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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 5 May 2015 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf
Richard's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Cowper's Bookshelf

Screw College Debt
Marco Leroc
Ascendant Press
PO Box 93, Omaha, NE 68010
9780990361244 $16.95

Screw College Debt: How To Go To College Without Breaking the Bank lives up to its title as a practical-minded guide to pursuing one's educational goals without amassing an onerous amount of debt. Unlike other types of loans, student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy in the vast majority of cases. The burden of paying student loans back will hamper efforts to buy a home or start a business; worse, interest and fees can balloon the original loan to untenable proportions! So what are the alternatives to excessive debt? Chapters discuss the value of community colleges as a cheaper source of credits that can be transferred to a traditional university, scholarships, the online education revolution (taking courses online can potentially yield tremendous savings!), loan repayment plans and student debt forgiveness programs, and much more. Equally important is meticulous self-assessment - determining whether college is the best choice for one's career goals, and learning how to "be cool with money"! "Many schools are also offering the opportunity to complete a degree in as little as three years, while still enjoying the same benefits as four-year programs. To make this possible, schools have designed curriculum in some majors to fit a three-year time schedule. This means aggressive fall and spring class schedules as well as summer sessions."

Paths to Healthy Aging
Mehrdad Ayati, M.D. and Arezou Azarani, Ph.D., authors
Philip L. Hubbard, Ph.D., editor
Privately Published
9781502321176 $12.99 pbk. / $6.99 Kindle

Paths to Healthy Aging is a workbook for readers of all backgrounds, about maintaining one's health throughout the aging process. Geriatrician Dr. Mehrdad (Mike) Ayati discusses the critical importance of nutrition and a balanced diet, mental health concerns, ways to minimize problems with increased frailty, the problem of overmedication, how to find a reliable geriatrician, and more. Black-and-white photography demonstrating simple yet recommended physical exercises complements the medically sound and practical advice in this "must-read" for anyone approaching retirement age, as well as the adult children and/or caretakers of elderly individuals. Highly recommended!

The Pirate Empress
Deborah Cannon
Privately Published
9781502397768 $26.99

The Pirate Empress is a blend of historical novel and Asian fantasy epic, set during the era when the Ming Dynasty ruled China. The protagonist Li is a palace runaway, prophesied to bear China's greatest Son of Heaven. Both the Emperor and a Mongol warlord are out to destroy her, and thwart the prophecy that will unseat them from power. War engulfs the Wall, pirates terrorize the south coast, and Li's young son is kidnapped. Her soldier lover and warlock grandfather are unable to aid her in her quest to save her son. At the mercy of the pirates, she is forced into marriage to a cruel admiral, and must learn how to survive the cruelty of man and sea alike. To rescue her son, she must not only navigate horrific perils, but also find a way to fight back against the corrosive Fox Faerie, whose corruptive magic threatens to eradicate human civilization. The Pirate Empress is a sweeping odyssey, captivating from cover to cover.

Christina George
Privately Published
c/o Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (publicity)
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781505362657 $20.00

Book three of the "The Publicist" saga, Climax continues the story of Kate Mitchell, head of a successful publishing house. Kate has made mistakes in the past, especially when she broke the heart of her former fiance Nick Lavigne. But her life has come to a fairly good place - she's well-off, engaged to the devilishly handsome Mac Ellis, and about to sign her biggest-name author yet. Then, things start falling apart. Nick is back in town, and happens to be the brother of the author she's trying to sign. As Kate copes with one life-changing revelation after another, she must question every choice that has brought her to this staggered point. Passionate and romantic, Climax is a life journey of choices and their long-term consequences, thought-provoking and lucid from cover to cover.

Be Positive, No Matter What - Miracles Do Happen, Book Two
Karen J. Nolan
Bootstrap Publishing Institute
54 Forest Ave., Rochester, NY 14622
9780692351857 $15.99

Be Positive, No Matter What - Miracles Do Happen, Book Two is the true-life testimony of author Karen J. Nolan, a survivor of breast cancer. In the course of her treatments, she experienced two divine miracles. Be Positive, No Matter What collects vignettes of her trying medical difficulties (including severe headaches and lymphedema), her prayers to God, her gratitude to the many people who supported her through trying times, and finding beauty in the smallest and most innocuous things. "I will write of the blessings I received throughout my treatments. No matter what, no matter how bad it gets you have to stay positive. God is watching over us all the time and he is there to help, all you need to do is ask." Colorful embellishments of rainbows, angels, and more enhance this spiritually uplifting memoir.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Out from the Underworld
Heather Siegel
Greenpoint Press
9780990619406 $9.99 ebook / $20.00 pbk.

Most memoirs are autobiographical reflections on personal events that are pretty cut and dried: traumas happen, worlds change, survival mechanisms are developed, and life goes on.

But Out from the Underworld offers something different in the memoir world: its title sounds like science fiction, it reads with all the compelling drama of a thriller, yet it actually is the story of Heather Siegel, whose mother disappeared from the family and whose father abandoned his children: a story developed with all the trappings of a good mystery.

Forty years later she is still asking questions, and Out from the Underworld documents not only her survival of a broken childhood and family, but its lasting (and surprisingly positive) effects on her own family: "I want her to know how loved she is. I want her to know that I will always be that single person in her life who will put her needs before my own, if only because, or especially because, I know too well how it feels to be without that person-- floating without a center when the gravitational force of the family disappears."

It's about how adults make choices, their effects on children, and in turn how further choices are made for future generations - and most of all, Out from the Underworld details not just survival, adaptation and healing, but how Siegel forged a life above and beyond any label of 'victim' or 'damaged' - and perhaps this is its greatest strength, setting the read apart from a mere story of struggle and survival.

Through Siegel's experience, readers learn about role reversals and maternal instinct and its applications and importance. Readers learn about behavior patterns both positive and negative and how what seems familiar isn't necessarily what's best. And, they'll learn about folk who just 'exist': something the author fears: "...many were just self-acknowledged failures who'd tried to make it "out there" and had fallen instead to the depths of the white goods department. People who accepted their misery as penance for not trying harder in life. And it scared the hell out of me."

The 'Underworld' in Siegel's story is more than the basement apartment that thinly veiled personal hells: it's about mental attitude and how lasting, positive change is achieved against all odds, and it's about accepting parents for who they are rather than who they "should" or could become.

Any who have struggled with their own family hell and idiosyncrasies (either minor or major) will find Out from the Underworld illuminates the course of one woman's transformation and, in the process, serves as a beacon guiding pathways of possibility for others to follow.

Brave: A Painfully Shy Life
Helen Rivas-Rose
Periwinkle Publishing
9780982743393 $7.99 Kindle $16.95 paperback

Brave: A Painfully Shy Life is "dedicated to shy people everywhere" and is a memoir documenting the author's personal struggles with chronic shyness.

While one might expect the audience for such a survey to be shy readers in similar situations, let's not forget its secondary audience: friends and family of the shy person who want insights on how better to support their loved ones, and educators and counselors working with shy clients.

Shyness is a condition that affects everybody involved, so it's fitting that Brave has an alluring title and a presentation that will involve the shy reader and those around them.

Helen Rivas-Rose may be writing about her personal struggles with shyness, but her memoir also reveals how courage and power lie at the heart of the shy person who would capitalize on traumatic experiences to become a fuller, richer person.

Inspirational chapters document this process, always using the author's experience to reveal common perceptions, misconceptions, and facts about shyness. But don't expect any quick revelations or pat formulas here: while Rivas-Rose maintains that she was able to overcome her shyness to build a rich network of relationships, there are no easy answers for those who would follow in her footsteps.

And perhaps this is Brave's greatest strength: by presenting her transformation in a memoir form, not as a self-help title, many more readers will feel compelled to read about her transition and, in so doing, will find food for thought on the processes involved in making their own changes.

From a lifetime of loneliness and pain to her determination in mid-life to take charge of her shyness and become something greater, Rivas-Rose uses her own emotions to help readers tap into their hidden strengths.

Any shy reader will readily recognize themselves in Rivas-Rose's experiences: "As most severely shy people know, one of the worst consequences of shyness is being unable to talk about yourself in a sincere fashion. If I'd learned how to get and be close to people, to make friends, my childhood pain almost certainly would have lessened years earlier. Not having these skills stunted my social and emotional growth more than anything else. And because I found no one to share my experiences with, I didn't learn how to express myself, which in turn, decimated my self-confidence."

It's also important to note two appendixes: one consisting of a compendium of steps, ideas and articles outlining different approaches to eliminate shyness; the other presenting a talk the author gave at her Unitarian Universalist Church celebrating the concept of friends. Coming from one who didn't have friends for decades, it's quite an eye-opener.

Her journey is one many will be making: those who want to see change in their lives will find Brave: A Painfully Shy Life a powerful memoir documenting the process not just of one woman's blossoming, but the impetus involved in personal transformation as a whole.

This reviewer doesn't usually give star ratings but since Brave has already earned such elsewhere, suffice it to say that it's well-deserved.


Arctic Shadow
Joanne Sundell
Five Star Publishing/Gale Cengage Learning
10 Water Street, Suite 310
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432830083 $25.95

Arctic Shadow provides Book Two of the Watch Eyes Trilogy and is set in 1909 Alaska, when the grueling three-day race is over and the Siberian huskies face deadly danger. Something has murdered one of their pack members: something or someone strong enough to threaten all of the Chukchi dogs imported to America's last frontier.

It should be evident, by now, that Arctic Shadow comes from animal perceptions; but its unique blend of historical and fantasy genres is something few readers will anticipate, making its audience as mercurial and unique as its arctic setting.

Fans of history should be prepared for the feel of London's Call of the Wild, while fantasy readers will discover the book features many unexpected historical elements. Because this is Book Two of a series, it continues the story of the Siberian huskies and their young human guardians, Native-Chukchi, Anya and Viking-descended Rune.

It was a brilliant move adding these human elements to the huskies' story: by choosing this approach, Arctic Shadow comes from many perspectives; not just one, and holds the ability to involve a wider audience than those who seek stories told from animal viewpoints alone.

The origins of sled dog racing and its rich culture, the unexpected triumph of the Siberian husky over mixed-malamute teams, the coming-of-age story of a girl and a boy committed to saving their dogs, and the challenges of life in rugged Nome around the turn of the century: all these elements create an adventure story that weaves romance and courage into its mystic plot.

It would have been all too easy for Arctic Shadow's action and drama to have superseded its historical value. The fact that Sundell presents a good deal of Alaskan culture and history with her story of two young people who love their animals and each other sets it apart from others and adds value and depth to the events that unfold. Arctic Shadow will immerse readers in its white land of turmoil.

Jack Spade: Dream Detective
Carl A. Chase
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478723646 $12.95

Jack Spade: Dream Detective arrives just in time to provide a different premise to mystery readers, and presents one James Harper: a divorced, unemployed P.I. in his waking hours, but a successful San Francisco detective in his dreams.

This, in itself, wouldn't be so strange; except that it happens time after time and transports him in time and place to 1940s San Francisco, where his cases involve many challenges.

His latest case has he and his partner chasing down a beautiful girl with a secret - who then vanishes - and it's one that challenges all his skills and connections.

