.

Eat Dessert First
Michelle Paris
Apprentice House Press
9781627205115, $23.99 Paperback/$34.99 Hardcover/$6.49 eBook

Eat Dessert First is a novel replete with insights about a big woman with a big heart and baking skills that too often preclude finding a love who realizes her true value. Abbey knows she is fat. The left-handed compliments that she fields too often are designed not to encourage her to lose weight, but to shame her.

Immersed in a bakery job to supports her ailing mother, the last thing Abbey seeks is romance. She can barely stay afloat financially and emotionally after giving up her architectural career to become a caregiver.

That's why it seems too good to believe when a handsome customer asks her out. If it's too good to believe, it usually is. This baggage comes with an existing marriage, so Abbey bails.

Her next encounter with romance is also unexpected: a handsome bachelor at a party. At least he's not married. Too bad he comes with a vengeful ex, however.

As Abbey navigates issues of love, weight, value, and self-esteem, readers will be drawn into the sights and smells of the bakery world and a life replete with warmth and adversity.

Abbey discovers that the bakery job that was forced by circumstance reflects her real passion in life (more so than architecture ever was), and as she identifies these interests, she begins to make new moves towards changing her life as her self-esteem blossoms:

"What was best for her mother needed to be a priority. If that turned out to be Sacred Heart, Abbey would find a way to pay for it - maybe even go back to being an architect. This thought saddened her, and that surprised her. She had always enjoyed being an architect, but not as much as she enjoyed baking. She realized she was passionate about baking. The cake she made for Magda was proof of that. As she had put on the final touches, she marveled at her creation. It was such a rush to feel that kind of pride. She had wanted to run out onto Main Street and drag passersby into the bakery and say, "Look what I did!"

What else is she passionate about? Time and this novel will tell; but one thing is certain: readers who imbibe of the special flavors driving Abbey's life in Eat Dessert First are in for a cozy treat that is alternately funny, revealing, ironic, and interesting.

Libraries seeking women's fiction that arrives with a dose of mouth-watering descriptions and lively engagements will find Eat Dessert First features a taste of something special.

Street Corner Dreams
Florence Reiss Kraut
She Writes Press
9781647425913, $17.95 Paperback/$8.99 eBook

Street Corner Dreams will attract book clubs and reader groups interested in exceptionally vivid stories of Jewish families, history, and confrontations within immigrant communities and between gangs.

Set in Brooklyn 's Jewish neighborhoods in the 1930s, it brings this era and these cultural identities to life with a spicy, flavorful saga. The journey covers how street gangs became prevalent, why they were motivated to do so, and how the Jewish community interacted with these forces as it struggled to find its own footing and make roots in its adopted land.

From deaths before and upon arrival and money concerns that kept families filled with angst and worry to the social and financial concerns that created a street culture in response, Florence Reiss Kraut creates a novel steeped in historical events and precedents. Jewish culture and traditions are revealed as life and death are tackled, showing how different generations interact and change within their families and communities as well as in mainstream American society.

As the immigrant Brooklyn family survives a changing environment straddling two world wars, readers become steeped in not just gang activity, but the realities of their allure and the forces that influence their actions and community perceptions.

The high-flying emotions which enter when romance raises its controversial head are as solidly depicted as the other themes of the story, reinforced by realistic dialogue:

"Are you crazy, coming into my uncle's store like that? What were you thinking?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to see where you work."
"Well, don't do that again. They'd kill me if they knew I was seeing a Jew."

Morty's chest constricted. There was that word again. He felt like he had been punched in the chest. This was the second time she'd called him that. Did I tell her I hated it when she said that? He didn't think he had made an issue of it. He was upset with himself. I'm a coward, he thought. Now he said, "A Jew? It sounds like a curse word. Is that how you feel about me? That's the most important thing about me? That I'm a Jew?"

Book clubs seeking lively discussion material about Jewish culture, gang activity, immigrant experience, and Brooklyn 's past will find Street Corner Dreams thoroughly engrossing and filled with points perfect for debate.

This is also why libraries will want to include Street Corner Dreams in any collection strong in historical fiction that brings the Jewish immigrant experience to life.

Traveling in Wonder
Autumn Carolynn
Autumn Carolynn Photography
9798218308551, $39.99 Hardcover/$31.99 Paperback/$7.99 eBook

Many travelogues assume a similar pattern: the narrator embarks on a world journey replete with tactile and mental experiences and revelations.

Traveling in Wonder takes a different approach. It comes from a former flight attendant who traveled to 30 countries over a thirty-year period. She didn't just touch down and leave: she stepped off the plane to immerse herself in each of these worlds, moving through different personal and career objectives as she made discoveries about herself and diverse cultures around the world.

Choosing the memoir format gives these experiences a "you are here immediacy" that doesn't end with a quick assessment or dip into the country, but involves in-depth surveys as Carolynn moves from studying abroad in Germany, Ireland, Hungary and more European countries to becoming a flight attendant, visiting more countries such as Iceland. She describes many forays into U.S. states; then becoming a travel agent, delving into Asia before her current incarnation as a photographer working in Costa Rica, Portugal, and Morocco .

Each new phase of life and career brings with it more than a taste of the nations Carolynn experiences:

"I was taken back by the intricate beauty of France . All the buildings were composed of a creamy white stone, with romantically swirled ledges in front of every windowpane with flowerpots underneath. The buildings constituted large blocks stories high, so I couldn't see the sky. However, this was equaled out by large trees throughout the streets that captured the aura of autumn mist. The fashion in France was breathtaking. I swear, I've never seen anything like it. Everyone fit in with the sophisticated surroundings and truly cared about how they dressed."

Carolynn's gorgeous color and black and white photos liberally pepper her experiences, adding to the feeling of journeying alongside her as readers venture into each country. At the start of each experience is a checklist she created for herself to remind her of goals and cement the events that transpired, from making new friends to lessons learned from that experience.

Her self-examination is every bit as important as her experiences:

"As I watched the reflection in the water, I reflected on my trip in Oceania . I never would have thought taking a chance to try something completely out of my comfort zone would end up in the ultimate adventure of a lifetime. For the first time in a long time, I truly felt courageous."

The result blends photographic visual and psychological excellence into a journey that libraries will find inviting, gently thought-provoking, and packed with excitement and insight alike. Wanna-be travelers will find the variety of travels and the life-changing career transformations to be equally vivid and attractive, whether they plan on riding along with Carolynn in an armchair with Traveling in Wonder, or embarking on a similar journey themselves, keeping wonder at the forefront of anticipations about immersion into unfamiliar territory.

Libraries will find it a fine addition that expands the usual travelogue approach, highly recommended to a wide range of armchair or destination travelers.

Sun Eye Moon Eye
Vincent Czyz
Spuyten Duyvil
9781959556831, $25.00

Sun Eye Moon Eye enters the world of Hopi musician Logan Blackfeather and his journey through the turbulence and trauma of the 1980s. What seems like as a road trip experience turns into the chronicle of a downfall as Logan finds himself involved in a death, incarcerated in a mental hospital, and at the bottom of his life's hopes and dreams.

There's only one way to go. Up. So Logan embarks on a different kind of journey, which is evocatively presented:

"In the beginning there was no beginning. And no end. No time and no direction. Time floated on the silence, an unawakened moment. In perfect silence a breath is a symphony. In perfect darkness, a candle a sun."

Having given up his beloved music after his breakdown, Logan is now in a vulnerable position - which also proves the perfect place to reassess its meaning in his revised life:

"Music, sometimes, was the spark he used to span the gap that he was. Sometimes was the only way to ground himself."

Readers who follow Logan 's path will find it replete with contrasts between his heritage and his future, past and present challenges, and relationships and jobs that trap him between White and Native American worlds.

Vincent Czyz creates the perfect storm of downfall, realization, recovery, and survival tactics as he creates a character whose ambitions and failures get the best of him, but also point him towards more positive options for his future.

Czyz is especially adept at embedding Native traditional and spiritual reflection into Logan 's story, which teeters on the brink of contemporary and past anguish:

"This will be your Ghost Shirt. You have seen some of these shirts hung with feathers and strips of rawhide, even thin tails of human hair. They are painted with eagles and hawks and crows with outspread wings, with colorful two-headed birds and buffalo-horned beings, with five-pointed stars like those on the flag the Blue Coats wave or a red daybreak star. Others are decorated with constellations, crescent moons, circles divided into four parts, streaks of red lightning, feverish spots. Wovoka has said that the bullets of the soldiers cannot harm you when you wear your Ghost Shirt."

Readers and libraries seeking powerful descriptive language, a stark contrast between past and present worlds, and influences that drive a fallen character to envision new beginnings (even at what seems like the end) will relish the atmospheric, evocative words that permeate Sun Eye Moon Eye, lending it both a degree of thought-provoking insights and more than a dash of hope:

"Weight fell away from him like shed clothing until he was the lightness of his bones, wind singing through his ribs. Until he was a spiny feather whirling inside a dust devil across the hard landscape. Direction was inside him, was all around him. Knowing that he'd fallen in with his destiny as surely as his destiny existed, he ran."

Passage to Moorea
B.R. O'Hagan
Pedee Creek Press
9781734226348, $16.95

Fans of the first Thomas Scoundrel book, Scoundrel in the Thick, will find Passage to Moorea fills in many blanks from the past as it takes a step 10 years back into Thomas's life to follow the 23-year-old as he stows aways on a German warship, becomes a sugar plantation owner in Hawaii; and battles both the gentlemen and the thieves who controlled Hawaiian society in the late 19th century.

A letter from the famous author Jules Verne to Thomas in the fore piece and the prologue set in 1872 that follows set up a sense of anticipation for the adventure ahead:

"Watching you swing from the drapes and fly down from the balcony with no less than a dozen club-wielding Polynesian warriors in pursuit was pure exhilaration for me, and I dare say, for every one of the stuffed shirt aristocrats who held their breath as you and those brutes battled your way to the museum's front doors. I have been unable to stop that scene from playing over and over in my mind, and so I have determined (with your kind permission, I pray) to incorporate it into my latest Voyage Extraordinaire, to be published in the Magasin d'Education et de Recreation in September. I will send you a pre-publication draft to review." Jules Verne

The opening scenario depicts anything but a gentleman manager, banker, or art promoter in Thomas, who takes the reins of a lively and thoroughly engrossing read, crafting a "you are here" experience which brings with it the tension of a thriller and the immediacy of a heart-stopping personal foray into trouble:

"...a sound broke the stillness. Not quite a real bark, Manatea thought, more like the hoarse cough of someone who was dying. Then another cough, followed by a growl. The warriors froze in place."