Adding the timeslip element to a detective story is intriguing. Having that detective take on some of his most demanding cases through his dreams is something different. And contrasting stories of blackmail, love, and investigation within two very different lives and worlds inhabiting the same body makes for a device that under a different hand might have proved confusing; but here, becomes an exquisite dance of intrigue.

Murder, blackmail, amnesia, and mixed-up lives: all these entwine in Jack Spade: Dream Detective and make for vivid stories where Jack's life and James's world move ever closer together.

It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that this combination will win over many hearts and minds; especially readers who are used to typical genre progressions, and who seek something different both in premise and plot and in approach.

Jack Spade: Dream Detective is that difference, and offers an engrossing adventure mystery with added value.

Alma Mater Vol. 2: The Northeast
Original Clyde Aidoo
Real Print for Real People

This second volume adds to Aidoo's 'Alma Mater' series of poems celebrating colleges and a sense of place, and assumes much of the structure of the first collection - albeit its location is now the Northeast. It's arranged by state, presents colleges within each state, and captures the nuances and feel of such venerable institutions as Yale, Howard University, Loyola University, and Amherst College.

The first thing to know is that this is a poetry collection, not an essay assembly. It's unusual to have college insights provided in poetry format, but as Aidoo demonstrated in his first volume, the genre works well for capturing and transmitting the individual feel of each institution.

Thus, works are as evocative and varied as 'NYU-Poly', which captures the school's engineering focus ("We have engineered a new name/for ourselves with deactivators of the nonactive and Twitterers who/have left this nest to/transform the web.") or, in contrast, 'the United States Military Academy', which assumes the give-and-take marching cadence of a military school ("Attack the Navy, rack the score/(Attack the Navy, rack the score)/Take them on punishment tours...").

Each school's psyche and atmosphere is very different, as these poetic celebrations demonstrate. One might think the over-riding purpose of a higher institution of learning is just that - learning - but within each is a culture and feel that is deftly captured in each poem.

Alma Mater V. 2 is not only a strong complement to the first volume, which focused on the Midwest; it's a succinct representation of each school's underlying purpose and culture and is a collection that should be consulted by any prospective student pouring over college descriptions.

Caught Between the Bettys
Alice Borodkin

Prepublication Manuscript: Estimated pub date: Fall 2015

Caught Between the Bettys tells of courageous women - female rebels who wore pearls in the 1940s, 50s and 60s - and the culture and changes introduced by two very different cultural icons: Betty Crocker and Betty Friedan.

Both women wrote deceptively simple handbooks that changed women's lives and perspectives, and both battled stereotypes. The impact of both on Alice Borodkin

is chronicled in a memoir that is as much about women's cultural changes as it is about Alice Borodkin's life, providing a read key to any who would understand the evolution of women's liberation and women's thinking.

From how and what Borodkin learned from her own mother to the 'evolution of a diva' and changes that led from kitchen revolutions to the streets, the story of how Borodkin became socially and politically aware in an era of homemakers and male power is actually an account of how she 'made her own history'. Such history evolved from a house filled with love, caring, good cooking, and a mother invested in living a life that represented a perfect image.

When this persona cracked, so did Borodkin's world - and everything that was 'good' and 'perfect' revealed an undercurrent of depression: "This house was great for flowers and plants. At times not so great for humans."

Caught Between the Bettys is all about the process of pushing ever outward, which makes it a perfect introduction to feminist thought as it relates to an evolving woman: "I was always looking for more. More opportunity to pursue where it was I would fit in, trial and error, and then learning about how much I could do and how far I could go. Pushing the boundaries, they call it."

As such, it's an evocative, highly recommended pick for any woman who wants insights on the process of self-realization and change.

The Foundation of Summer: New England Stories
Eric D. Lehman
Homebound Publications
9781938846588 $16.95

The Foundation of Summer: New England Stories opens like a fine wine: take a sip of a slow, hot, New England summer with its spicy overtones of self and place.

Open the experience with 'Last Walk on Silver Lane', which tells of a long-time Silver Lane resident whose life has blossomed in one place for decades, and whose perceptions capture that sense of place for readers who are strangers to it: "She loved the long swing porches of the Victorian houses, the way the town's macadam slowly faded into gravel, and the otter-shaped mailbox at the Tompkins house."

As the story evolves, Lisle sees changes come to her small lane and her beloved, familiar places: changes that bring with them noise, contention, new buildings and attacks on quieter ways of being - and she decides to fight back by taking her homespun cafe to a new level: "Donutlicious would do more than just draw crowds, it would suck their money straight out of the village economy, leading to more intrusions, more changes, and the death of their current way of life."

Ways of life in New England and how they change are, indeed, the crux of matters in The Foundation of Summer, and as a first sip becomes a seasoned, smooth appreciation of taste and life, stories zip by with varied themes imbedded in the smells and feel of New England's small towns.

Here is a drug dealer involved in a mystery. There, a mistreated wife, a wanderer, and a tavern that nearly kills them all. From the injuries and lies of Vietnam to wild places that "feel like home", The Foundation of Summer is replete with diverse lives, settings, and worlds replete with autumn paths of discovery.

It's hard to take just a sip when the entire bottle is here for the taking: readers who love short stories with a sense of place and small-town personalities will want to move slowly until the last drop of the slow, lazy habits of a New England Fall replete with color, deep flavors and rich experiences is absorbed.

The Dissector
L. L. Spriggs
Penn Mill Publishing
ISBN (paperback): 9780986121104 price $10.99
ISBN (eBook) : 9780986121111 price $ 2.99

It's not often that a solid mystery read comes from a source other than literary circles; but L.L. Spriggs is a retired teacher of anatomy, and writing The Dissector seemed a perfect extension of her background and experience. And, yes: the book's title reveals some of its graphic and horrifying events.

Readers will find the story opens innocuously enough, at a medical college where first-person narrator Dr. Sarah Whitley is entering into a new faculty-appointed position in the school's Department of Anatomy, putting a 'past life' behind her.

Unfortunately, long-held dreams are often less promising than they could be and, as Dr. Whitley comes to find, they can too easily turn into nightmares. In this case, the job hides an undercurrent of greed and lurid unprofessional activities that lead to the most horrific discoveries she could imagine - and the need for either silence or retribution.

The joy of The Dissector lies not in graphically violent scenes, as one might expect, but in a quiet buildup of psychological tension and a series of revelations that prompts Dr. Whitley at every turn to not just solve a mystery, but to consider the ethical ramifications of her decisions.

Much more than a 'whodunnit', The Dissector posits what happens when discoveries are made that go well beyond social or professional indiscretions to enter the realm of psychopathic behaviors and horrible threats, and in the course of building and examining the back rooms of what seems a venerable social institution, the story line provides a compelling search that is engrossing, unpredictable, and always fueled by Dr. Whitley's self debates and choices.

All this makes for a standout mystery in the genre, backed and fully supported by the anatomical expertise of its author: something most mystery writers can't claim, and a facet which makes the way the story proceeds all the better!

Eighty and Out
Kim Cano
Amazon Digital/CreateSpace
9781508700654 $11.50

Louise and her sister observe the pain of an elderly aunt in a nursing home and make a pact at a young age in the 1950s, to not live past eighty years old. What seems an impulsive childhood agreement takes on a life of its own with a special challenge nearly eighty years later, chronicled in Eighty and Out, a hard-hitting assessment of choices in aging, living, or dying wrapped in a novel format.

The plan could have seemed naive and impossible decades later: instead, it took on a life of its own, and the narrator has decided to keep her end of the bargain while reflecting on the events, ideals, and realities that brought her to this point.

As with any novel, it's a combination of plot, characterization and dialogue that makes a piece memorable and compelling - and Eighty and Out has these elements, in droves. The sisters are close, realistic, and likeable and their pact strengthens their relationship and objectives as the years pass.

Social reflections on aging, choice, and life's ups and downs, from first dates to broken hearts and beyond, make for realistic portraits of life's slings and arrows. The series of small dramas that make up living are deftly presented and the story becomes hard to put down. In short, the reader falls in love with the families and characters of Eighty and Out, making its progression and central theme all the more poignant and moving.

Love, infidelity, betrayal, friendships and families blossoming like flowers - and before you know it, it's time to leave. The 'how' is the point here, and one of the many elements that keeps Eighty and Out an involving saga that reveals worlds of little lies and death.

Slices of Life: A Storyteller's Diary
Ann Nyberg
Homebound Publications
9781938846519 $16.95

Slices of Life: A Storyteller's Diary began at age eight, when the author was given a diary and discovered her true purpose in life: to chronicle events and be a storyteller. Her original impulse hasn't waned and her diaries and world are central to this collection of the big and small life events in her world.

The first prerequisite for appreciating her focus is, of course, an interest in both short stories and autobiographical vignettes. Slices of life aren't any good if one seeks more expansive, detailed works; but they are especially attractive to busy readers who can take each account and digest it in a relative few bites.

And what bites those are: packed with impressions, sounds, tastes, and scenes, Slices of Life is as much about the process of selecting and recording what holds meaning as it is about capturing stories that stand out from the crowd.

Here, a slice of the past in a reflection on the Mason jar, a staple of the Depression years when Victory Gardens returned people to 'the basics'. There, a slice of family life with new siblings, a bridge-playing mother, and family moments and connections that eventually scatters across the country.

"You only pass through once, memories will fade but words are forever": such are the insights of a wordsmith who captures these moments for posterity, shares them with readers who will absorb their underlying lessons, and who provides the whole pizza pie in digestible slices that are vivid and memorable meals, indeed. Autobiography and short story readers who love warm family memories are in for a treat.

Big Sky
C.J. Pagano
1264 Old Alpharetta Road, Alpharetta, GA 30005
9781610055789 $12.95

Big Sky: A Story of Faith and Forgiveness tells the story of author Deborah Miller, who traveled to Montana to research her latest novel and unexpectedly found her first love in loner, Will. When that love ends in tragedy and ongoing challenges part them, her life is forever changed.

Big Sky, however, is not a romance so much as a novel of faith and God: this is evident in passages filled with references to God's intervention in the face of tragedy and protagonist entreaties for guidance and help in the process of facing life. So if it's purely romance that is desired, move on: Big Sky is so much more, despite its relationship focus, and considers a relationship with God as much as those between people.

Now, to call it a 'religious story' also isn't quite correct: Deborah doesn't look to God to guide on her everything; she tends to be proactive as well as faithful, and her course in life brings her a renewed sense of purpose as well as a changed feel for new priorities and purposes in living.

This blend of spiritual and psychological romance makes for a novel that promises more depth than most. It builds a story not just around two people and their interactions, but upon the physical and spiritual facets of their decisions.

Reunions, torn emotions, weddings, and reflective writings all join in a saga exploring self and greater questions; especially recommended for spirituality readers who seek more than a touch of the divine in their stories.

Fritz Scheffel
1264 Old Alpharetta Road, Alpharetta, GA 30005
9780986090608 $14.95

How well a consumer can understand health care choices links inexorably to the quality of such services, as HealthScare: Why Health Care is NOT About Your Health points out - and it provides a historical review that details the history of healthcare con jobs and the failure of government to properly control insurance industry involvements in the health industry.

One might anticipate such a damning account to come from a political or social activist: in fact, Fritz Scheffel is a pharmacist with over four decades of personal experience with the health industry, and here argues that the health system can be vastly modified to become more cost effective and better for all.

One might also think that such an admonition would have long ago reached regulators and industry professionals - but Scheffel deftly documents why this hasn't happened before, and how it can happen now.

What's happening with modern American health are, how did problems begin, and how can they be corrected by both industry changes and consumer attention? These questions lie at the heart of a slim but hard-hitting assessment whose most powerful chapter is 'Ten Tenets for Better Health', which maintains (among other things) that a better sense of personal responsibility is required in order for consumers to understand their role in the health care system.

Vigilance is required not just on the part of government and insurance entities, but healthcare consumers. How can this vigilance be recognized, cultivated, and applied? HealthScare: Why Health Care is NOT About Your Health is all about this part and thus is recommended not for the reader who would just condemn systems, but for those interested in actually taking charge of them.

Melinda Michaels
Reuts Publications
Paperback: 9781942111153 $12.99
Electronic: 9781942111146 $4.99

It happened again: high school senior Hanna has suffered a blackout - this time, in front of her classmates. Her last blackout was when she was eight, and now she's had two in one week.

The school nurse, used to handling minor first-aid issues, is anything but helpful and is even somewhat hostile in her comments ("As far as I can tell, Miss Loch, there's nothing wrong with you," the nurse said condescendingly. "But since you'll probably want a second opinion, I suggest you go see your family doctor."), sending her back to class after her episode (really?? Most modern schools would seem to err on the side of caution in the wake of lawsuits and medical repercussions from unexplained loss of consciousness, so an unsympathetic nurse's condescension and blase attitude feels somewhat unrealistic.), and it's up to Hanna to solve a growing mystery which leads in an unpredictable direction.

Here's where any anticipation of a story of possible epilepsy turns to acceptance of a riveting fantasy, instead, as Hanna comes to realize that her blackouts are actually indicators of a greater danger, and as she discovers not only the prodigy of dark villain, but finds herself aligned with his purposes.

Ignoring her inner voice ("So you're a villain, William?" she said bravely, ignoring the voice in her head that said to get away from him. "Well, just in case you didn't know, villains don't save lives. And they definitely don't stick around to make sure someone's okay."), Hanna embarks on a journey that will change them both and possibly alter the world.

Similar themes have appeared in similar-sounding books. What sets Golden apart from most is its focus on a villain who may not be all that bad, a girl who may not have the magic that circumstances indicate, and the point that evil (and good) may not be as obvious as they would seem.

An appreciation for young adult fantasy and romance with a twist will lend to enjoyment of a story line that is unpredictable and more satisfyingly complex than at first glance, and which brings Hanna's world to life through an ordeal that makes for an absorbing YA adventure read.

Play Your Role: The Surprising Key To Relationship Harmony and Sizzling Sex
Leo Damian
Park Ave Publishers, Inc.
9781495141133 $3.99

Play Your Role: The Surprising Key To Relationship Harmony and Sizzling Sex goes where many other books on sex and relationship have attempted - but plays its role better than most, placing it at the top of the dance card of relationship 'how-to' guides.

There are several reasons why it's a standout.

For one thing, it's all about cooperation, not just landing the guy or gal. This focus allows for self-examination of what role the reader plays in expectations of ideals and what constitutes a 'match'. As readers learn about their unexamined assumptions and how those affect cooperative interplays in a relationship, so they learn how to tweak these attitudes for better results.

Secondly, it focuses on honor: personal honor, and honoring others. It creates a system for understanding this concept and applying it across the board; so a side benefit from Play Your Role would be having multiple keys that work not just in relationships, but for the rest of life.

Finally, Play Your Role is a cooperative experience. This translates to an interplay between the book's concepts, its exercises, and the willingness of the reader to embark on a journey of self-exploration before applying concepts to relationships. Any who expect information to be 'fed and absorbed' should look elsewhere: the book is intended for an audience willing to learn, work, consider, and change.

With these objectives in mind, all the tools and methods for focusing on one's soul are provided; from entering into a 'contract' in a relationship that defines boundaries and helps clarify paths to activities that can be sexually adventurous (and readers may have to look up some terms on that list!).

For better sex and understanding, the concepts and self-examining approach of Play Your Role provide winning approaches.

Discovering April
Sheena Hutchinson
SL Hutchinson Publishing
9781508642220 $12.99 pbk. / $3.00 ebook

April isn't even out of college yet, but she seems to have achieved her life's dreams: a big house, a handsome boyfriend, and more. If it all seems too perfect - it is, and as her relationship with her boyfriend begins to fail, so her attraction to his opposite, the boy next door, increases.

This is contemporary romance with a twist: it's complicated ... more complicated than a boy-meets-girl or even an affair, though it begins with a bang (the bang of a slammed car door and rejection) and a snicker (the snicker of the boy next door, who is out working on his car when everything comes down.)

One big pleasure in this romance is the realistic schoolgirl chatty style that marks an exceptional attention to first-person psyche. It's not hard to believe the protagonist is a spoiled, flighty college girl; not with dialogue like this: "I check my phone, just in case. Nope, no apology. I don't know what I was expecting. I love the kid to death, but would it kill him to admit he's wrong? I clearly saw him flirt with that girl with the obviously enhanced chest right in front of my face!"

Because opposites tend to attract, even in times of adversity, it's also not difficult to imagine what could be or what is to come, even though April is hard at work making some changes to her life ("Trust me, Ro had said repeatedly, she better not make me regret this! This is not something new April, or childhood April would have done. Actually, childhood April would have probably been doing flips across the scaffolding below us.").

The 'voice' and experience of April is compelling, offering romance readers who enjoy college student growth stories the story of a fighter who battles for her life, her loves, and even, unexpectedly, her self-growth - and that's the real crux of Discovering April's strength.

John R. Spencer
DeerVale Publishing
2 Glenwood Ct., Blue Grass, IA 52726
Print: 9780986372742 $15.99
Ebook: 9780986372759 $8.99

ReGeneration is Book Three of the Solarium-3 trilogy, so be advised: familiarity with the prior books will lend a continuity and a satisfyingly well-rounded feel to this latest addition to the sci-fi series.

Solarium-3, the first book, documented a basic struggle to survive inside the only remaining habitat for humanity, Solarium-3. Haeven, Book Two, documents what happens when they are forced outside their protective haven to see what has become of the planet. ReGeneration continues the logical progression of events, where the survivors begin to explore their strange new world and their new place in it, and is a 'must' for any who have followed the prior adventures.

In some ways, ReGeneration is both unexpected and predictable - and in the scheme of things, that's not such a bad thing. Its concepts juxtapose nicely with prior events, its images of this changed world are vividly portrayed ("Watching these strange images of light and color flood the sky, Bridget realized it was not normal lightning. The flashes were more brilliant than lightning, more brilliant than the waning sun that had begun its reluctant journey toward the western horizon, chased by these radiant arms of light that swallowed the sun's beams."), and its ongoing mysteries fuel a combination of adventure exploration and sci-fi, a survivalist tale that's firmly rooted in solid character development and consistent action.

But the hallmark of an exceptional read doesn't necessarily lie in logic and predictability: it lies in an ability to captivate readers with a 'you are there' feel; to make one care about the characters' experiences, and to inject elements of surprise into the story line that keep it fresh and vivid - and here, too, ReGeneration achieves its goals.

The result is every bit as engrossing as its predecessors - and that's what a good trilogy should offer: continuity along with more than a small dash of mystery and surprise. The Solarium survivors have much to learn to get things right. That process makes for a fine exploration not just of changed environment, but changed peoples.

Baby Poop
Linda F. Palmer, DC
Sunny Lane Press
9780975317020 $17.99

Baby Poop: What Your Pediatrician May Not Tell You ... about Colic, Reflux, Constipation, Green Stools, Food Allergies, and Your Child's Immune Health is recommended reading (and a recommended bookshelf reference) for any parent (especially new parents) who may find that baby poop actually is a better indicator of a baby's underlying health than any other diagnostic method.

What's in a baby's diaper can help parents differentiate between different kinds of illnesses and is just as important as paying attention to what goes into a baby's mouth; so before you toss that diaper without a second glance, consult Baby Poop - and then take a closer look.

Chapters discuss the basics of baby poop, from why early imbalances in a baby's flora can lead to serious intolerances and diseases later on to how parents can not only pay attention to warning signs, but interpret them for better medical assistance.

From serious diarrheal illnesses and new bacterial threats to common over-reactions to various forms of baby poop and how to differentiate the serious from the everyday, this book provides the basics and specifics that take into account all the factors affecting a baby's stool.

Medical discussions include assessments of normal infant health challenges and their benefits as well as their detriments, and provide quotes and research from other physicians and medical sources.

Add charts ("Are You Seeing Green?"), discussions of formula choices and dietary options and effects, and genetic inheritance considerations and you have a well-rounded discussion that all parents should be familiar with: one that links baby poop to all kinds of conditions, options, and health impacts both positive and negative.

Humanity 2.0: The Transcension
Charol Messenger
Messenger Publishing
9781463797638 $TBA


New age, spirituality, and science too seldom cross paths - or, if they do, they tend to head in opposite directions entirely, with conclusions that don't connect. For something different - and an approach that requires an open mind of scientist readers and new age thinkers alike - take a look at Humanity 2.0: The Transcension.

Here is a wide-ranging discussion that includes: DNA, the cosmos, angels, messengers, evolution, psychology, energy sources in the universe, and visionary thinking. And, by the way: the latter is a key to appreciating just how vast and all-embracing is the universe of Humanity 2.0.

Readers can anticipate a whirlwind of ideas, and should be prepared to give this book a lot of time; not just for reading, but for absorbing many new, enlightening concepts.

From how to recognize and use options provided by the universe to how to acknowledge the presence, effects and purposes of synchronicity in one's life, why the human species as a whole is transcending (and into what), and how personal growth insights and opportunity are linked into this process, Messenger uses posts from her meditations and angel encounters to get her point across.

If this all seems ethereal and new age - it is. If it seems to hold a high level of transcendent thinking in and of itself - well, don't expect easy reading, here. Some things are handed to readers on a plate and others require further contemplation (which is encouraged, here). An openness to channeled spiritual messages is a prerequisite to appreciating these insights.

Humanity 2.0: The Transcension is both a journal of discovery and a blueprint for reader change. It offers the unusual opportunity to draw together disparate threads of science, self-inspection and spiritual understanding and it covers both Earth change transitions now taking place and the process of individual and species transformation.

Humans have many innate, unused abilities, and there are many methods of drawing them out. Humanity 2.0: The Transcension is one such resource: I found it a lively and thought-provoking read, and recommend it for any new age reader open to a multitude of spiritual insights.

A Shot of Malaria
Charles Souby
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100
West Conshohcken, PA 19428-2713
9781495801471 $20.95

A Shot of Malaria presents a drug addict in the form of Daniel, who is hooked on heroin and alcohol and lives on the streets of San Francisco in the nineties. That's just the outline of the story - and so far there's little to indicate that this book is anything exceptional, or will be anything but grueling read of degradation and survival.