The tempo of the events and confrontations assume the feel of a swashbuckler, but it is tempered by the political and psychological confrontations Thomas fields as he navigates the world of art and the birth of Impressionism, and as he struggles to stay one step ahead of the team of Irish and Tahitian assassins who pursue him around the globe.

As the story unfolds, he encounters dozens of strong characters who come to life even in the briefest of passages:

"Mcllvaney had no special appreciation for the arts, but he did value his job. He understood that if so much as a single strand of hair was mussed on the head of one of tonight's guests by some hoodlum - or Tahitian - who snuck in off the street he would be transferred from the posh hotel district he had worked up to over the past ten years to a frozen and grimy streetcorner in the Bowery or Five Points."

Once again, adventurer Thomas is a flawed hero who manages to wiggle out of seemingly impossible situations with both his reputation and his unshakeable objectives intact. Exquisite threads of living history wind into the story so seamlessly that readers will absorb a wealth of social, cultural, and political influences without a thought that they are receiving an education in the guise of an action-packed wild ride as Thomas confronts one deadly challenge after another in his quest to help his friends and build a future with the woman he loves.

Libraries and readers seeking historical novels steeped in events of the time but laced with powerful psychological and political tones will find Passage to Moorea both a powerful introduction to the prior Thomas Scoundrel novel and a stand-alone worthy of acquisition, patron recommendation, and discussion and debate on the parts of history-reading book clubs.

The Exiled Queen
Roxana Arama
Dhawosia Publishing
9798989873104, $14.99 paperback/$4.99 ebook

The Exiled Queen: A Roman Era Historical Fantasy opens with an impressive listing of characters, 'main gods', and a map; all of which portend a complex read that proves satisfyingly engrossing, as well.

A young princess is featured in the opening lines of the story:

"Every year on midsummer day, Princess Andrada waited for King Cothelas to come and wish her a gods-blessed birthday. Every year, he was too busy ruling Kerta to visit his daughter. But this year was different because she was turning ten..."

That's not the only reason why this year will prove different, as Princess Andrada finds. Not only has her father been too busy being king to celebrate her birthday, but despite their living in the same place, she's never met him.

So spins a yarn that moves from a young princess's hopes and disappointments to follow her into adult roles where she will assume positions of power she'd never imagined, face dangers she's both ideally and ill-equipped to handle, and confront the real nature of her legacy and future.

Roxana Arama injects Andrada's story with elements of suspense, surprise, and revelation which operate on different levels, from social and political revelations to developing her inner and outer beauty and handling the attraction her efforts receive, which are not always welcome.

Friends swirl around her to protect her even as Andrada's legacy is eroded not just by a replacement chain of command, but by the perceptions, attitudes, and interests of the common folk ruled by them.

Even the replacement queen Una's perspective is tailored so that her role and rule are logical and easy to relate to:

"Una wanted to tell him not to fear, that everything would soon be as before. She wasn't there to take his place in the queen's heart. She was there only because of her goddess-given duty."

In presenting characters and possible adversaries who are often likeable in their own ways, Arama adds complexity and gray areas to the traditional black-or-white perspective of conflicts and confrontations, which will immensely satisfy fantasy and historical novel readers seeking powerful female presences and situations which are not driven by linear thinking.

Young Prince Dapyx of Valdavia faces his own coming-of-age challenges and grows under the events that emerge; the Cartographer hones not just his art but his involvement as a potential killer of royalty; and other characters come to light with their own special interests and conflicting perceptions of events and how the kingdom should be ruled.

The Exiled Queen is a gripping story replete with not just action, but psychological depth and revelation as all the characters grapple with uncertainty, revised roles, and struggles between religions that have different faiths and perceptions of gods (of which Andrada represents the crux of conflict even as she pursues a life of safety and enlightenment, in direct conflict with the emergence of her role and life).

The result is a vivid saga that doesn't scrimp on action and political and religious interplays between characters, but does include deeper layers of personal and social revelation that will simply delight libraries and readers seeking solid blends of history, fantasy, and proactive, powerful female characters.

Productivity is Power II
Hillary Rettig
Infinite Art Press
9780989944090, $24.95 Paperback/$4.95 eBook

Productivity is Power II tackles a subject usually skirted in business books: disempowerment processes and how they affect business structures, individuals, and corporations at the highest levels.

Disempowerment's symptoms may mask as laziness or complicity, but it holds its roots in far deeper, more troubling corporate culture and is often the insidious result of trauma, perfectionist demands, improper management processes, and outright power and prejudice displays.

Where do the tendencies to transmit disempowerment and repression come from? Begin with family, move into society as a whole, then translate it to professional pursuits and you have the root causes of a dysfunctional power structure many struggle against.

Now re-envision that scenario with empowerment in mind, for a hint of how Hillary Rettig translates the situation to actions and choices which deliver not only better productivity, but healthier relationships.

Chapters review the philosophy, psychology, and sociology of unproductive behavior patterns, linking them to examples of disenfranchisement which can permeate a pursuit without its participants even noticing the deeper ramifications of their actions.

Readers receive a survey that goes beyond stating ideals or problems, teaching new thought processes in the perception of work, success, relationships, and everything related to honing more productive efforts:

"You'll need to learn to tolerate all this weirdness, at least for a while. You'll especially need to make sure that it doesn't send you spiraling back into perfectionism and procrastination. Persevere gently - always gently - and the weird feelings, which are kind of like "perfectionism's last stand," should eventually go away. Meanwhile, time management (Part V) will help you to deal with the "problem" (not really) of "too much time." Hopefully, you'll eventually decide, at some not-so-distant point, that, "Dammit, I am not going to treat myself badly anymore, no matter how badly

I think I've screwed up! It's not worth it, it feels terrible, and it doesn't help a thing." That's when you'll know you've turned the corner away from perfectionism, and toward a happier, brighter, kinder, more abundant, and more productive future."

We've all known or lived with perfectionists; including ourselves. What makes Productivity is Power II particularly enlightening is its can-do approach to revising habits and objectives to season them with more mindful actions, reactions, and thoughts.

The coping strategies for deflecting the impact of "...harsh people, exploiters, and other problematic types" translate to effective life approaches that will reach beyond business settings and into the nuts and bolts of living a more effective, peaceful life.

Libraries and readers seeking important keys to personal, political, and corporate transformation processes will find all the basics and growth-encouraging routines here. Productivity is Power II's ability to present scenarios of destructive interactions and teach how to convert them to productive, positive options and soul-building life experiences makes this book a 'must' not just for business and self-help collections, but especially for discussion groups interested in absorbing the processes of better living and working.

Not On My Watch
Bob & Joan Hatrak
Villa Magna Publishing
9781940178684, $34.99 Hardcover/$24.99 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Not On My Watch: A Beloved Prison Warden's 30-Year Fight for Justice in the Prison System is an important library acquisition for anyone interested in justice system issues, operations, and conundrums. It documents the experiences of Bob Hatrack, the youngest warden to oversee America 's largest maximum-security prison (Rahway State), and follows his entry into prison reform and the changes he instigated at a rigid and dangerous institution.

From its opening lines, this memoir delivers on it's title's promise to create a vivid, engrossing story replete in a story not only about the world behind prison bars, but Hatrak's many experiences outside of his chosen work and career.

This gives a full-bodied experiential feel to the memoir, broadening its horizons beyond the usual singular focus on the prison system to expand and reflect upon diverse elements that influenced Hatrack's approach and often-revolutionary prison reforms.

How did he achieve all this? One word provides the foundation: boxing.

In the 1970s, the New Jersey justice system was not known for giving second chances. Hatrack entered the system with a unique perspective and gave its residents that chance:

"Often, the most powerful stories are of redemption, but not everyone is willing to give someone the opportunity to redeem themselves. Bob Hatrak earned respect by doing that. He is a man of second chances, of giving the benefit of the doubt, and he is a man of principle."

Through work release programs and combining an innovative management perspective gleaned from experiences with Trenton's prison system to his early instigation of fourteen new rules, from 'hands-off' approaches to prisoners that advocated a touchless respect on both sides to instigating violence control routines tacked unresolved inmate riot demands of the past, Hatrack addressed some of the most deadly and persistent prison processes, transforming them and the watchers and inmates that had become stuck in their rules and routines.

So much is provided, here, on prison issues, reform processes, and approaches to management that any library with an iota of interest in justice system issues will find the approach lively, eye-opening, and worthy of discussion on many different levels, whether the group be students involved in prison system issues or book clubs interested in bigger-picture discussion about individual impact in decision-making roles.

This is why Not On My Watch is very highly recommended for libraries ranging from specialty collections in justice systems to general-interest institutions seeking thoroughly inspiring, engrossing reading that documents one man's progressive thinking and determination to make a difference.

Wide-ranging, indeed, because Hatrack's programs and innovations reached well into the greater world:

"It didn't take long for our work to reach the local and national newspapers and appear on local and national television. It amazed us to learn that our idea had "crossed the pond" and adapted into a Juvenile Awareness Program, in full swing, in England on the BBC! Even Prince Harry sat through a complete session."

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

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

The Girl In The Vault
Michael Ledwidge
Hanover Square Press
c/o HarperCollins
9780778335455086, $30.00 HC / $14.99 Kindle

"The Girl In The Vault" is another sure-fire suspenseful yarn by on of the masters of the genre. Faye Walker is on top of the world as an intern with a major Wall Street player and a new personal relationship. Everything is amazing until things take a nose dive. Disgusted she decides to take her revenge in a well thought out plan where she will be victorious. "The Girl In The Vault" unfolds with solid writing, believable characters in an industry few of us know very much about to a wonderful exciting resolution.

The Vacation
John Marris
Hanover Square Press
c/o HarperCollins
9781335006042, $18.99 pbk / $12.99 Kindle

"The Vacation" sounded like an excellent novel of suspense from its preview on the cover but there are numerous problems from very early that cause a lot of confusion. From the opening the author plays games for readers of things readers have to wonder about. It also goes back and forth between many portions of the world as well as periods of time. "The Vacation" overall is a very disappointing read.

What Would Regan Do? Life Lessons from the Last Great President
Chris Christie with Ellis Henican
Threshold Editions
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781982160661, $30.00 HC / $14.99 Kindle

Chris Christie is one of the few remaining Republicans, from a very different era, who looks back at a unique time, with his newest work "What Would Regan Do?" The country had been though the dark days of Watergate, the resignation of Richard Nixon who handed over to Gerald Ford the presidency. Ford who had not been elected to either office ran for reelection to be defeated by democrat outsider, Jimmy Carter. Carter's presidency in chaos, in so many ways prompted others of his party to run for primaries, while Republicans had many challengers where, Ronald Regan emerged as the front runner. Regan chose his strongest opponent, George H W. Bush to be vice president. It is there Christie begins the work where he cast his vote for president for the very first time as a college student.