But to call the novel a junkie's story alone would be to limit its depth and perspective, for Daniel experiences love, musical interludes, and life; and his first-person perspective embraces so much more than where to locate the next fix (though, obviously, this is a major focus).

San Francisco's neighborhoods come alive: it's obvious the author well knows his city and the types of people who live there, and ably captures this feel through Daniel's eyes: "The gist of the song was how depressing and meaningless life was, walking among the hookers and winos of the Mission District at midnight." (He's talking about inner Mission, most likely, and the culture of the adjacent SOMA district: quite a different vibe from the Latin section.)

As with any gritty coming-of-age saga intended for mature teen to adult readers, there's a healthy dose of sex, various encounters with women, senses of loss, and contemplating suicide (via jumping off Golden Gate Bridge). Throughout these stories lies a peppering of the angst underlying Daniel's decisions: "Tragically, in the real world of trying to make it in life, these dreams were crippling me."

Can Daniel find the kinds of care and connections between people that fuel his search and his feed his angst when they fail? There are no predictable paths in A Shot of Malaria; no easy answers, and in the end, no obvious conclusions.

The thread that does run through this isn't linear, either: it's the ups and downs of a roller coaster ride through adolescence that ultimately bring both character and reader closer to the goals of connection and some form of resolution. And a shot of dark humor runs through it.

Happy endings don't apply here. What does apply is a gripping search for self and love, the choices made in that process, and what happens when an addict becomes fed up with his life and chooses a different destiny. Haunting as all get-out, it's a read for any who want to journey through the world and eyes of a heroin addict to see that, sometimes, there is the possibility of another life.

Weird Tales
Lyn Murray
Golden Panda Publishing
9781508841128 $21.99

Also available in a Kindle edition, Weird Tales revitalizes a genre which typically falls somewhere between horror and science fiction: the strange and eerie intersection between faith, fantasy, and disbelief, designed to chill with creepy twists and the unexpected.

Weird stories were first captured in the 1923 magazine of the same title as Murray's book, and made household names of such new writers as Ray Bradbury, Lovecraft and Merritt - names largely regulated to the files of bygone years' literary greats - so it's refreshing to see a compilation of stories in this vein that remind readers of exactly what made this niche genre so compelling and provide newcomers with stories that are more than a cut above 'ordinary and expected'.

In typical 'weird' format, these stories are steeped in the supernatural - but are something more. In typical fantasy format, they include many elements of other worlds and impossible encounters. In typical horror format, there's often a protagonist who unwittingly crosses the line between his staid universe and one where things are more than a little different. And in classic literary style, Murray takes all these disparate elements and weaves them together in a series of hair-raising adventures which bring to mind Hitchcock's classic 'Stories Not for the Nervous' collections.

Compellingly eerie images sprinkled throughout highlight the feel of these odd scenarios, bright to life in written word: "As Joe listened, he heard nothing, but one of two things for sure. Either it had gone away - OR - it had stopped and was listening, too. Joe liked the first option better, but the second was more likely."

Surprisingly little is written in the classic 'weird' vein nowadays. This collection is not just a throwback; it's a standout and a testimony to the 1920s approach that still - under the right hand, such as Murray's - can stand just as strongly to new generations, today, offering a subtler but equally powerful psychological brand of horror to those who would absorb more than bloodletting and staccato surface action.

Passing on Curves While Death Rides Shotgun
Craig McLaughlin
Herne Publishing
1300 Ordway Street, Berkeley, CA 94702-1124
9781940462035 $16.95

Author Craig McLaughlin was born a hemophiliac. He's been 'riding shotgun with death' since birth, facing the risk of bleeding to death from common injuries. But rather than lead a life of caution, McLaughlin's purpose is a life well lived, and not necessarily one well protected. Passing on Curves While Death Rides Shotgun is a memoir replete in risk-taking adventures and living well.

Health threats are a fact of life as he defies the odds to live to adolescence, contracts HIV from contaminated blood, and struggles to care for a wife with breast cancer and a child facing two parents with fatal illnesses.

While issues of death, vulnerability and survival permeate McLaughlin's memoir, so does life - being connected and involved despite health challenges, and making decisions to live life fully. To understand his ride with death, he offers this telling reflection on the questions in his child's mind and his desire for a proper death: "...these were exactly the questions a boy might ask if he was ashamed and needed to justify being here. You see, I didn't feel I deserved to stay in the life raft, not unless there was room for everyone else. The best possible resolution to my situation, it seemed, would be to die a noble death. I didn't think about suicide - that would have seemed cowardly and pointless - but I did think about making the ultimate sacrifice. It would offer redemption, wash away my shame, validate my existence. These scenarios were my own test pattern, my own calibration."

This is a story about navigating life when the unexpected becomes normal. One doesn't expect caring for exotic animals to enter into this picture - but, it does. One doesn't anticipate that a memoir so replete with medical challenge could also be steeped in hope - but, it is.

In an odd way you could say that Passing on Curves While Death Rides Shotgun is about a life well-lived, as much as it is about survival: "I, too, have character. I say that humbly. It's not something I'm proud of. It is just something that comes with growing up with a chronic health condition and not wanting to be a burden. I have come to see character as a weakness as well as a strength."

Readers interested in memoirs about personal growth, determination, family life in the face of devastating health challenges will find the book inspiring. Told through vivid personal essays about living life and facing death, Passing on Curves will be relished for its ultimate strength as a series of stories about what makes humans endure, thrive, and survive.

The Outer Circle
D.R. Bell
Amazon Digital Services

As the last book in 'The Counterpoint' trilogy, The Outer Circle will best be enjoyed by prior readers who will find the initial premise, characters and setting all play out to a gripping conclusion, here. Such an audience will find The Outer Circle draws together all the events of the prior stand-alone novels, is set in the near future of 2024, two years after the second book The Great Game concluded. The story opens with the scenario of the 'big three' (the U.S., Russia and China) locked in a deadly game of international struggle as the U.S. Presidential elections loom.

But those who come upon The Outer Circle and presume its timeframe translates to a dystopian science fiction piece might be surprised to learn that it's actually more of a political thriller, taking today's circumstances and moving them outward to their logical conclusions.

In March of 2024, Jeff and Jennifer live in a world of death threats, talking refrigerators which can place orders for groceries, countries that struggle for independence and against dependence, and elusive financial issues that even big nations and politicians can't solve.

Even promotion and marketing is frightening familiar: again, a logical extrapolation of current political posturing and events: "We craft your speech short and sweet. Not as short as the Gettysburg Address, but keep it under a thousand words and fifteen minutes, don't get bogged down in details, look solemn and presidential." "And which themes do we hit?" "The same we've been hitting all along: the greatness of America, why our enemies hate us, dealing with them from the position of strength, restoring our natural right to lead. Positive, memorable soundbytes, ideal for the internet. You, looking strong, humble, servant of the people with understated sex appeal. We don't need a lot of people; just have FreedomShield bring in enough of their 'volunteers' to fill the video frame."

Bell's ability to take the ordinary facets of modern times and translate them into one future possibility is part of what lends The Outer Circle such realism and strength. The other lies in its political savvy, which deftly outlines high-level national associations, rationales for actions, and individual choices in the matter; all based on historical precedent: "Comrade Secretary, I consider the geopolitical situation to be in our favor now. We always knew that the American strategist Brzezinski was right: the key to the world supremacy lies in ruling the Eurasian continent. Since the 1990s, we fought the "cold war" against the Americans for control of Eurasia. We won. We secured our continental borders. We welcomed the Russians when the Americans ignored them. We then saved the Russians when the Americans tried to choke them with economic warfare ten years ago."

As FreedomShield's purposes become clear and Jeff confronts assassins, the manipulations of electoral processes come to light as a grand scheme with its roots in decades of planning.

Without giving away the story line, suffice it to say that as a political thriller steeped in action and insight, The Outer Circle's story is difficult to put down. Just when the reader believes they have the entire picture, something else enters to give everything a twist and a new perspective.

The Outer Circle still works as a stand-alone, but because the characters and story are well flushed out and set up in the prior books, those who enjoy its action will want to pick up the others; particularly since it is the concluding volume and ties the story together in satisfyingly unexpected ways.

Political thriller readers will find its premises realistic and the characters believable as they roll through an involving story packed with underlying messages on privacy, surveillance, interconnected worlds and uncertain political and economic world alliances.

Teachings on Being: The Holy Book of Religious Leaders, Followers, and Non-Believers
Codrin Stefan Tapu
Lulu Press
9781304051943 $.99

"The New Faith is not yet another faith. It is a new way of living the old faiths." This admonition opens Teachings on Being and presents the very basic premise of a book designed to bring together faiths; not alienate based on tenants or differences.

It maintains, simply, that all faiths are important and valid, and its intention is to provide the tools to bring these faiths together. In order to appreciate the approach of Teachings on Being, it's first essential that the reader accept admonitions that impart basic ideas on how to live life and experience faith.

These easily-digestible sentences are arranged under subject headings but proffer advice and ideas intended to guide questioning readers on matters of heart and soul: "To want to make the others be like you, because you think that's the right thing to do, that's not a duty, it's not a proof of love, it's showing off your vanity, and a it's sign of unhappiness."

From ideals of 'heroes' and 'friendship and love' to 'The Guide to Life', these are pointed insights designed to provide food for thought on not just the process of daily living and faith, but the personal choices inherent in behaviors and belief patterns: "Behave as if the fate of the whole world depended on your behavior."

Readers of any faith interested in adopting a perspective of interconnected spiritual support systems will find Teachings on Being an encouraging guide pointing the way to a new perspective embracing not just all faiths, but even those without.

The Northern Star: The End
Mike Gullickson
Lightside/Darkside Entertainment
0692410309 Ebook: $3.99/Paperback: $9.99




The Northern Star: The End is Volume Three in the trilogy and wraps up events begun in the first book, which presented a human future stymied by its own drive to stay connected and buffeted by forces of good and evil which began to assume too-similar facades. The action started (and now ends) with the journey of bionic soldier John Raimey, who is a Hulk-like giant of a man enhanced for warfare but cursed as a harbinger of death to everything he touches.

In this final book, his creator rules with an iron fist and The Northern Star is everywhere, ruthless and controlling. A war brews in the Middle East and John faces his final mission - which he hopes will bring him the peace of death and one last chance to contribute something good to a world in which his presence has only meant evil.

But in between good and evil there's a lot of murky gray events - and between John's desires and his controller's efforts, there's all of humanity to deal with and political and social objectives that can change at a moment's notice.

Like its predecessors, The Northern Star: The End is military-based in its action, futuristic in its visions of society and evil controlling forces, and humanistic in its portrayal of a cyber-superman soldier who nonetheless harbors some remnants of humanity even though he's a Tank Major killing machine.

Descriptions of futuristic technology permeate this story and keep it from being a military focus alone ("We know the Northern Star is in Washington, D.C.," Cynthia replied. "But we don't know exactly where. That's why we need Justin. I need you to escort him to the Data Sump outside the city." "What's a Data Sump?" Raimey asked. "It's a satellite tower that transmits all data in the region to the ring in space," Justin replied.).

Under a different hand, it would have been all too easy to portray the Tank Major is an inhumane killing machine: the fact that some humanity is left in John adds personal observation and meaning to even military confrontations: "The forest ended, and Raimey broke free into an abandoned Costco parking lot. The barrage had stopped. Raimey turned just as Kove emerged from the inferno. There was nowhere to run. They quietly regarded one another. Raimey almost thought to say something, but what would it matter? What would it do? They were soldiers on the opposite sides of war. Kove gave a curt nod, as if acknowledging the moment, and then the grenade launcher cycled up and pelted John, caking his legs and detonating him down to the ground. Raimey turtled, covering his face. This is it, Raimey thought. It's over."

Futuristic technology, solid action, compelling characterization, military confrontation and social issues - it's all here, neatly wrapped up in a concluding volume that supports the contentions and characters of its predecessors while creating a solid, compelling ending to an all-too-possible world. Fans of military sci-fi, in particular, are in for a special treat with the three books in The Northern Star series.

Insanity by Increments
Alaric Cabiling
Alaric Cabiling Ltd.
9781312920507 $3.99

Modern literary short fiction is not unusual: many attempt it; relatively few do it well - especially in the style of the gothic horror approach so aptly explored by Poe, Hawthorne, and other greats. That's why it's such a pleasure to read Insanity by Increments: it takes some of the methods and madness of these greats and moves a step further, presenting nine short stories of contemplation and quiet horror.

Take 'Once Found, Once More Forsaken', for example (the first story in the collection). The protagonist has slept through a storm and is expecting the arrival of his brother, a wealthy wanderer, that morning; but his chance encounter with an old schoolgirl introduces a sense of danger ("The air had an unusual odor, one that seemed to have followed the storm, with the rising waters replenishing the stagnant pools of the bog."), and what transpires next is anything but a congenial family visit.

Surreal moments, gently simmering mysteries, a woodland replete with death and growing horror - all this is gently woven into a story that opens with a receding storm and evolves into exquisitely challenging horror.

'Omens of Winter' is another heart-pull: it opens with a family dilemma and, once more, time is taken to paint scenes properly, right down to the creak of a door as a last generation stands strong against what is to come: "The ancient door still made a ratcheting sound at a point in its arc, and I was careful to not let it alarm them, sliding from behind it as I escaped into the hallway and up the stairs towards my room." When the family structure changes, the kids face many new choices - and dangers.

All are well-done, replete with psychological tension throughout. If it's nonstop staccato action that is desired, look elsewhere. If it's the slow simmer of a buildup that injects readers into the sights, sounds, and circumstances of all kinds of horror and insanity, choose Insanity by Increments: it's a deliciously complex treasure trove especially recommended for fans of literary Gothic fiction who want modern scenarios and representations in the context of a genre that receives (regrettably) little attention these days.

Butterflies: The Strange Metamorphosis of Fact and Fiction in Today's World
Daniel M. Harrison
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00VKLHA9W $4.99

There's no denying the challenge inherent in picking up such a book as Butterflies: it's not just a call to action: it's a hard-hitting assessment of why society has become so complacent and content to accept 'facts' without thinking and investigating, and it's a book that any thinking American should consider.

For one thing, Butterflies comes from a leading journalist whose focus is on how such a mindset of complacency develops and is nurtured by forces that would stand to benefit from sheep-like obedience and a lack of analytical abilities and critical thinking.

For another, Butterflies documents as much as it presents arguments, supporting its rationales while tackling such wide-ranging issues as sexuality, spirituality, and how an increasingly connected world promises much but often leads its participants away from the direction of true engagement.

What do Bitcoin, individual choice, institutional edicts, fictional approaches, and scientific advancement have to do with personal transformation and an increasingly interconnected world replete with both opportunity and oppression?

Daniel M. Harrison interviewed numerous professionals in the scientific, medical and general academic and commercial fields and harvested their thoughts for Butterflies, blending statistical surveys and studies with discussions of mainstream thinking and its dangers.

Don't expect a dull read, either. Harrison packs his account with metaphors, images, and bright discussions of the 'millennial mindset' that make for vivid reading. Perhaps it's his choice of language, which sets aside the usual plodding nature of inquiry in favor of a lively, engaging approach packed with supercharged examples: "...the message that Satoshi was sending that day to the whole market along with his source code for bitcoin's currency was clear as the bright spring morning that lit up London's four century old spiral towers as their steeples reflected and then disappeared in the yellow-white sunlit glare of the River Thames. That message went something like this: If there's a multi-trillion dollar bailout for the plutocracy going on right now, then here is a multi-trillion dollar bailout for the people."

Intellectual? You bet. Packed with hard science and difficult concepts? Absolutely. Tempered by human experience, fictional depictions, and personal accounts? That's one of its points. If journalism's true purpose is to expose fraud, pinpoint evolutionary processes, and challenge readers to think about the bigger picture, then Butterflies is the epitome of this process, and recommended for any who would don wings.

If it's a grounded, less passionate analysis that is desired, move on. Butterflies is for any who would take these expansive worldviews and run with them - even fly. That's its strength - and thus its appeal - to any who would break free from society's comfort-oriented cocoon and soar.

My Husband Our Father: A Family's Walk Through the Storm of Grief in Search of a Rainbow
Michelle Caravelli
Balboa Press
9781452517780 $15.99 Print $3.99 ebook

Autobiographies - especially family memoirs - hold the pitfall of often being too revealing; in effect telling strangers (i.e. the reading public) family secrets. Sometimes they tell too much. Sometimes they don't say enough. My Husband Our Father holds the unusual ability to walk the fine line between too much information and not enough; and perhaps that's because it's a family collaboration - not just one member's thoughts - and that's a rare asset, indeed.

It's about the loss of a husband and father from liver cancer; but most of all it documents the separate journeys through grief experienced by young widow Michelle and each of her four children in a process that unites the family and allows each member to survive, without patriarch Gus.

The writing of My Husband Our Father involved each family member producing an unedited, candid memoir of experience before sharing with the family - and the result is a gripping chronicle of how life goes on and how recoveries happen at different levels.

From online dating and geographical distances to stronger and finding hope in the face of tragedy: all these processes are documented in a survey that traces the agony of a cancer diagnosis, survival, and (most of all) the singular perceptions of different family members.

The result is a poignant and moving memoir, highly recommended for any who have struggled with grief during challenging processes and times, which documents the separate journals and experiences of a family connected by the bonds of love, pain, and survival.

Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards
Claire Dorotik-Nana M.A.
9781508634294 $9.99 pbk. / $5.99 Kindle

Leverage: the Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards is all about using setbacks to create winning situations, and while this might not seem like a unique approach, it is more direct than others in its specifics on the process involved and how to hone it.

There's no shortage of adversity and sources of angst, and plenty of books discuss how to overcome and move beyond adversity. The point seems to be, in most of these treatments, that adversity is something to be avoided or confronted. Leverage is somewhat different: it outlines the inherent advantages in adversarial situations, showing how to take struggle and adversity and truly learn from it, and even welcoming these events as opportunities for positive change.

Trauma can lead to profound challenges and, conversely, profound growth opportunities: that's the message in a book that links distress with denial, and denial with suppressed feelings about loss of control and vulnerability and its lasting impact: "For people who avoid vulnerability, the real problem is trust."

What do setbacks take away - and, more importantly, what do they give? In such a scenario a setback is not just an obstacle to be overcome; it's a new challenge to inspire growth and learning - and Leverage is the place to turn for a blend of psychological insights, case histories, and tools and techniques for adjusting attitudes and making a new life from the ashes of the old.

What can be learned from this? That "Setbacks can ignite the desire for connection - to reach out, help others, and give back - all of which helps us heal." As for the 'how to use it' part - that's the point of Leverage, highly recommended for self-help and psychology readers interested in the processes of change.

The Silver Ships
S.H. Jucha
S.H. Jucha, Publisher
Ebook: 9780990594017 $2.99
Softcover: 9780990594024 $13.99

Alex is both a space explorer and a space tug captain, harvesting ice asteroids for water-starved human outposts - but his prime motivation is curiosity and a drive to uncover new technology from space. So when he encounters a derelict alien ship, his first impulse is to board it to see what can be harvested for profit and new discoveries - but when he encounters surviving aliens, this isn't the least of his worries.

Although their technology is hundreds of years ahead of the dying Earth colonies, they've succumbed to a strange silver alien ship: and if they were unable to combat it despite their advanced equipment, how will humans stand a chance when the ship comes for them?

The Silver Ships is the first of a projected four-part series, so its follow-ups depend on the reception of this series opener - which, given its intriguing concepts, should be positive. There are solid protagonists and a loner in the form of leader Alex, alien encounters are believable and involving, there's a mystery involving advanced technology and a silver ship's powers, and added attention is given to political involvements and social settings. Add a dash of romance and a lot of intrigue and you have an engrossing saga.

There are several prerequisites for appreciating Jucha's approach, here. The first is an affinity for the adventure-packed format that defines the sub-genre of 'space opera', which eschews political intricacy in favor of involving descriptions and action less bogged down in minute futuristic detail and more filled with compelling drama (and, that's a hallmark of the genre as well as an appealing attribute of this book). The second is an ability to appreciate a pretty straightforward world that well supports its characters and action. The third is an ability to appreciate a rollicking good adventure story.

While, personally, I could have hoped for more character description and depth, the purpose of The Silver Ships isn't to shock and awe with intricacy: it's to provide its audience with an entertaining read that documents a close encounter of another kind. Its pairing of action and adventure with believable protagonists and settings contribute to a sci-fi read that is, plain and simple, a good, solid, entertaining read.

Crystal Brave: Earthquake at the Taum Sauk
BK Bradshaw
Goldminds Publishing, LLC.
1050 Glenbrook Way, Suite 480, Hendersonville, TN 37075
ISBN (print): 9781942905004 $14.99
ISBN (eBook): 9781942905011 $6.99

Crystal is about to turn thirteen and her archaeologist parents have left for a day's journey studying petroglyphs at Taum Sauk Mountain. But timing is everything: that's the day the New Madrid fault shifts and a major earthquake keeps them from returning. The devastation means no communications, but Crystal has access to a horse and sets out on a trek to the mountain, following the path of family tradition in undertaking brave explorations with fierce self-determination.

Pre-teens, teens, and adult audiences alike will readily come to recognize that Crystal's adventures are compelling and anything but predetermined.

Her interactions with her parents prior to the event are remarkably realistic, as she resents their outside interests and an expedition that seems to precede her birthday in importance: "You care more about those dumb petroglyphs than you do me! I'm only turning into a teenager once, and you're going to miss it because of your stupid job." Crystal plopped down on the couch, her arms crossed and angry tears welling up in her eyes."

It's lucky that Crystal has experience trail riding and camping in the wilderness. It's lucky that the adult family friend that comes upon her and could stop her, decides to let her go based on Crystal's competence and the devastation from the quake, which limits other options. And it's refreshing to see self-determined courage in a young protagonist who is not being foolhardy, but logical in her quest.