Christie then traces the life of the Regan to show how he developed principles he lived by, that were an important part, of his types of service. Regan worked with both parties to achieve so much in the eight years of his administration. He picked excellent advisors, he listened to while setting a new tone of a brighter future. He met challenges head on, not with polls in mind but what he felt was right tor the country. Readers will see major differences in the way things were handled then and now.

"What Would Regan Do?" is a refreshing look at a long-ago period where there was a different climate in politics that leads to Christies, epilogue where he compares Regan's respect, honor dignity, and harmony to solve problems together, compared to Donald Trump's blame everyone else, divide and conquer, shut downs, insults, and darkness only he can solve. It is time to change the direction of the nation and hopefully the lessons of "What Would Regan Do?" are a perfect starting point.

A Good Bad Boy: Luke Perry And How A Generation Grew Up
Margaret Wappler
Simon & Schuster
9781668006269, $28.99 HC / $14.99 Kindle

"A Good Bad Boy: Luke Perry And How A Generation Grew Up" should have been a great biography of Luke Perry, who died close to five years ago. Instead it is a hodge podge of writing, that does not do the actor justice. The author begins the narrative with a prologue in italics of a woman who looks back on the show 90210 that continually resurface to detract from the account of his life. Broken into three parts, chapters highlight many aspects of his career. At the same time they are confusing as the author is all over the place with the history that may relay casting auditions then about the show and later back to tryouts.

It is most apparent with the show Riverdale that talks about Perry and costar K. J. Apa promoting on the Tonight show and Today. Then Apa is asked to talk about his loss on The View. There is nothing that leads up to her statement. There are other things as well of her description of Riverdale and other cast members and the author assumes reader know the program. But so many of us have never seen an episode. She also talks about Perry's death and later talks about a Quentin Tarantino film he did before Riverdale. It's sad "A Good Bad Boy Luke Perry And How A Generation Grew Up" is a poorly constructed tribute to an actor who was much more than people thought.

Women Who Murder: An International Collection of Deadly True Crime Tales
Mitzi Szereto
c/o Mango Publishing
9781684814657, $19.99 pbk/$9.99 Kindle

So often there are more accounts of cases of murder by men than committed by women. True Crime magazines covered both sexes evenly until they no longer published editions. Now Mitzi Szereto adds to her true crime series "Women Who Murder" that has cases from all over the world of women for whatever reason killed others. There are serial ladies, jolted lovers, high society members by females in many diverse ways. There are ones with knives, poisons, guns, and other creative ways. All have one common element. Women did them. All fourteen writings are by master contributors who she light on many shocking examples many of us have never even heard of. An interesting fact as well is when their judgements were issued of death penalty in other nations they all were carried out unlike the United States. "Women Who Murder" is a welcome addition to the series edited by Mitzi Szereto that should be the first of many more on lady killers editions worldwide

Who Will Take Care Of Me Now? A Story Of Resilience, Strength, And Perseverance
Sherry Buckley Brown
Independently Published
9782652256356, 14.99 pkb / $8.99 Kindle

"Who Will Take Care Of Me Now" is a personal account of a dark time in one person's life that ends with there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like most families, life for them was nice a father mother and children that had their fair share of things going on. But something in their lives turned into a dark and sinister environment, where there was spousal abuse for some time that ended with the murder of their mother by their father. The siblings were sent to live with others around the country of cousins aunts and uncles.

The author blamed herself for the death of her mother because she didn't do anything to protect her. The reality is, she was a child and in the time there was no place to go, no one to stop the abuse, no counseling, shelters, or anything else. Through the years she was able to eek out a life but so much revolved around the day she saw her mothers blood covered body from the vicious attack committed by her father, who was supposed to be someone she would look up to. Her guilt manifest itself min many disturbing ways of her difficult life. Somehow she was able to turn the tide into a more productive existence.

"Who Will Take Care of Me Now?" is an inspirational story of one woman's complicated journey to a better realm through faith, hard work, seeking help of many forms and a belief that she could turn around the negatives that had overwhelmed her for so long and that if she could do it then others can too.

A Journey With Angels
Mary Brotherton
bUneke Publishing
9798986914640, $15.00 pkb No Kindle

"A Journey with Angels" is a common-sense approach of how we all deal with angles who are here to help us through many situations. There are so many people who do not believe in angels and the good things they have done for many of us. For those of us who trust they are real there are lots of exercises to do to get ready when there is involvement for whatever reason. There are many different named ones who have special functions to guide and protect us in our journey of life "A Journey with Angels" is an educational tool to be ready when we encounter one of our guardians.

Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours
Phillip Longman
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
9781609945176, 18.95 pkb / No Kindle

HealthCare continues to be a major subject of discussion as insurance providers knock themselves signing up new clients. "Best Care Anywhere" continues to roll out new editions with many added features but is a wonderful comparison of the medical care provided compared to that of the insurers. The author contrasts his own story of his wife fighting cancer and what was covered and not for her in relation to the VA and the differences.

Yes, the VA for a long time had a bad record and has some hiccups but in the last few years it has overcome so much of the negativity, to become a leading provider of health care, for veterans and their families that is a model others could follow. The VA is on top of many aspects, including research, treatments, and patient information, utilizing on so many levels the most advanced technology. Longman reveals breakthrough things the VA does that are now common practices that others could follow. "Best Care Anywhere" is a sample of what a government run program can do better than the private sector in so many ways.

Drawing Deena
Hena Khan
Salaam Reads
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781534459915, $17.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"Drawing Deena" is a multi-told story that is a pleasurable reading for all ages. Deena has many problems as she deals with the day-to-day situations of middle school. She also has decided she wants to be an artist and has a hard time getting her parents to understand her desire while she has medical issues, as well as she is concerned with her parents who she hears argue so often at home that have her believing they are on a course for a possible divorce. A good novel has many conflicts and "Drowning Deena" has a number of them that transport the work along to a very satisfying ending.

Gabo Snyder, author
Stephanie George, illustrator
A Paula Wiseman Book
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781665924856,18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"Today" combines art and prose to tell a wonderful tale of things that can happen in one day. Once you begin reading you are hooked by the story that moves along to reveal all the things you can do even if it's a slow day. There are many wonderful underlying messages like enjoy each and every moment, have a nice time, find lots of things to keep yourself occupied are just a couple that all of us should incorporate into our routines. "Today is fun reading for everyone no matter what age.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation
Dr. Jen Gunter
Citadel Press
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
9780806540689, $30.00, HC, 480pp

Synopsis: Most women, transgender, and non-binary people who menstruate can expect to have hundreds of periods in a lifetime. So why is real information about menstruation so hard to find?

Despite its significance, most education about menstruation focuses either on increasing the chances of pregnancy or preventing it. And while both are important for many people, those who menstruate deserve to know more about their bodies than just what happens in service to reproduction.

At a time when charlatans, politicians, and social media are succeeding in propagating damaging misinformation with real and devastating consequences, with the publication of "Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation", Dr. Jen Gunter provides the antidote with science, myth busting, and no-nonsense facts.

Not knowing how your body works makes it challenging to advocate for yourself. Consequently, many suffer in silence thinking their bodies are uniquely broken, or they turn to disreputable sources. Blood is a practical, empowering guide to what's typical, what's concerning, and when to seek care - recounted with expertise and frank, fearless wit that have made Dr. Jen today's most trusted voice in gynecology.

Dr. Jen answers all your period-related questions, including: What exactly happens during menstruation? How heavy is too heavy? How much should periods hurt? and provides essential information about topics such as:

* Why do we menstruate?
* The endometrium's (the uterine lining's) fascinating connection to the immune system
* The impact of stress, vaccines, and health on the menstrual cycle
* Menstrual migraines, PMS, and period diarrhea (yes, it's a thing, unfortunately)
* Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
*Fibroids and other causes of heavy bleeding
* Endometriosis and the latest treatments
*Legitimate menstrual products, and the facts behind toxic shock syndrome

Blood is about much more than biology. It's an all-in-one, revolutionary guide that will change the way we think about, talk about (and don't talk about) our bodies and our well-being.

Critique: Comprehensive, accessible, expertly written, deftly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation" must be considered as essential reading for girls now dealing with puberty and menstruation. It is also critically important for women whose sex education was minimal or misleading on the subject. Simply stated, "Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation" will prove invaluable for readers with an interest in the subjects of women's health and obstetrics/gynecology. Especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections, it should be noted that "Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation" is also available in a paperback edition (9780735280823, $29.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.18). While the primary audience for "Blood: The science, medicine, and mythology of menstruation" are women, it will prove to be educative reading form men and medical students with an interest in the subject as well.

Editorial Note: Dr. Jen Gunter ( is an author, obstetrician, and gynecologist with more than three decades of experience as a vulvar and vaginal diseases expert. Her books, "The Vagina Bible" and "The Menopause Manifesto", have been translated into 25 languages. She is the host of Jensplaining, a CBC/Amazon Prime video series that highlights the impact of medical misinformation on women, and the recipient of the 2020 NAMS Media Award from The North American Menopause Society. Her 2020 TED Talk, "Why Can't We Talk About Periods?" received more than two million views in its first six months, leading to the launch of her popular podcast on the TED Audio Collective, "Body Stuff with Dr. Jen Gunter".

Library for the War-Wounded
Monika Heleer, author
Gillian Davidson, translator
Bloomsbury Press
9781639732395, $26.99, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: Born with the stigma of illegitimacy, Josef found solace in books, and his education was eventually funded by the Catholic Church. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he witnessed the horrors of the Eastern Front and returned from the war an amputee. He married his nurse and brought his family to the high, idyllic slopes of the Austrian Alps, where he took a position as manager of a convalescent home for war-wounded.

Josef was a man of many mysteries. To his daughter Monika, none was greater than his obsession with the home's unlikely and remarkable library, his great treasure and comfort as the country barrels away from the memory of war. He will stop at nothing to save it-even when it tears apart his family.

Beautifully restrained and compressed, "Library for the War-Wounded" turns lived experience into great literature by confronting the universal question: Can we ever truly know our parents?

Critique: Fascinating, compelling, memorable, "Library for the War-Wounded" is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Library for the War-Wounded", novelist Monika Helfer has transformed a fictionaly domestic biography into a work of fine literature, making it a prized and unique addition to community and college/university library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Library for the War-Wounded" is also available in a paperback edition (9781526663610, $25.15) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Although a work of fiction, "Library for the War-Wounded" was inspired by author Monika Helfer's own family history.

Editorial Note #1: Monika Helfer ( grew up in Vorarlberg, Austria. Her novels include the internationally bestselling, Schubart Prize-winning Last House Before the Mountain and Löwenherz (Lionheart). She has been awarded the Bodensee and Solothurn Literature Prizes, the Johann Beer Prize, and the Austrian Cross of Honor. She lives in Hohenems, Austria.

Editorial Note #2: Gillian Davidson ( is a literary translator based in London. Monika Helfer's Last House Before the Mountain was her first published work of translation.

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

The Bill Gates Problem
Tim Schwab
Metropolitan Books
c/o Henry Holt & Company
9781250850096, $33.99, HC, 496pp

Synopsis: Through his vaunted philanthropy, Bill Gates transformed himself from a billionaire tech villain into one of the most admired and generous people on the planet. Even as divorce proceedings and allegations of misconduct have recently tarnished his public image, the beneficence of the Gates Foundation, celebrated for spending billions to save lives around the globe, is taken as a given.

But with the publication of "The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire", fearless investigator Tim Schwab shows that Gates is still exactly who he was at Microsoft: a bully and monopolist, convinced of his own righteousness and intent on imposing his ideas, his solutions, and his leadership on everyone else. That at the core, Gates is not a selfless philanthropist but a power broker, a clever engineer who has innovated a way to turn extreme wealth into immense political influence -- and who has made us believe we should applaud his acquisition of power, not challenge it.

Piercing the blinding halo that has for too long shielded the world's most powerful (and most secretive) charitable organization from public scrutiny, "The Bill Gates Problem" shows how Gates's billions have purchased a stunning level of control over public policy, private markets, scientific research, and the news media. Whether he is pushing new educational standards in America, health reforms in India, global vaccine policy during the pandemic, or Western industrialized agriculture throughout Africa, Gates's heady social experimentation has shown itself to be not only undemocratic, but also ineffective. In many places, Bill Gates is hurting the very people he intends to help.

No less than dark-money campaign contributions or big-business political lobbying, Bill Gates's philanthropic empire needs to be seen as a problem of money in politics. It is a dangerous model of unconstrained power that threatens democracy and demands our attention.

Critique: A compendium of iconoclastic revelations on and about Bill Gates, arguably one of the most influential Americans over the past 70+ years, "The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire" is the result of extensive, painstaking, and meticulous research. An inherently fascinating and documented read from start to finish, "The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library collections. Thoughtful and though-provoking, and particular value to readers with an interest in philanthropy, charity non-profits, public policy development, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire" is also available in a paperback edition (9781250850102, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note: Tim Schwab ( is an investigative journalist based in Washington, DC. His groundbreaking reporting on the Gates Foundation for The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, and The British Medical Journal has been honored with an Izzy Award and a Deadline Club Award.

Shine: How Looking Inward Is the Key to Unlocking True Entrepreneurial Freedom
Gino Wickman, author
Rob Dube, author
BenBella Books
9781637745144, $29.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Entrepreneurs often have a burning need to succeed. But that same relentless brilliance that propels you in your career can take a toll on your teams, personal relationships, and even your health. Gino Wickman, bestselling author of Traction, teams up with mindfulness expert Rob Dube to help readers strike a crucial balance between those inner and outer worlds while taking your success to new heights.

With the publication of "Shine: How Looking Inward Is the Key to Unlocking True Entrepreneurial Freedom", co-authors Gino Wickman and Rob Dube share 10 disciplines to help you stay sharp and energetic without burning out.

You'll learn to: Set boundaries in your work life (without compromising productivity) that allow you to become a better leader and better person; Practice sustainable and practical ways to reset your energy and recognize burnout and stress before they happen; Tap into a flow state to harness unbridled creativity, think clearly, and move through your career and life with ease.

With a self-assessment survey, a rich resource guide, and prompts for reflection at the end of every chapter, "Shine: offers a groundbreaking approach to work, life balance, and peace of mind.

Critique: Invaluable, inspiring, exceptionally well written, organized, and thoroughly 'reade friendly in presented, "Shine: How Looking Inward Is the Key to Unlocking True Entrepreneurial Freedom" is an extraordinary and seminal introduction for aspiring and engaged entrepreneurs that will help to underwrite and insure success in their business endeavors. Of particular and special concern for readers with an interest in entrepreneurship, business success, and contemporary cultural anthropology, "Shine: How Looking Inward Is the Key to Unlocking True Entrepreneurial Freedom" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, business school, and college/university library Business/Entrepreneurship collections and MBA curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "Shine: How Looking Inward Is the Key to Unlocking True Entrepreneurial Freedom" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note #1: An entrepreneur since the age of 21, Gino Wickman has always had an obsession for learning what makes businesses and entrepreneurs thrive. Based on his years of real-word experience, Gino created the Entrepreneurial Operating System(R) (EOS(R)), a practical method for helping companies achieve greatness. Gino has personally delivered more than 2,000 full-day sessions for more than 135 companies, helping them implement EOS. He is also the author of the award-winning, best-selling book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, which has sold over 1 million copies, as well as five other books in the Traction Library that have sold over 2 million copies.

Editorial Note #2: For over 30 years, Rob Dube has been thriving as a purpose-driven entrepreneur. He is the co-Founder of imageOne which has won dozens of awards for its people-first and purpose-driven culture from outlets like Forbes and Inc. Magazine. Rob is also the author of "Donothing: The Most Rewarding Leadership Challenge You Will Ever Take", and hosts the Leading with Genuine Care podcast, and the Do Nothing Leadership Retreat in Colorado.

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

The Modern Apothecary
Brendan Murdock, author
Gabriel Weil, author
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781804191408, 34.99, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Traditionally spaces for healing within the community, apothecaries took a holistic look at human health, giving their patients personalized prescriptions and practices to heal both body and mind. But today's consumers who want to enhance their wellbeing and prevent the adverse effects associated with fast-paced, busy lifestyles (including stress, insomnia and digestive problems) are missing this vital middle ground between perfect health/wellness and going to a doctor.

A comprehensive compendium on how to harness the power of botanicals to support your health and improve wellbeing, and co-authored by Brendan Murdock and Gabriel Weil, "The Modern Apothecary" combines nature and science to restore calm to modern-day lives and includes quick and easy practical recipes/rituals and practices to support wellbeing.

This beautifully packaged volume inspires and informs the reader by reviving the science-backed potions and rituals of the past and exploring the essential role these practices have in alleviating common complaints and ailments of today, while also revealing how readers can seamlessly weave these principles and routines into their lifestyles to support their wellbeing, in particular the 5 key pillars of health: sleep, nutrition, movement, mental and emotional health.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, this large format (8.11 x 1.02 x 10.08 inches, 2.31 pounds) hard cover edition from Kyle Books is is enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, a one page bibliographic listing of Further Reading, and a two page Index. Impressively comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Modern Apothecary" is a fundamental and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, medical school, and college/university library Health/Medicine and Altnerative Medicine collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Brendan Murdock ( is passionate about the apothecaries of old that dispensed herbal remedies, potions and lotions to support health and wellbeing. Working with botanicals and essential oils for many years and through his creative passions and interest in food, perfume and skincare he had a deep desire to update and reinvent the apothecary for a new generation.

Editorial Note #2: Gabriel Weil ( is a practitioner and teacher of integrative medicine. For the last thirty years, it has been his personal mission to drive research, education, and clinical practice to advance a philosophy of health that addresses mind, body and spirit. His belief is that integrative medicine is the future of medicine and health care.

Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 9
Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor
Cleis Press
9781627783262, $18.95, PB, 260pp

Synopsis: Want to know the key to unlocking your most forbidden desires? Just ask the curious and courageous characters that populate the short story anthology, "Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 9". Whether they're pursuing a fetish, showing off, or watching a sexy striptease, these leading ladies learn that sometimes simply saying yes is all they need to indulge in their wildest fantasies.

In these 19 brand new erotic stories edited by the award-winning Rachel Kramer Bussel, women travel to all corners of the earth (and sometimes beyond) to find the pleasure they seek. Whether it be in their own home, a library, a bar, the office, kink clubs or even outer space, they offer themselves up for seduction and indulge every wild desire. Join them as they bed men and women and discover how hot it can be to rub up against the edges of their personal boundaries.

With stories by popular authors including Ruby Barrett, Jane Boon, Nicole Falls, and Karmen Lee, plus newcomers to erotic storytelling, the tales comprising "Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 9" are simply too tempting to turn away from.

Critique: A compendium of deftly crafted, entertaining, and erotic stories for mature readers compiled and edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, this paperback edition of "Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 9" from Cleis Press is a fun and memorable read from start to finish. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.4), there is also an audio book edition of "Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 9" (Tantor Audio, B0CTN518PF, $15.30, 6 Hours 35 Minutes).

Editorial Note: Rachel Kramer Bussel ( is a writer, editor, event organizer, and erotica writing instructor. She has edited over 70 anthologies, including The Big Book of Orgasms, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Dirty Dates, On Fire, Spanked, Please, Sir, and Please, Ma'am, and is the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series editor. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Marie Claire, O, The Oprah Magazine,, Salon, Slate,, The Village Voice and numerous other publications. She can be followed @raquelita on Twitter and learn more about her writing workshops and consulting at

Love in Bloom
Alli Koch
Paige Tate & Company
c/o Blue Star Press
9781958803639, $14.95, PB, 80pp

Synopsis: The adult coloring book, "Love in Bloom", features 40 colorable pages in a floral and romantic theme -- all hand-drawn by author and artist Alli Koch of Alli K Design.

"Love in Bloom" features: 2 soft black velvet pages that enhance your coloring experience and hide mistakes; Perforated, removable pages (perfect for framing your artwork after you've finished coloring); a gorgeous, hand-illustrated cover with iridescent foil that will look stunning on your bookshelf or coffee table.

Critique: Instagram sensation, muralist, author, and floral aficionado Alli Koch of @allikdesign introduced thousands to the basics of modern floral illustrating with her adult art/illustration instruction book, "How to Draw Modern Florals". She has also developed a devoted following of colorists who cherish her coloring books "Bloom and Heyday". Each page of Alli's newest adult coloring book, "Love in Bloom", comes to life with a variety of her signature floral designs. She invites you to get creative as you customize each page and bring these pretty illustrations to life with color! Simply stated, "Love in Bloom" is the perfect ideal book for Valentine's Day, birthdays, or anyone (and yourself!) who enjoys coloring and creative mindfulness!

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure
Maggie Jackson
Prometheus Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781633889187, $27.95, HC, 344pp

Synopsis: In an era of terrifying unpredictability, we race to address complex crises with quick, sure algorithms, bullet points, and tweets. How could we find the clarity and vision so urgently needed today by being unsure? "Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure " is about the triumph of doing just that.