Middle-grade preteens, teens and many an adult will find

Crystal Brave: Earthquake at the Taum Sauk an absorbing adventure story with a satisfying difference: no world issues or cussing mar the saga. It's an old-fashioned wilderness adventure which, as Crystal Brave demonstrates, doesn't need social issues or urban angst to draw in readers of all ages and keep their attention.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Every River On Earth
Neil Carpathios
Ohio University Press
215 Columbus Road, Suite 101, Athens, OH 45701
9780821421291, $26.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Neil Carpathios (an award-winning poet and author of three full-length poetry collections, as well as several chapbooks, and who teaches at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, where he also serves as coordinator of creative writing), "Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio" includes some of the best regional poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from forty contemporary writers, both established and up-and-coming. The wide range of material from authors such as David Baker, Don Bogen, Michelle Burke, Richard Hague, Donald Ray Pollock, and others, offers the reader a window into daily life in the region. The people, the landscape, the struggles, and the deepest undercurrents of what it means to be from and of a place are revealed in these original, deeply moving, and sometimes shocking pieces.

"Every River On Earth" is divided into four sections: Family & Folks; The Land; The Grind; and Home & Away, each of which explores a different aspect of the place that these authors call home. The sections work together beautifully to capture what it means to live, to love, and to die in this particular slice of Appalachia. The writing is accessible and often emotionally raw; Every River on Earth invites all types of readers and conveys a profound appreciation of the region's character. The authors also offer personal statements about their writing, allowing the reader an intimate insight into their processes, aesthetics, and inspirations. What is it to be an Appalachian? What is it to be an Appalachian in Ohio? "Every River On Earth" vividly paints that picture.

Critique: An impressive work both in breath and in scope with informed and informative essays and articles by an equally impressive series of contributors, "Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio" could well serve as a template for similar regionally oriented anthologies for other sections of our broadly diversified country. Available in a hardcover edition (9780821421284, $59.95), "Every River on Earth" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Every River on Earth" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.49).

21st Century Ellis
B. A. Friedman, editor
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612518077, $21.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: For years, the Marine Corps has touted the prescience of Lt. Col. "Pete" Ellis, USMC, who predicted in 1921 that the United States would fight Japan and how the Pacific Theater would be won. Now the works of the "amphibious prophet" are collected together for the first time in "21st Century Ellis: Operational Art and Strategic Prophecy for the Modern Era". Included are Ellis' essays on naval and amphibious operations that the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps would use to win the war against Imperial Japan, as well as his articles about counterinsurgency and conventional war based on his experiences in the Philippines and in Europe during World War I. As the United States focuses on the Pacific once again, Friedman presents Ellis' ideas as a case study to inform current policymakers about the dynamics of strategy and warfare across the vast reaches of the Pacific. This collection reveals Ellis to be a thinker who was ahead of his time in identifying concepts the U.S. military struggles with even today.

Critique: A long overdue recognition of the outstanding contributions of Lt. Col. Ellis to America's national defense in the opening decades of the 20th century, "21st Century Ellis: Operational Art and Strategic Prophecy for the Modern Era" is an especially informed and informative military biography. Deftly edited by B. A. Friedman (a field artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, who is currently pursuing a master of arts in national security and strategic studies through the Naval War College), "21st Century Ellis" is deftly organized into five chapters: Ellis and Counterinsurgency; Ellis and Combined Warfare; Ellis and the Modern marine Corps; Ellis and the Pacific; Legacy and Parallels: The Modern Pacific. Enhanced with the inclusion of a Bibliography, "21st Century Ellis" is very highly recommended for community and academic 20th Century American Military History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "21st Century Ellis" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

The Real Paul: Recovering His Radical Challenge
Bernard Brandon Scott
Polebridge Press
900 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97301-3922
Westar Institute
9781598151541, $27.00, 272pp,

Synopsis: A slow rumbling, that has been building up among New Testament scholars for the past twenty years, is only now beginning to make its effects felt on a more general public. A new Paul the Apostle is beginning to emerge, one who differs from the Paul of Augustine and Luther, who is no friend to the traditional orthodoxy that has co-opted him for almost two thousand years. To help us see Paul in this new way, Scott arrives at three conclusions argued step-by-step throughout the book: Paul was called; His concern was with the nations; Paul addresses particular situations, not a universal human condition. The new Paul threatened Roman authorities with anti-imperial rhetoric, much of which is still operative today. Thus, the new Paul may prove an even more radical challenge to church and society than did the historical Jesus.

Critique: "The Real Paul: Recovering His Radical Challenge" by Bernard Brandon Scott (Darbeth Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an impressively informed and informative work of biblical scholarship that will prove to be as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is seminal and iconoclastic. An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "The Real Paul: Recovering His Radical Challenge" is highly recommended for seminary and academic library New Testament Studies reference collections in general, and Paulinian Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted that for personal reading lists, "The Real Paul: Recovering His Radical Challenge" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

When Owing a Shilling Costs a Dollar
Carver Clark Gayton
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Bohlsen Group
9781499017816, $15.99, 226pp,

Synopsis: Lewis G. Clarke, born into slavery, was separated from his Scottish father and quadroon mother at the age of six in Madison County, Kentucky. The atrocities he suffered and witnessed under his new masters were abominable and way beyond what most slaves endured during slavery. After escaping from bondage, Clarke then traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and became a primary spokesman for the abolitionist movement throughout the Northeast and Canada during the 1840s and 1850s. While in Cambridge, he lived in the home of Aaron and Mary Safford where he met many times with Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary's stepsister, as well as many other luminaries of the abolitionist movement. The rebellious quadroon slave George Harris of Mrs. Stowe's book Uncle Tom's Cabin was identified by her as based significantly upon the life of Clarke. When the Civil War ended, Clarke continued to be in demand as a speaker, nationally, on behalf of former slaves. Clarke's notoriety and influence was such that when he died in Lexington, Kentucky, that his passing was noted in newspapers throughout the world with full-page eulogies. If there was a common thread in Lewis's life, it related to striving to have the kind of family life that he never experienced as a child; however, during his lifetime, the vicissitudes of race and color lines in America made his vision not only challenging but ephemeral.

Critique: "When Owing a Shilling Costs a Dollar: The Saga of Lewis G. Clarke, Born a "White" Slave" is an inherently fascinating read. Exceptionally well written and presented, this unusual biography is also available in a hardcover edition (9781499017809, $22.99) and is very highly recommended addition to community and academic library American History and American Biography reference collections. The perfect anodyne for those who attempt to bestow a nostalgic aurea over the antebellum south with respect to the institution of slavery, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Owing a Shilling Costs a Dollar" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Requirements Engineering Fundamentals
Klaus Pohl & Chris Rupp
Rocky Nook
802 East Cota Street, 3rd Floor, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
9781937538774, $39.95, 184pp,

Synopsis: Requirements engineering tasks have become increasingly complex. In order to ensure a high level of knowledge and competency among requirements engineers, the International Requirements Engineering Board (IREB) developed a standardized qualification called the Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering (CPRE). The certification defines the practical skills of a requirements engineer on various training levels. "Requirements Engineering Fundamentals" is designed for self-study and covers the curriculum for the Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering Foundation Level exam as defined by the IREB. The second edition has been thoroughly revised and is aligned with the curriculum Version 2.2 of the IREB. In addition, some minor corrections to the 1st edition have been included.

Critique: Comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Requirements Engineering Fundamentals: A Study Guide for the Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering Exam - Foundation Level - IREB compliant" is an indispensable and strongly recommended instruction manual that is a 'must' for anyone studying to become a certified engineer.

The Secret Space Age
Olav Phillips
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781939149428, $18.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: In 1977 in the quiet English countryside a film called Alternative Three was aired. It was so shocking that for more then 30 years it's been discussed and analyzed. But what if Alternative Three was in fact real? Was it the blueprint for surviving the end of the world? How does it connect to the Secret Space Program, Nazi UFO's, SDI and even Chemtrails? Are there bases on the Moon? For the first time ever shocking details about the Secret Space Program and Alternative Three are exposed in the pages of "The Secret Space Age" by Olav Phillips as is the connections between some of the greatest conspiracies of all time and a secret government program to move to Mars to survive the coming global apocalypse. "The Secret Space Age" includes: Coming of Age in the Secret Space Race; Alternative Three -- The Most Dangerous Show Ever Produced; Geoengineering, Chemtrails and Global Dimming; D.U.M.B Projects and the End of the World; Agenda 21, The Population Bomb and the Georgia Guidestones; The Nazi Flying Saucers; Close Encounters of the Totally Germanic Kind; Lasers, UFOs, and SDI -- Evidence of the War in Space, Space Warden and the Hidden Military Machine in Orbit; Weapons in Orbit -- Arming the High Frontier; Moon Bases, Mars Bases and The Great Beyond; Staffing the Solar War Machine -- Mysterious Disappearances, National Parks, and the Break Away Civilization; and so much more.

Critique: Iconoclastic, revelatory, informed, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Secret Space Age: Secret Space Programs, Breakaway Civilizations, Nazi UFOs, SDI and Alternative Three" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Secret Space Age: Secret Space Programs, Breakaway Civilizations, Nazi UFOs, SDI and Alternative Three" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.09).

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Jesus Dialogues
Brennan R. Hill
Resource Publications, Inc.
5369 Camden Avenue #260, San Jose, CA 95124
9781498219105, $26.00, 228pp,

Synopsis: "The Jesus Dialogues: Jesus Speaks with Religious Founders and Leaders is unique in that it utilizes an interesting dialogue method to contrast and compare such an extensive number of religions. In each chapter, Jesus sits down with both women and men religious founders and leaders and talks with them on an equal basis about religious perspectives, past and present. "The Jesus Dialogues" is a thorough overview of Christianity, compared and contrasted with eight other religions as well as selected indigenous religions. A final chapter deals with the "why" and "how" of interfaith dialogue, which is so needed in today's diverse and global society. "The Jesus Dialogues" reflects author Brennan R. Hill's more than six decades of study and teaching in the areas of Christianity and world religions. It is based on sound scholarship, worldwide travel, and experience in interfaith dialogue. "The Jesus Dialogues" demonstrates that there is truth and a way to ultimacy in all religions. At the same time, listening in on these conversations reveals significant differences among religions. These dialogues help one realize that Gandhi was right when he said that we must listen to all religions in order to obtain just a glimpse of the divine.

Critique: Impressively well written and presented, "The Jesus Dialogues: Jesus Speaks with Religious Founders and Leaders" is an inherently fascinating read that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is informed and informative. Very highly recommended for church, seminary, community, and academic library Christian Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists, it should be noted for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in religion and spirituality that "The Jesus Dialogues" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A Better Choice
John C. Goodman
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
9781598132083, $14.95, 128pp,

Synopsis: Despite having surmounted numerous obstacles, the Affordable Care Act (also commonly referred to as "Obamacare") remains highly controversial and faces ongoing legal and political challenges. The law's staunchest critics want to repeal and replace the entire law, while even its supporters acknowledge that serious changes are needed. The question is: replace it with what? In "A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America", economist and John C. Goodman answers the question clearly and concisely. For anyone who wants to better understand Obamacare's most serious problems and learn about some of the boldest prescriptions designed to remedy them, Goodman's book is a must-read.