A scientific adventure tale set on the front lines of a volatile era, this epiphany of a book by award-winning author Maggie Jackson shows us how to skillfully confront the unexpected and the unknown, and how to harness not-knowing in the service of wisdom, invention, mutual understanding, and resilience.

Long neglected as a topic of study and widely treated as a shameful flaw, uncertainty is revealed to be a crucial gadfly of the mind, jolting us from the routine and the assumed into a space for exploring unseen meaning. Far from luring us into inertia, uncertainty is the mindset most needed in times of flux and a remarkable antidote to the narrow-mindedness of our day.

In laboratories, political campaigns, and on the frontiers of artificial intelligence, Jackson meets the pioneers decoding the surprising gifts of being unsure. Each chapter examines a mode of uncertainty-in-action, from creative reverie to the dissent that spurs team success. Step by step, the art and science of uncertainty reveal being unsure as a skill set for incisive thinking and day-to-day flourishing.

Critique: With the publication of "Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure ", author and journalist Maggie Jackson has provided a revolutionary and iconoclastic guide how we can flourish in times of flux and angst by harnessing the overlooked power of our uncertainty. Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library collections. It should be noted for readers with an interest in business and personal decision making and problem solving that "Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Maggie Jackson ( is an award-winning author and journalist known for her pioneering writings on social trends, particularly technology's impact on humanity. Her expertise has been featured in The New York Times, Business Week, Vanity Fair,, O Magazine, and The Times of London; on MSNBC, NPR's All Things Considered, Oprah Radio, The Takeaway, and on the Diane Rehm Show and the Brian Lehrer Show; and in multiple TV segments and film documentaries worldwide. Her speaking career includes appearances at Google, Harvard Business School, and the Chautauqua Institute.

Handbook on Tourism Planning
Philip Feifan Xie, editor
Edward Elgar Publishing
9781803923581, $310.00, HC, 490pp

Synopsis: Timely, current and accessible, "Handbook on Tourism Planning" offers a thorough account of the growth, development, and changes in the field of tourism planning over recent decades. With contributions from an interdisciplinary and international range of top scholars, it examines critical issues and challenges facing contemporary tourism planning.

Covering research at local, national, and global levels, the chapters comprising the "Handbook on Tourism Planning" unpack and frame planning strategies in various destinations, expanding the definition of tourism planning to encompass a range of successful case studies. The :Handbook on Tourism Planning" also looks at reimagining tourism planning through sustainability; engaging with forms of creative cultural tourism, the smart city, and rethinking how we see, communicate, understand, and can transform tourist destinations. Of special note are the highlights on how the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified pre-existing issues in the tourism sector, including sustainability, policy, and governance.

Providing both theoretical and practical perspectives on tourism planning, the "Handbook on Tourism Planning" is an essential reference for students and scholars in the field. The diversity of perspectives and action-oriented, project-specific approach also make this an invigorating read for tourism planners and practitioners, particularly those focusing on making tourism practices more sustainable.

Critique: Expertly compiled and edited by Philip Feifan Xie, this large format (6.75 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches, 2.05 pounds) hardcover edition of the "Handbook on Tourism Planning" from Edward Elgar Publishing is a compendium of twenty-six erudite articles by experts in the field and deftly organized for the reader's benefit into four major sections: Foundations of Tourism Planning; The Changing Dimensions of Tourism Planning Principles, Reimagining Tourism Planning through Sustainability; Case Studies of Successful Tourism Planning. There is a listing of the contributors and their credentials, along with a useful fifteen page Index. Simply stated, the "Handbook on Tourism Planning" is recommended as essential for personal, professional, and college/university library Tourism Industry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

When Harry Met Pablo
Matthew Algeo
Chicago Review Press
9781641607872, $28.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: President Harry Truman and the artist Pablo Picasso were contemporaries and were both shaped by and shapers of the great events of the twentieth century -- the man who painted Guernica and the man who authorized the use of atomic bombs against civilians.

But in most ways, they couldn't have been more different. Picasso was a communist, and probably the only thing Harry Truman hated more than communists was modern art. Picasso was an indifferent father, a womanizer, and a millionaire. Truman was utterly devoted to his family and, despite his fame, far from a rich man. How did they come to be shaking hands in front of Picasso's studio in the south of France?

Truman's meeting with Picasso was quietly arranged by Alfred H. Barr Jr., the founding director of New York's Museum of Modern Art and an early champion of Picasso. Barr knew that if he could convince these two ideological antipodes, the straight-talking politician from Missouri and the Cubist painter from Malaga, to simply shake hands, it would send a powerful message, not just to reactionary Republicans pushing McCarthyism at home, but to the whole world: modern art was not evil.

For "When Harry Met Pablo: Truman, Picasso, and the Cold War Politics of Modern Art", author Matthew Algeo personally retraced the Trumans' Mediterranean vacation and visited the places they went with Picasso, including Picasso's villa, Picasso's ceramics studio in Vallauris, and Chateau Grimaldi, a museum in Antibes.

A rigorous history with a heartwarming center, "When Harry Met Pablo" brilliantly intertwines the biographies of Truman and Picasso, the history of modern art, and twentieth-century American politics, but at its core it is the touching story of two old men who meet for the first time and realize they have more in common (and were more alike) than either of the had ever imagined.

Critique: A masterpiece of original research and deftly written for readers with an interest in the lives of Harry Truman and Pablo Picasso, art history and the social/cultural/political role played by 'modern art' in the mid-twentieth century, "When Harry Met Pablo: Truman, Picasso, and the Cold War Politics of Modern Art" is a unique and highly recommended pick for personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university library collections. It should be noted that "When Harry Met Pablo" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Matthew Algeo is an award-winning journalist who has reported from four continents for NPR News. He is also the author of "Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure", "The President Is a Sick Man", and "All This Marvelous Potential".

Photography - A Queer History
Flora Dunster, author
Theo Gordon, author
Ilex Press
c/o Octopus Books
9781781578698, $49.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Co-authored by Flora Dunster and Theo Gordon, "Photography - A Queer History" examines how photography has been used by artists to capture, create and expand the LGBTQ+ category of 'Queer'. It bookmarks different thematic concerns central to queer photography, forging unexpected connections to showcase the diverse ways the medium has been used to fashion queer identities and communities.

"Photography - A Queer History" addresses such question as: How has photography advanced fights against LGBTQ+ discrimination? How have artists used photography to develop a queer aesthetic? How has the production and circulation of photography served to satisfy the queer desire for images, and created transnational solidarities?

"Photography - A Queer History" is a compendium showcasing the work of 84 artists. It spans different historical and national contexts, and through a mix of thematic essays and artist-centred texts brings young photographers into conversation with canonical images.

Critique: This large format (9.8 x 0.89 x 12.1 inches, 3.54 pounds) hardcover edition of "Photography - A Queer History" from Ilex Press is informatively enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of an Introduction, eight pages of Notes, and a four page Index. Each showcased photograph is part of a succinct commentary on the photographer. Of special and particular relevance to readers with an interest in LGBTQ+ biographies, history, and photography, "Photography - A Queer History" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Flora Dunster is an art and social historian. She lectures at Central Saint Martins on MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies. She completed a CHASE/AHRC funded PhD from the University of Sussex, and was a Paul Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. Her writing has been published in journals including Third Text, and edited volumes including The Routledge Companion to Global Photographies and Resist, Organize, Build: Feminist and Queer Activism in Britain and the United States During the Long 1980s.

Editorial Note #2: Theo Gordon is historian of modern and contemporary art specializing in HIV/AIDS and queer and post-colonial practices across diverse media. He is also a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of York. His work has been featured in the Oxford Art Journal and Art History. (

Michael Dunford

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

Profane Feasts
Tom Tofnay
Atmosphere Press
9798891320437, $19.99, PB, 214pp

Synopsis: With an increasing multitude of Greeks stomping around metropolitan New York, Tom Tofnay noticed many of them seemed to be employed as corporals of the service industry-park attendants, apartment painters, supermarket clerks, and, especially, dishwashers, waitresses, and short-order cooks. This circumstance led him to wonder: How did it happen that these custodians, busboys, and counter girls ended up being the last remnants of the ancient architects of Western Civilization?

To explore this question, Tofnay began writing story chapters, which followed the exploits of one Greek family transplanted in Brooklyn, NY, as it wrestled to make sense of life in America from the 60s to the end of the 20th century. He used family feasts at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, a wedding, and a funeral as milestones in their journey, and labeled these feasts profane because of the unholy manner in which they were conducted. The profane feasts herein are narrated by Alexandros Dropolous, Jr., as he passes from childhood to young manhood and, ultimately, to his own wedding feast and the baptism of his son.

Whether their adventure had been carefully planned or pursued intuitively, Tofnay believed this family of Greeks in America was using their classical history as a kind of modern-day Trojan horse. The idea was not to topple our government which, after all, is held together by Greco-Roman ideas, but to replace their own lost greatness with the American dream by inserting themselves, patiently and unobtrusively, into one household, one coffee shop, one school, one house of worship at a time.

Critique: Showcasing author Tom Tofnay's genuine, impressive and exceptional flair for originality coupled with a knack for the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that intrigues, entertains, and fully engages his reader's full attention from start to finish, One of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Profane Feasts: from Atmospher Press is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, community, and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Profane Feasts" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) as well.

Project UrbEx
Ikumi Nakamura
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9780500026946, $50.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Fusing urban exploration with her trademark sense of wonder, famed videogame creator Ikumi Nakamura has spent over a decade infiltrating top-secret locations worldwide. Her daring escapades tap into a lost spirit of true adventure, proving that the world is still full of secrets and mystery, just waiting to be revealed. From derelict shipyards and military bases to colossal cooling towers, haunted hotels, and mystical islands, "Project UrbEx" is packed with places you thought could only exist in videogames.

Urban exploration is a way of life for those who choose it as their passion. The secrets and mysteries that disused places incite can be intoxicating and inspiring. As Nakamura has said, "I love breaking boundaries and making people say 'WOW.' As artists, we use our imagination to see the INVISIBLE."

With an informative foreword by videogame designer-turned-photographer Liam Wong, "Project UrbEx" also features sections of Nakamura's personal travel diaries, printed on pages with a narrower width in a rich Pantone black and illustrated by specially commissioned, exclusive manga -- bringing her much-loved sense of humor to the forefront of the narrative and displaying her keen interest in exploring many mediums of creativity.

Critique: This large format (8.5 x 1.1 x 11.4 inches, 3.06 pounds) hardcover edition of Ikurni Nakamura's "Project UrbEx" from Thames & Hudson features 620 color and black-and-white illustrations and deftly organized for the reader's benefit into four major sections: North America, Europe, Asia, and 'Location Classified'. Of special and particular appeal and relevance to readers with an interest in Architectural Photography, Photographer Monologues, and Video Game Art, "Project UrbEx is as fascinating as it is informative and thought-provoking. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Project UrbEx" is a unique and highly commended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary Photograpy collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Ikumi Nakamura is an independent creative, explorer, and videogame designer. Since 2004, she has explored and photographed abandoned and uninhabited places and spaces across Europe, Asia, and the United States to find inspiration for her games. Influenced by the videogame S.T.A.L.K.E.R., she created a mysterious style of wearing a hoodie and gas mask when exploring. She also aspires to become a secrets hunter on the Japanese TV show Discovery of the World's Mysteries. The experiences and records of her photography pursuits are published on the website Tomboy Urbex.

Paul T. Vogel

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

Tall Man in Ray-Bans (A John Tall Wolf Novel Book 1)
Joseph Flynn
Stray Dog Press, Inc.
B007FIQMHU, $3.99, 243 pages

Tall Man in Ray-Bans is an odd mix of Native American myths, paranormal, detective mystery and action adventure. Somehow this odd mix of genres works with this story. Tall Man is a fun escapist fantasy weekend read.

Skeletal remains are found in the drying out bed of Lake Travis in Austin. The remains are tentatively identified as a Native American fugitive. The FBI and local police start the investigation but BIA agent John Tall Wolf is also assigned the case and soon leads the investigation. Tall Wolf is fiercely independent with skills and knowledge that the city cops and FBI don't have. He soon is leading the investigation.

Tall Man in Ray-Bans is an easy recommendation for those readers who are looking for unusual characters and a fast paced twisty mystery read. Tall Man is a lighter tale that was written for fun reading.

The Jo Modeen Box Set: Books 1-3
Joseph Flynn
A Hope
B01ENX29IA ebook price: $4.99, 555 pages

Jo Modeen is a standard black ops operative tale. Action/adventure readers will recognize the stories immediately. The uniqueness of the story for most readers will be the Australian location and the female lead.

Modeen retires from the Australian Special Forces and gets recruited by her old commander to join a black ops team. This collection covers the first three books in the series that are linked to an old comrade who has gone rogue.

Even if the stories are not unique, the narration is smooth and the characters are interesting. Jo Modeen is recommended for the action/adventure reader who is looking for new characters and different locations for their next story. Readers new to action/adventure might find Modeen a nice introduction to the category.

S.A. Gorden
Senior Reviewer

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

The Gratitude Goggles: A Children's Book About Positivity and Appreciation of Life
Andrea Mendoza Vasconez, PhD, author
Rita Nilson, illustrator
Wholesome Children Books LLC
9798988022947, $13.99, PB, 31pp
9798988022947, $18.99 HC, 31pp

Synopsis: As parents, we want our children to grow up happy, healthy, and prosperous individuals. And what better way to achieve this than by teaching them the value of gratitude? Recent research has shown that gratitude positively affects our well-being and physical and mental health. But how can we instill this significant value in our children? That's where The Gratitude Goggles come in.

This delightful children's book takes young readers on a journey of discovery as they imagine a particular pair of goggles that can appear by simply feeling gratitude. The Gratitude Goggles reveal the world in its proper, colorful splendor and help children appreciate the beauty and wonder of everyday life.

The book also explains the dangers of comparison and want, which can cast a gray pall over everything - as if we were wearing gray goggles. But fear not; we can always trade our gray goggles for sparkling gratitude ones, illuminating life's wonders!

Critique: With its engaging story and colorful illustrations, The Gratitude Goggles is the perfect tool for parents, teachers, and caregivers to teach children about the power of gratitude. So why not give your child the gift of appreciation and help them see the world in a new light with The Gratitude Goggles?

Andrea Mendoza Vasconez's book is a literary masterpiece, where she eloquently delves into the significance of gratitude in society. Her vibrant book educates and entertains, making it a must-read for those seeking an essential life lesson that is a fun way to explore.

Editorial Note: Suggested reading ages 2-8 years old.

Laurie Devine
Garden of Neuro Publishing
9780233986739, $26.51, HC, 669pp
9798987678725, $53.21 PB, 680pp (Arrow Books, 1993)

Synopsis: Kronos takes readers on a journey of love, war, and tragedy. The story follows the beautiful 19-year-old Marika, who follows an age-old secret formula for eternal love and seduces her lover Christos in the magical Cave of the Great Goddess.

However, Yorgos, Christos's brother, who's consumed by hatred for his brother and love for Marika, poses a threat to their love. As the Civil War rages around their remote Greek village, the three are bound forever in a hopeless triangle. Marika's decision to marry Yorgos brings anguish to Christos, who, having escaped to America, is unaware of her plight.

Eventually, during the politically volatile '60s, both brothers rise to power, Yorgos with the military junta that takes control of Greece, and Christos towards a seat in the U.S. Congress. How will Marika fit into these powerful men's world?

Critique: Kronos is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a captivating story of love and war with a touch of heartfelt magic. The author superbly develops the characters, and the plot makes a powerful impact on the reader.

Laurie Devine's work has significantly affected and left a lasting impression on the hearts of her readers, who will remember it for a long time. Her characters are more than just ink on paper; they are vibrant, captivating souls that leap off the pages.

This story is a masterpiece that cries out to be shown on the silver screen. Devine's talent is far surpassed, and I predict good things are in store for this author and her name is one that readers should look out for in future offerings.

Eleanor Addy Binnings
Voices of Experience
9798987678725, $15.00 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 358pp

Synopsis: In July 1970, Micky, a young teen from Denver, desperately prayed to lose her memory. She longed to forget her complicated past, including her missing father and estranged mother. With her older, challenging husband Wally unaware of her past, Micky sought refuge in her father's cabin in the mountains. Alone and free to sing and write her memories, Micky embarked on a journey of self-discovery, hoping to bury her past and start anew.

Despite her hopes, Micky knew running away did not guarantee a better life. However, she received an answer to her prayers when she wrote GODISNOWHERE in her journal. Through her journey, Micky found the peace and freedom she had been searching for, and her experiences as a runaway gave her a new perspective on life. Join us in celebrating Micky's journey of self-discovery and the hope it brings to others facing their challenges.

Critique: Solo tramp is a captivating story that follows a woman whose life is unexpectedly chaotic, forcing her to navigate the debris of her shattered world. This emotional journey embarks on a path of resilience, courage, and, ultimately, redemption. Get ready to be moved by the powerful narrative and the unwavering spirit of the human soul.

Eleanor Addy Binnings' latest book has captivated readers with its rich emotions. Binnings has outdone herself with this masterpiece, weaving together a gripping plot and relatable characters that will keep you turning the pages until the end. Her writing style is both eloquent and emotional, drawing you in and making you feel every word. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a story that will tug at your heartstrings.

This Wicked City (Ocean Park Series)
Michael Walsh
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
9781509252664, $16.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 258 PP

Synopsis: Dive into the gripping world of Ocean Park, a factory town in northern Massachusetts plagued by rising crime and corruption. As the police and fire departments stage a work slowdown in protest of a pay freeze, Police Detective Matt Conley stands out in his quest for justice.

Join him on a thrilling journey as he teams up with the victim's friend, Emmanuel, to solve a murder that unravels a web of deceit and danger. Encounter a cast of intriguing characters, including Voudou worshipers, a powerful real estate magnate, and a love-struck arsonist, all intertwined in a tale of love, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Critique: This Wicked City promises to keep readers on the edge with its enthralling mystery and compelling narrative. Immerse yourself in the vividly depicted world of the city, where danger lurks around every corner, and secrets abound.

Michael Walsh has outdone himself in writing this book. His writing is superb, showcasing his talent and skills on every page. Once you start reading, you won't be able to put the book down. The plot's twists and turns will keep you guessing until the end, and the surprises in store will leave you breathless. We invite you to discover the thrilling world of Michael Walsh's writing and see why he is a must-read author.

Pisa Loves Bella: A Towering Tale of Kindness
Kimberly Lovato, author
Barbara Bongini, illustrator
MB Publishing LLC
9788987140161, $22.95, HC, 44pp
9798987140185 $TBA, PB
9788987140178, $TBA Kindle

Synopsis: Welcome to Pisa, where Bella, the bell tower, stands tall and proud. For centuries, the famous tower has defied gravity with her famous tilt, but one day, Bella overhears hurtful words about her appearance that shatter her confidence. With a heavy heart, Bella makes a significant change, leaving the residents of Pisa and visitors from around the world worried about their beloved historical monument.

But fear not, for Pisa loves Bella just the way she is! This uplifting rhyming tale, filled with joyful art and Italian expressions, teaches us the importance of kindness towards others and ourselves. Bella's journey of self-acceptance is a celebration of our unique qualities and a reminder to embrace what makes us different.

So come along and experience the sweet taste of spumoni as we follow Bella's inspiring story of self-love and acceptance. Pisa Loves Bella is a heartfelt and memorable tale that will warm your heart and leave you with a smile.

Critique: Pisa Loves Bella is a heartwarming tale that will take readers worldwide to Pisa, Italy, while teaching important life lessons about self-acceptance and kindness towards others. The story is beautifully told and will appeal to all ages.

Talented author Kimberley Lovato has written an exceptional book filled with the artist's bright and colorful illustrations that perfectly capture the essence of a memorable read. I highly recommend this book to parents looking for a fun and engaging story to share with their children. Kimberley Lovato and Barbara Bongini have done an outstanding job with this book, which will leave a lasting impression.

Editorial Note: Suggested reading ages 4-8 years old.

Out of Body
Kimberly Baer
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
9781509253074, $18.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 336 PP

Synopsis: Step into the extraordinary world of Abby Kendrick, where dreams transcend into reality, and out-of-body experiences become the norm. Join Abby on a thrilling journey as she unlocks the mysteries of the astral plane alongside her cousin Logan.

What starts as a playful exploration of newfound abilities soon escalates into a daring quest filled with danger and uncertainty. Can Abby's courage and determination save Logan and guide her back home, or will they forever find themselves trapped in the enigmatic realms of the astral plane?

Prepare for an adventure like no other, where the boundaries between dreams and reality blur, and the true essence of bravery is put to the ultimate test.

Critique: Out of Body is a captivating book packed with suspense, adventure, and a strong female lead who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth and defeat evil.

Follow the fearless protagonist as she navigates through a paranormal world, piecing together clues and solving puzzles. With every page turn, you'll be on the edge of your seat, eagerly expecting what comes next.

Kimberly Baer, your dedication and attention to detail shine through every page, setting your book apart and showcasing your mastery of being an author. This book stands out and fills a unique space in the literary world by offering elements that many others lack. The hard work and talent have paid off, and I can't wait to see where your literary journey takes you next. Congratulations on this well-deserved achievement!