Critique: As informed and informative is it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America" will prove a valued contribution to our national dialogue over health care and is highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues reference collections and Health Care Policy supplemental studies reading lists.

From Elsewhere
Ciaran Carson
Wake Forest University Press
PO Box 7333, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
9781930630703, $15.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: Ciaran Carson is among the most restlessly groundbreaking poets now writing in English. In "From Elsewhere", he adds yet another dimension to his poetry and to the act of translation by combining them in homage to the French poet Jean Follain (1903-1971). Carson not only translates the original, but also adds his own poetic rendition, crafting a mosaic of translation and free response. The implications of Follain's poems are often made arrestingly explicit in Carson's versions. The silences in "Without Language" resound as the unfathomable echoes of "In Memory." The terror of Modernism in "The Burnt Island" becomes the modern terrorism of "Timing Device." When we arrive at "Without Courage" / "Translation" at the beginning of the third part, the poetic flight from Follain to Carson is comprehensive, though "changed in the meantime / that is elsewhere." We understand the title intimately as a conversation between poets across time and space.

Critique: Erudite, sophisticated, articulate, and memorable, "From Elsewhere" is very highly rewarding and recommended reading for those who appreciate well crafted word-based images and verse captured glimpses of the human experience and poetically phrased observations. An extraordinary body of work, "From Elsewhere" is highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.

Adirondack Outlaws
Niki Kourofsky
Farcountry Press
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781560376118, $14.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Adirondack Outlaws: Bad Boys and Lawless Ladies", local author and Adirondack historian Niki Kourofsky exposes the North Country's shadowy past of crime and dark deeds. Her wry, lively storytelling puts readers right in the thick of shootouts, jewel heists, bank robberies, manhunts, and unsolved murders. Spanning eight decades of Adirondack history and ranging from Glens Falls to the Canadian border, Adirondack Outlaws is a rollicking page-turner, rich in chilling details and amply illustrated with historical photographs.

Critique: History truly comes alive under the impressive storytelling talents of Niki Kourofsky in "Adirondack Outlaws: Bad Boys and Lawless Ladies". As entertaining as it is informative, "Adirondack Outlaws" is a great read and very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Regional American History collections.

The End Of American Labor Unions
Raymond L. Hogler
Praeger Publishers
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781440832390, $37.00, 192pp,

Synopsis: Arguing that the decline in union membership and bargaining power is linked to rising income inequality, "The End of American Labor Unions: The Right-to-Work Movement and the Erosion of Collective Bargaining" by Raymond L. Hogler (Professor of Management, Colorado State University) traces the evolution of labor law in America from the first labor-law case in 1806 through the passage of right-to-work legislation in Michigan and Indiana in 2012. In doing so, it shares important insights into economic development, exploring both the nature of work in America and the part the legal system played (and continues to play) in shaping the lives of American workers. "The End of American Labor Unions" illustrates the intertwined history of labor law and politics, showing how these forces quashed unions in the 19th century, allowed them to flourish in the mid-20th century, and squelched them again in recent years. Readers will learn about the negative impact of union decline on American workers and how that decline has been influenced by political forces. They will see how the right-to-work and Tea Party movements have combined to prevent union organizing, to the detriment of the middle class. And they will better understand the current failure to reform labor law, despite a consensus that unions can protect workers without damaging market efficiencies.

Critique: A critically important and timely study, ""The End of American Labor Unions: The Right-to-Work Movement and the Erosion of Collective Bargaining" is presented in four major chapters: Judges' Rules: Making the common Law of Labor, 1860-1933; From Section 7(a) to the Closed Shops States' Rights in Labor Law; Evolving Lavbor Policy: From World War II into the Obama Administration; A New Direction. Enhanced with an informative Introduction and Conclusion, an appendix (Trust Analysis); and an Index, ""The End of American Labor Unions" is an extraordinary read and a fundamentally imperative addition to academic library reference American Labor History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted "The End of American Labor Unions" is also available in a Kindle edition ($29.60).

Leading With GRIT
Laurie Sudbrink
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
Jane Wesman Public Relations Inc.
9781118975220, $35.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Based on Laurie Sudbrink's proprietary principles of GRIT (Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth) "Leading with GRIT" describes how working toward individual improvement produces better organizational results than traditional approaches that focus on collective improvement. Readers are introduced to GRIT with a framework that can be applied in any workplace scenario, and are provided with strategies for applying GRIT to communication and intra-office operations. Each chapter includes activities that assist with implementation, moving beyond the theoretical framework commonly taught in business school to provide a more practical approach to personal development. The principles of GRIT are exactly the sort of instruction leaders are encouraging, and companies worldwide are willing to invest large sums. The approach stands out for its unique, personal approach that melds values-based principles with business concepts to produce spectacular results. "Leading with GRIT" is a complete instructional guide with an emphasis on practicality including learn why the principles of GRIT have proven so effective; applying GRIT in communications for better productivity; discovering how each person impacts those around them; and cultivating a positive, constructive attitude for less stress and more growth. GRIT helps readers make themselves and their workplaces happier and healthier, decreasing stress, sparking personal growth, retaining employees, and developing mindful leaders. In essence, "Leading With GRIT" is a handbook for improving the bottom line by improving the lives and outlook of those who contribute to it.

Critique: As practical and insightful as it is informative and thought-provoking, "Leading with GRIT: Inspiring Action and Accountability with Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth" is very strongly recommended reading for business managers and supervisors. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Leading with GRIT" should be considered a high priority addition to community, corporate, and academic library Business Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Leading with GRIT" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Cat in the Flock
Lisa Brunette
Sky Harbor LLC
234 SW Lewis Street, Chehalis, WA 98532
9780986237706, $9.99, 194pp,

Synopsis: A sexy murder-mystery with a spiritual edge. For most people, dreams are a way to escape reality. But for Cat McCormick, they're a way to get closer to the truth. Cat can 'slip' into other people's dreams. After graduating college with a degree in criminal justice but little in the way of real-life experience, Cat moves from the Midwest to Seattle to apprentice with her Granny Grace, who shares the ability. Granny uses dreamslipping as a private investigator, and Cat plans to follow in her footsteps. But forced to take work as a security guard, Cat discovers a mother and daughter on the run. Following the clues, she goes undercover in a Midwestern megachurch, where she finds redemption and goodwill amidst repression, hypocrisy, and murder.

Critique: Clearly author Lisa Brunette has a genuine flair for deftly crafting a superbly entertaining mystery/suspense thriller. "Cat in the Flock" is a terrific read and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs, it should be note that "Cat in the Flock" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Deepening Engagement
Diane M. Millis
Skylight Paths Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781594735844, $14.99, 176pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy", professional leadership consultant and coach Diane M. Millis offers a tool kit for aspiring and practicing leaders of all kinds and all levels of spiritual involvement including people of faith, people of no faith, spiritual but not religious. "Deepening Engagement" focuses upon deepening our engagement with our true selves, one another and the communities in which we live and work. Millis provides guiding precepts from many wisdom traditions to help us realize what we most value and identify where we find passion and purpose. As a result, we will be better able to inspire others in all that we do. Intriguing and challenging, this thought-provoking resource is ideal for use in personal reflection as well as for small group discussion, as a way to invite others to tap into their own leadership potential.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy" is an inherently fascinating and informative read and highly recommended for both community and academic Self-Help/Self-Improvement/Personal Growth reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Deepening Engagement: Essential Wisdom for Listening and Leading with Purpose, Meaning and Joy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

Meditations For The New Mother
Helen Good Brenneman
Herald Press
1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
9780836133998, $7.99, 140pp,

Synopsis: Helen Good Brenneman created "Meditations For The New Mother" to be a unique devotional book specifically designed to meet the need for a sustaining faith and a quiet confidence in God when a new baby arrives. Daily meditations for the first 30 days strengthen and inspire new moms for the lifelong task of motherhood. "Meditations For The New Mother" series will appeal especially to traditional parents and mothers with a strong faith background who endeavor to raise their families in positive ways.

Critique: "Meditations For The New Mother" is a simply wonderful read from beginning to end and would make an ideal gift for baby showers. Inspired and inspiring, "Meditations For The New Mother" would be an enduringly popular addition to community library Parenting Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted that "Meditations For The New Mother" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Enough Already
Mike Iamele
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573246477, $14.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: In a world where success means owning a company before your 30th birthday, Mike Iamele seemed to have it all. By the age of 24, he was already making piles of money at his own public relations firm. And it was killing him. Literally. When a stress-induced illness brought him to his knees, he began to question everything he believed about success. And everywhere he turned, he met other young entrepreneurs who were praying to the temples of money, status, and power--and making themselves stressed and sick. Mike decided he'd had enough. He was ready to find success on his own terms.

Mike Iamele now has a thriving practice as a wellness coach, and in the pages of this book he'll help you figure out what a successful life looks like for you--and how to get it. Through a process not unlike the classic hero's journey, Mike will show you how to create the success of your dreams--whether it's your first million by 22 or just a happy life.

In Enough Already, Iamele challenges us to take back control of our lives and to chart our own successful path to happiness by considering: Have you had enough? Are you working yourself numb fulfilling someone else's idea of success?; What would you stay up all night doing or talking about if you could? What if you could get paid for that?; What if you could create a successful life around what you love?; What if you could change the world?; What's stopping you?

Critique: "Enough Already: Create Success on Your Own Terms" is motivation disguised as a simply self-improvement guide. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Enough Already" will serve as a template for the reader seeking to establish their own path. If you only have time for one self-help/self-improvement book, then you would be very well served to make it Mike Iamele's "Enough Already"! Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Enough Already" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

The Love Drama of C.G.Jung: As Revealed In His Life And In His Red Book
Maria Helena Mandacaru Guerra
Inner City Books
Box 1271, Station Q, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4T 2P4
9781894574426, $25.00, 128pp,

Synopsis: The Red Book was always a true legend in the Jungian movement. It was thought to reveal the great secrets of the master's personal and sometimes controversial life. Now, it would be untrue to say that Jung condoned or encouraged infidelity. However, he did experience it as necessary, in his case, to love more than one woman, with all the attendant guilt and suffering, in order to plumb the depths of his soul. His testament to the reality of the psyche is revealed in his Red Book and explicated here by Jungian psychologist Maria Helena Guerra.

Critique: A seminal study of impressive detail and informative commentary, "The Love Drama of C.G.Jung: As Revealed In His Life And In His Red Book" is an exceptional and critically accomplished contribution to the growing library of Jungian studies. An informed and informative read for students of Jung, "The Love Drama of C.G.Jung: As Revealed In His Life And In His Red Book" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, and academic library Jungian Studies reference collections and reading lists.