How to Get a Job and Keep a Job
Keith Calhoun-Senghor, author
Liv Senghor, illustrator
John and Courtney Publishing, LLC
9798987423707, $34.95, HC, 300pp
9788987423745, $24.95, Audiobook

Synopsis: Are you a student, intern, or someone starting or changing your career? Do you want to succeed in the cutthroat world of corporate job politics? Look no further! Keith Calhoun-Senghor's "How to Get a Job and Keep a Job: The Fundamentals of Organizational Politics - The Things They Don't Teach You In School" is your ultimate guide to navigating the stormy seas of the job world.

Based on the author's extensive experience as a senior official in the US Government and Senior Counsel with major international law firms, this no-nonsense job survival manual offers 24 practical and brutally honest rules to help you succeed in jobs in the United States, Europe, or anywhere else in the world.

This guide covers you from mastering critical job interview strategies to what elements are required to make a good solid impression in the corporate world. Arm yourself with the best defense to conquer the job market and learn the skills that will set you high above the competition.

Critique: How to Get a Job and Keep a Job. This essential guide is a game changer for young professionals or anyone who is looking to jumpstart their careers. Anyone serious about success must read this informative book, which is filled with practical tips and real-world advice.

Keith Calhoun-Senghor has authored an exceptional book that provides unparalleled insight into the job market and how one can land a lucrative career.

This book is essential for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of the topic. Keith Calhoun-Senghor's writing style is clear and concise, making it easy to follow along and absorb the information. He provides practical tips and strategies backed by research, ensuring readers can trust and incorporate the advice into their own lives.

The Lizard in Lizzy's Gizzard
Charles Page
Spoonful of Courage Publishers LLC
9781958827116, $23.99 HC, 32pp
9781958827093, $2.99 Kindle (Ages 1-12)

Synopsis: Get ready to embark on a side-splitting journey with Lizzy and Lazarus in The Lizard in Lizzy's Gizzard which is a delightful kid's picture book that will leave readers in stitches.

Follow Lizzy's hilarious escapades with an unexpected guest, a chameleon lizard named Lazarus, and discover the importance of enduring unjust situations, sincere prayer, and working together in life's challenges. But this book is more than just a funny story about a lizard; it also touches on themes of choices and consequences, truth-telling, and creative thinking.

With a whimsical twist on picture books that feature beloved characters that will capture your heart, it adds to the book's charm and humor. Will Lazarus survive in the green, smelly gizzard, or will he meet a muddy end?

Critique: The Lizard in Lizzy's Gizzard is a fun-loving book that promises to mesmerize adults and children. Get ready to embark on a magical journey like never before as you immerse yourself in the delightful world created by Charles Page. Stay tuned for an unforgettable adventure to spark your imagination and warm your heart!

Charles Page writing has exceeded my expectations. This captivating read is a delightful blend of fun and valuable life lessons, making it a must-have for book lovers of all ages.

Murder in Concrete
Arthur Coburn
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
9781509253388, $19.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 335 pages

Synopsis: In the midst of a high school drama and a chilling rivalry, Charlie remained unfazed by the gossip and death glares. However, her world turns upside down when she learns that someone has murdered her mother and her father has mysteriously disappeared. Struggling to cope with this chaos, therapy becomes her lifeline, guiding her to college, where an unexpected discovery reignites her determination.

A fleeting glimpse of her missing father in a film sets Charlie on a quest to uncover the truth, leading her to the bustling city of Los Angeles. Following a promising lead, she's immersed in a peculiar low-budget zombie movie production in the desolate desert. Despite being told that her father has passed away, Charlie refuses to give up on her search.

As she delves deeper into the mystery, Charlie encounters a diverse cast of characters, from an aging film star to a mysterious man with Russian Cyrillic script. Will these enigmatic figures hold the key to finding her father? Or will Charlie unearth a truth that shatters her world?

Critique: Murder in Concrete is a gripping mystery novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat! This book overflows with unexpected twists and turns. It is a must-read for all mystery enthusiasts. Prepare to immerse yourself in a thrilling story that will leave you guessing until the end.

Arthur Coburn. is a masterful storyteller; this book is a testament to Coburn's prowess in the world of mystery literature. Dive into the pages and experience the intrigue, suspense, and brilliance that make him a standout in the mystery genre.

Spells and Sandwiches: West Side Witches Book 1
Kate Moseman
Fortunella Press
9781957320229, $15.99 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 205 pages

Synopsis: Join Zelda Hawkins, a sandwich maker from a small town, as she embarks on a thrilling adventure in the heart of Manhattan's culinary scene. When a vampire offers her free rent in her family's old restaurant for repairing a magical mirror, Zelda's life takes an unexpected turn.

With a motley crew that consists of a rescue poodle, a mind-reading fire witch, a smoldering ex-boyfriend, and a hot Brooklyn hipster, Zelda discovers a world of witches, vampires, and fae, where masks and mirrors are only the beginning of her unexpected adventure.

As she navigates this new and dangerous world, Zelda must use the magic inherited from her grandmother to overcome her challenges. Enjoy a delightful and charismatic tale filled with magic, romance, and culinary delights!

Critique: Spells and Sandwiches is a captivating book that will enchant and mesmerize readers of all ages. It overflows with a thrilling mix of mystery, intrigue, and paranormal wonders.

Kate Moseman has outdone herself with this book and series, and the literary world is celebrating this new series. If you enjoy paranormal fiction, then brace yourself for an unforgettable reading experience with this exciting paranormal book!

With this masterpiece, readers have been left spellbound and craving for more. With its engaging storyline, relatable characters, and vivid descriptions, Spells and Sandwiches have become a must-read for anyone looking for an unforgetable reading experience.

Editorial Note: This book was previously published as Undercover Paranormal.

The F.L.U.S.H. Files: Pass the Gas
Darryl Kluskowski
Tiny Giants Publishing
9798990039209, $14.99, PB, 100pp

Synopsis: Are you ready to join the top-secret agency F.L.U.S.H. and help protect the world from the evil forces of D.R.A.I.N.? Award-winning cartoonist and children's writer Darryl Kluskowski has created a highly entertaining book for young readers that will have you laughing out loud.

The F.L.U.S.H. Files follows two kids through wild and hilarious misadventures. With engaging graphic art and clever writing, this unique and inventive book provides a high adventure ride. Get ready for high-tech crime-fighting and skillful potty humor that will keep you entertained from beginning to end.

Critique: The F.L.U.S.H. Files is a hilarious masterpiece that will tickle your funny bone. With its perfect blend of action, humor, and intrigue, I predict this book will become a fan favorite.

Darryl Kluskowski is a superb cartoonist and writer. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, Darryl has quickly risen to new heights as he takes the literary world by storm with his combination of being a skilled artist and a talented writer. His unique combination of skills allows him to bring his stories to life so few others can match.

Darryl infuses his work with wonder and delight, whether he is crafting a whimsical children's book or creating art. His attention to detail and dedication to his craft are clear in every chapter he creates. Its witty humor and delightful cast of characters assure this book will stand out from the competition.

The Secret Doors of Cannondale
Stephanie Brick
Raritan River Publishing
9798989475414, $20.99, HC, 232pp
9798989475407, $12.99, PB
9798989475421, $7.00, Kindle

Synopsis: Get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure with Adeline Perle in The Secret Doors of Cannondale (Book One of The Cannondale Chronicles!) for young readers ages 10 - 12. This enchanting book takes you on a journey through extraordinary realms filled with magical creatures, good and evil, and a young girl's quest to find her way back home.

Adeline's story is relatable to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, craving to build lasting friendships. Her discovery of a secret treasure behind a hidden door leads her to portals of wonder and magic. But not all friends are as they seem, and Adeline soon finds herself in the middle of a war over a secret she didn't even know she possessed. Will she be strong enough to defeat those intent to destroy her?

Critique: The Secret Doors of Cannondale will transport the reader to a world of imagination and excitement. You'll root for Adeline as she faces her greatest fears and overcomes obstacles to save the universe's magic. This must-read adventure book is perfect for all ages, whether you're a young reader or a child at heart. Don't miss the opportunity to discover a magical world in Cannondale!

Stephanie Brick's debut masterpiece showcases her exceptional writing skills and will take you on a magical journey you will remember. This fabulous book is a must-read for anyone who loves to escape into the pages of a captivating story. The variety of characters makes for an interesting reading experience, where you can't wait to turn the next page to discover what is to come.

So Who is God, Anyway?
G.S. Payne
Five Boroughs Media & Publishing
9798989474912, $24.99 HC, 240pp
9798989474905, $19.99 PB, 9798989474929, Kindle

Synopsis: Are you tired of the false choice between the traditional sky God and atheism? Do you crave a deeper understanding of God? If you're searching for an innovative book, consider G.S. Payne's thought-provoking book, "So Who is God, Anyway?: An (UN) orthodox Theory for Doubters, Skeptics, and Recovering Fundamentalists"

Drawing on over thirty years of investigation and the wisdom of the greatest philosophers of both East and West philosophy, Payne presents a bold theory that challenges conventional thinking and provides an interesting alternative.

With humor, wit, and thought-provoking insights, Payne makes a convincing case that there is more to God than meets the eye. Whether you're a skeptic, a doubter, or a recovering fundamentalist, this book will entertain and enlighten. Join the conversation and discover a new way to consider the biggest questions of our existence.

Critique: So Who is God, Anyway? Is a captivating book delves deep into the decisive question of who God is, with over 30 years of research presented in a fascinating exploration. Readers embark on a journey of discovery that challenges their beliefs and expands their understanding of the divine.

G.S. Payne presents a bold writing style that explores the beginning of humanity with a fearless approach. He tackles life-changing topics that will leave you feeling inspired and empowered. Payne's work captivates and challenges individuals to think beyond what they have been taught, whether they seek personal growth or a new perspective on life.

The Rise of the Legends
Jake Zortman
Good Harbor Entertainment
9798989672103, $9.99 Kindle, $14.99 PB, 353 pages

Synopsis: Are you ready for an adventure that will take you on a journey of discovery and danger? When her family moves into a creepy old house, Mikaela Kadono, a young girl, experiences being uprooted from her familiar life and thrust into a new world of mystery and intrigue. Mikaela's luck turns around when she meets George, who invites her to join The Drone Legends club. Little does she know that this will be the start of an epic adventure that will change her life forever.

On their first mission, The Drone Legends encounter a talking AI drone that seems to be far beyond any available technology. As they search for answers, Mikaela and her new friend discover a cryptic message from the past hidden in riddles and codes within the walls of her old house. Together, they embark on a quest to solve the mystery that takes them on a perilous journey from adventure on the high seas to secret tunnels deep beneath the ground.
Join this thrilling journey as we follow clues, solve puzzles, and uncover secrets leading to the mastermind behind this evil plan to destroy the world. Will Mikaela and George be able to use their wit and expertise to help stop the sinister plot of destruction? Or will they be putting themselves in a pathway of danger?

Critique: The Rise of the Legends is a gripping novel that will take you on a drama, mystery, and intrigue high action ride. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves a good page-turner.

Jake Zortman has proven he is a master of this genre! Get ready to embark on an epic adventure with this expertly crafted plot and well-developed characters that captivate you from beginning to end. With his unique style, Zortman has created a mesmerizing world that will leave you breathless. Immerse yourself in the thrilling journey of The Rise of the Legends and experience the magic this incredible story offers.

Angel Finally Found His Wings
Ronald Hunter
Page Publishing Inc.
9798889603375, $30.00 HC, 240pp
9798887930107, $8.99, PB, $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Angel Finally Found His Wings, is an intimate and candid memoir that takes readers on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption.

In this powerful book, twelve-year-old "Angel" shares his harrowing experience of surviving life on the streets as a prostitute. Forced to share a room with his manipulative pimp at the YMCA in New York, Charlie, Angel finds himself trapped in a dangerous world where his own mother's battle with schizophrenia and Charlie's blackmail threatens to destroy him.

Set against the backdrop of 1970s New York, a city plagued by crime and turmoil, Angel's story unfolds with raw honesty and gripping detail. Despite the unimaginable circumstances, Angel maintains a facade of normalcy with his family, classmates, and football buddies in Brooklyn. But behind closed doors, he faces life-threatening situations while hustling to survive.

Critique: Through the dual consciousness of a growing teenage boy and our first-person narrator looking back on his life, Angel Finally Found His Wings offers a profoundly emotional and unflinchingly honest account of one boy's resilience and determination to break free from the shackles of his past.

Ronald Hunter bears his heart and soul in this gripping and inspiring story, taking us on a journey of triumph over adversity. The book sheds light on the darker corners of society while reminding us of the importance of compassion and understanding.

Angel Finally Found His Wings is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of hope. Through Angel's story, we witness the transformative power of resilience and self-discovery. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking an unforgettable tale of survival and redemption.

River and the Amazing Yellow Wellie Adventure
(Book 1 of the Yellow Wellie Adventure Series)
Emily Dreeling, author
Misha Jovanovic, illustrator
Rising River Press LLC
9798985310528, $12.99, $9.99 Kindle, 68 pages

Synopsis: Imagine a journey to the top of a mystical mountain with four young pairs of yellow wellies and their little owner, River, to seek answers to life's biggest questions from three wise older women. Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Well, this adventure is about to become a reality! Join them as they embark on a thrilling and unforgettable journey that will push the boundaries of our imagination.

The trail won't be easy, and the challenges will be tough, but with our unwavering determination and the power of our collective wisdom, will they conquer it all and find the answers they are seeking?

Critique: Dive into a world of wonder and imagination with River and the Amazing Yellow Wellie Adventure! This delightful book is not just masterfully illustrated, but it also captures the essence of childhood adventure and curiosity.

Each turn of the page will transport you to a world where anything is possible, and each picture will bring the story to life in vivid detail. Let your imagination run wild and join River on a journey you will never forget!

Emily Dreeling has written a captivating story that will transport you to a world of wonder and imagination. As a talented author with a gift for storytelling,

Dreeling has created a literary masterpiece that will delight readers of all ages. This book is a testament to her skill as a storyteller and her ability to create worlds that capture the imagination and inspire the soul.

Editorial Note: The suggested reading age is 1-10 years.

In Search of Justice: Mid Dreki Realm Book 1
Rene Vecka
Independently Published
9781958049006 (Paperback), 314 pages
9781958049020, $24.99 HC, 978
1958049006, $11.99 PB, 314 pages
B0BCNXVW7Z, $3.99 Kindle, $21.83 Audio Book

Synopsis: Vidarr Allefar, a skilled bounty hunter to the Gods, is on a mission to hunt down a notorious swordsman turned killer in the perilous wilds and the dangerous human city of Hjulstadt.

However, as an outcast and misfit exiled from his true home, Vidarr must navigate the politics and discrimination against his kind to succeed. With his life and the lives of his kin on the line, will Vidarr be able to rise to the challenge and complete his mission?

Join Vidarr on his quest for redemption in the thrilling adventure of In Search of Justice as he untangles the mystery and fights for his chance to return to his estranged home. Join him on this epic journey of danger, mystery, and intrigue.

Critique: In Search of Justice is a thrilling novel that takes you to a magical world where the hero, Vidarr, faces powerful creatures using only his strength and determination.

Rene Vecka is a true literary genius. With an intricately woven plot full of unexpected twists and turns, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The well-developed and engaging characters will make you feel like you're with them, experiencing their triumphs and struggles firsthand. And with the addition of magic and the supernatural, Vidarr's problems will become your own. This interesting series is assured to go down in history.

My ABC "Chair" Book
Barbara H. Hartsfield
Book Baby
9798987590409, $23.99 HC, $4.99, Kindle, 36 pages

Synopsis: If you are looking for an innovative and engaging way to introduce your child to the world of the alphabet, look no further than My ABC "Chair" Book. This pictorial early learning book helps young children learn the alphabet while exploring the fascinating world of chairs.

The book features pictures of various chairs from the author's 3,000 Guinness World Record collection, each representing a different alphabet letter. From candy canes, clocks, teapots and bookends, the chair designs are as diverse as they are intriguing. The first alphabet naming the chair's category is enlarged and colored, making it easy for children to recognize the specific alphabet.

This book is not just about learning the alphabet. It's about exploring the world of chairs and discovering their different purposes. These chairs serve purposes other than sitting, such as decoration, storage, and play. Each chair design will amaze your child with its creativity and ingenuity.

The collection includes chairs made from various materials, such as wood, glass, ceramics, yarn, metal, iron, and attachments. Each one is a piece of art in itself to view and provides a fascinating way that it's interwoven into learning the alphabet.

Critique: My ABC "Chair" Book is more than just a book - it's a learning experience your child will treasure for years. The beauty of these chairs helps teach an essential life lesson to children.

Barbara H. Hartsfield presents an innovative approach to teaching the alphabet to children through her love of chair collecting. By incorporating her passion for chairs, Barbara has created a fun and engaging program to help children uniquely learn their ABCs.

This book introduces children to various chairs, each representing a different alphabet letter, through an engaging visual learning experience. Hartsfield's book is educational, fun, and interactive, making learning a joyful experience for children. It will positively affect young learners, and I look forward to hearing more about her creative initiatives in the future.

Editorial Note: The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded Barbara H. Hartsfield's unique 3,000-chair collection. Newspapers, magazines, books, TV, and PBS radio have featured her. The suggested reading age for this book is baby to 5 years.

The Queen of the Platform
Susan Higginbothan
Onslow Press
9781737474937, $15.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 372 pages

Synopsis: Join us on a journey through history and discover the remarkable story of Ernestine, a woman who defied conventions and fought for her beliefs. Born in Poland during the Napoleonic wars, Ernestine learned from a young age to question everything and accept nothing unquestioningly. This led her to reject her father's religion, and an arranged marriage and to embark on a journey to America in 1836.

Arriving in New York, Ernestine was struck by the injustices she saw around her and was determined to make a difference. Despite the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated society, she fearlessly took to the public speaking platform to advocate for the abolition of slavery and women's rights alongside renowned activists such as Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Ernestine faced public scorn and ridicule for her unwavering commitment to her beliefs, but she refused to be silenced. Will her voice stay strong as she tries to convince those to believe in her words?

Critique: The Queen of the Platform tells the powerful story of a woman who refuses to stay silent in the face of injustice, using her voice to fight for what is she believed to be right.

Susan Higginbothan's inspiring book is a shining example of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The protagonist's journey will move readers through her struggles, inspire them with her courage, and uplift them with her triumphs. Higginbotham's masterful storytelling will leave you spellbound and deeply touched. This is a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

The Mannamong - Volume 1
Michael Adam Lengyel
Independently Published
9781732563230, $14.99, PB, 192 pages (Ages 8-12)

Synopsis: Step into a world where mythical guardian spirits are not just a folktale but a reality. This urban fantasy comic series takes you on a journey with Kali Teal, who discovers the truth about the mannamong after being cured of a severe and unexplainable illness by them.

As Kali delves deeper into the spiritual realm, she realizes that the mannamong are not just benevolent protectors of nature but can also have their mysterious incentives. The unsettling relationship that unfolds between Kali and her tormentor will leave you on the edge of your seat. Can she trust the mannamong or not?

Critique: Get ready for a series that will leave you spellbound! The Mannamong has arrived and is ready to captivate you with its riveting storyline and lovable characters. Don't be surprised if you root for them from the first episode!

With a cast that will win your heart and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is a show you won't want to miss. So, grab your popcorn, settle in, and let the Mannamong magic transport you to a world of adventure and excitement!

Michael Adam Lengyel is the mastermind behind the captivating The Mannamong series! Not only does he have an exceptional writing talent, but he's also a gifted illustrator who has brought this fantastical world to life through his stunning artwork.

From the first page of The Mannamong series, you'll be transported into a vivid and imaginative world that Michael created. His illustrations perfectly capture the essence of the story and its characters, making it impossible to put down.

Editorial Note: Suggested reading age 8-12.

The Mannamong - Volume 2
Michael Adam Lengyel
Independently Published
9781732563247, $14.99, PB, 204 pages (Ages 8-12)

Synopsis: Once revered as the protectors of humanity, the mannamong spirits have become nothing more than a distant memory. But for Kali, these mythical beings are all too real, as she battles to reclaim her humanity from the clutches of Tontorus, a rogue mannamong who has taken over her soul.

As Kali struggles to keep her transformation at bay and evade the mannamong hunters on her trail, the fate of her very existence hangs in the balance. Will she succumb to the power within, or will she find the strength to overcome and reclaim her humanity?

Critique: Get ready to embark on a heart-racing journey with The Mannamong - Volume 2 - the latest addition to the collection of The Mannamong gripping reads. From the very first page, the thrilling plot and captivating characters 'll hook you.

With its fast-paced action and unexpected twists, The Mannamong - Volume 2 will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.

Michael Adam Lengyel's writing skills and artistic talents are extraordinary. With each page in turn, he'll transport you to a world of wonder and adventure you won't want to leave. From heartwarming scenes to gripping thrillers, Michael's stories will surely leave you captivated and begging for more.

Editorial Note: Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee for Best Webcomic, 2023.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design