Oliver Larry Yarbrough
Orbis Books
Box 302, Maryknoll NY 10545-0302
9781626981195, $18.00, 168pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Passion: Contemporary Writers on the Story of Calvary", five distinguished writers (Julia Alvarez, Stephanie Saldana, John Elder, Jay Parini, and Elizabeth Cook) offer moving reflections on the four Gospel narratives of the Passion of Christ. In telling the story of Jesus, all four of the evangelists reserved special attention for the story of his passion and death. These narratives hold a unique place in Christian devotion. These distinguished American writers wrestle with troubling aspects of the Passion narratives in ways that draw readers more closely into the text. In writing on Luke, for example, Stephanie Saldana, who lives and writes in Jerusalem, takes the reader to the sites of Holy Week, meditating on the story and her experiences of living in a torn city. Julia Alvarez begins with her memories of the Stations of the Cross as a young girl in the Dominican Republic (and then in New York City) and then reflects on how reading the Gospel of Mark makes her look more carefully at the stories behind the Stations. John Elder's piece begins with a confession that he finds Matthew's passion deeply disturbing because of the tension and anger in the story and contrasts it to the vision of Jesus he learned from his family, weaving, throughout meditations on how he might yet make sense of Matthew. Jay Parini reflects on the ways he has read the fourth gospel at different stages of his life. Finally, Elizabeth Cook wrestles with the challenge of rewriting the Passion for the twenty-first century, not for readers but for an audience who will hear her libretto sung to very contemporary music.

Critique: Informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "Passion: Contemporary Writers on the Story of Calvary" is an extraordinary collection and very strongly recommended for church, seminary, and academic library New Testament Studies reference collections. Especially commended to the attention of the Catholic community, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Passion: Contemporary Writers on the Story of Calvary" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice
Christina Robertson & Jennifer Westerman, editors
University of Nevada Press
Mail Stop 0166. Reno, NV, 89557-0166
9780874179637, $29.95, 296pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Christina Robertson (who earned her PhD in literature and the environment at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she teaches environmental literature, ethnic studies, and composition) and Jennifer Westerman (Assistant Professor of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where she specializes in environmental literature, working-class studies, and environmental justice), "Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice" is a collection of twelve essays which examines the relationship between environmental injustice and the exploitation of working-class people. Twelve erudite scholars from the fields of environmental humanities and the humanistic social sciences explore connections between the current and unprecedented rise of environmental degradation, economic inequality, and widespread social injustice in the United States and Canada. The essays challenge prevailing cultural narratives that separate ecological and human health from the impacts of modern industrial capitalism. Essay themes range from how human survival is linked to nature to how the use and abuse of nature benefit the wealthy elite at the expense of working-class people and the working poor as well as how climate change will affect cultures deeply rooted in the land. Ultimately, "Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice" calls for a working-class ecology as an integral part of achieving just and sustainable human development.

Critique: Enhanced with an the inclusion of an introduction (Toward a Working-Class Ecology) and a thirty-three page Index, "Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice" is organized and presented in three main sections: Working for a Living: Class, Justice, and Environment; The Way We Work: Toxic Consequences; The Workers and the Land: Toward a Just and Sustainable Future. "Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice" is a work of truly impressive and relevant scholarship throughout, making it very highly recommended for both community and academic library Environmental Studies and Social Justice reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice" is also available in a Kindle edition ($25.61).

Some Slow Bees
Carol Potter
Oberlin College Press
Peters Hall Rom G08, 50 North Professor Street
Oberlin, OH 44074
9780932440488, $15.95, 96pp,

Synopsis: "Some Slow Bees" is poet Carol Potter's new collection of verse in which she focuses upon trouble, about loss: relationships, farms, parents, places. But there's also humor, a wry look at the way we invite or stumble into trouble and how we embrace the adventure. From children at their desks watching the flood leak into the schoolroom, to the narrator and her lover paddling down a river in the dark, the book charts a journey from loss to repair. It ends with a sonnet sequence, "The Miss Nancy Papers," that leads us from the psychological terrain of the 1950s into the present, where "if anyone knew what war we were coming home from / we would come home from it". "Some Slow Bees" is a volume of poetry about how to get lost, and how to get home.

Critique: Carol Potter's four previous books have earned many admirers and multiple awards. But the scope and depth of "Some Slow Bees" (winner of the 2014 Field Poetry Prize), will be a revelation even to her most devoted fans and a impressive introduction to those who have not previously encountered her work. "Some Slow Bees" is very highly recommended for community and academic library American Poetry collections.

Supporting Beginning Teachers
Tina H. Boogren
Marzano Research Laboratory
555 N. Morton St., Bloomington, IN 47404
9780983815235, $19.95, 120pp,

Synopsis: Effective classroom teaching is a skill that must be practiced to be improved. New teachers must be given the time and professional guidance they need to become expert teachers. "Supporting Beginning Teachers" presents key research findings, and examines the four types of support-physical, emotional, instructional, and institutional-that are crucial during a teacher's first year in the classroom. Readers will discover essential strategies for K-12 mentors, coaches, and school leaders to develop an effective mentoring program school-wide; review research related to high teacher turnover rates; consider the important components and new-teacher supports that school leaders should have at the forefront of mentoring programs; learn how to ascertain which teachers have the skills and experience to be effective mentors and how these mentors can form prosperous relationships with their mentees. "Supporting Beginning Teachers" provides answer chapter-ending comprehension questions to retain each chapter's main topics. Of special note is Tina H. Boogren's personal essays from her own first year of teaching, each accompanied by questions that mentors and mentees can use to spark discussion.

Critique: Informed and informative, "Supporting Beginning Teachers" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it a very highly recommended addition to personal, professional, college, and university library Teaching & Education instructional resource collections. It should be noted that "Supporting Beginning Teachers" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.97).

The Wisdom of Merlin
T. A. Barron
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
Goodman Media
9780399173257, $12.99, 80pp,

Synopsis: Based on an address he gave to students at the University of Oxford in 2013, T. A. Barron, author of the New York Times bestselling "Merlin Saga", channels the wizard Merlin and offers advice on how to live a meaningful life in "The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life". Divided into sections, each revolving around a magical word, "The Wisdom of Merlin" poetically explores the concepts of Gratitude, Courage, Knowledge, Belief, Wonder, Generosity, Hope, and Love. A gem of inspiration, this is the perfect graduation gift, sure to encourage readers of all ages to live life to the fullest.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kid friendly' from first page to last, "The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life" is very highly recommended for young readers ages 10 to 18 and for school library collections grades 5 to 12. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections as well, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.78).

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Peyti Crisis: Anniversary Day Saga
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
9781561466160, $18.99

Five decades before the horrific Anniversary Day terrorist attacks on the moon; at an Earth Alliance Prison employee Didier Conte enlists the help of reluctant coworker Jhena Andre. He asks Jhena to bring evidence bags to the containment cell so that Didier can remove something of value from mass murderer PierLuigi Fremont, who just committed suicide rather than remain incarcerated isolation. Didier plans to sell what he took to Fremont's fanatic followers.

On the moon's fourth Anniversary Day, a wave of bombings leaves thousands dead. The Moon's head of security Noelle DeRicci partially thwarts a follow-up by suicide bombing Peyti lawyer clones to kill millions more though many of the attorneys' clients die alongside them. She works with Retrieval Artist Miles Flint and Detective Bartholomew Nyquist in search of the terrorist leadership and logistical support cells. At the same time frustrated and angry over how close his beloved wife and child came to dying, powerful Luc Deshin also investigates using sources unavailable to the law. He concludes that he, Flint and DeRicci need to team up to expedite efforts to uncover who planned and oversaw the terrorist execution.

The fantastic fifth Anniversary Day Saga science fiction continues the superb monthly releases (see Search & Recovery, Anniversary Day, Blowback and A Murder of Clones) that brilliantly push forward a completed climatic storyline while also adding depth to the overarching theme. Filled with action and a strong cast especially the lead threesome, Kristine Kathryn Rusch enhances her plot with a timely look at whether a clone should be considered a citizen. This outer space tale is another triumphant entry in one of the top science fiction sagas in recent years.

African Equation
Yasmina Khadra, author
Howard Curtis, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781908313706, $15.95,

In Frankfurt, Dr. Kurt and Jessica Krausmann share a loving relationship. Thus when she unexpectedly commits suicide, Kurt mourns fiercely while also paralyzed by guilt compounded by being an MD for failing to see the signs. He is further shocked when he learns his beloved killed herself over a promotion that Jessica felt she earned, but someone with less credentials received.

Kurt's friend Hans Makkenroth persuades the grieving widower to join him on a humanitarian mission to the Union of Comoros archipelago off East Africa. Sailing the Mediterranean for several weeks proves healing for Kurt. However in the Gulf of Aden, pirates violently take their vessel and incarcerate the two men and others as hostages. Over the next few weeks the guards abuse their prisoners with Joma personally targeting Kurt until Chief Moussa intervenes saving the German's life. Depressed from feeling helpless Kurt struggles to keep Hans from dying from a saber wound. Kurt's giving up on life until he meets Bruno from Bordeaux who gives him hope while explaining the anger of Africans towards their so-called White Man's burden benefactors.

African Equation is an intriguing look at the continent from the perspectives of the pirates whose overall attitude is the hostages are flies trapped in a spider's web while their leaders see a cash crop, and stunned Europeans re their harsh mistreatment except enlightened Bruno. The storyline starts leisurely but allows the reader to understand Kurt before hyper-accelerating once the pirates capture the good samaritans. Although the pirates change dramatically from feral warriors to intellectual philosophers over the course of the plot, readers will relish this profound look at how different Africans and Europeans perceive their dysfunctional relationship.

Under the Channel
Gilles Petel, author
Emily Boyce, translator
Jane Aitken, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781908313669, $15.95,

While Great Britain struggles with the impact of the financial crisis, Scottish estate agent John Burny decides to escape by train to Paris for an upper class getaway weekend vacation though he feels the strain of the failing economy. He struggles to make it to the last train of the night on time and becomes further frustrated when inside the Chunnel his train breaks down for ten minutes before continuing on to the French station. All the passengers disembark except John; someone on-board murdered him.

French Police lieutenant Roland Desfeuilleres leads the investigation into who garroted the visitor. Getting nowhere and seizing an opportunity to escape his personal life tsuris temporarily, Desfeuilleres heads to London to learn more about the victim. Checking in with his British counterparts, Desfeuilleres is taken back by their irrelevant attitude, but remains motivated to find who had the motive and opportunity to kill John Burny.

This is a captivating French police procedural as the protagonist walks several kilometers in a dead man's shoes, but learns as much about whom he is as he does himself. Filled with dark satirical humor, fans of offbeat crime investigations will want to join Desfeuilleres' tour of London.

Operation Arcana
John Joseph Adams
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780368, $15.00,

"Rules of Enchantment" by David Klecha and Tobias S. Buckell. The American military battle Orcs, Trolls and others in a two-front war.

"The Damned One Hundred" by Jonathan Mayberry. The enemy forces have much greater fire power especially witches and vampires, but they stand united expecting death.

"Blood, Ash, Braids" by Genevieve Valentine. In WWII Russian female pilots use witchcraft.

"Mercenary's Honor by Elizabeth Moon. On Paksworld, two mercenary commanders seek to avoid massive deaths.

"The Guns of the Wastes" by Django Wexler. The academy grad meets his first enemy alien.

"The Graphology of Hemorrhage" by Yoon Ha Lee. The recipe for shadow soup starts with obtaining a shadow.

"American Golem" by Weston Ochse. In Afghanistan, the deserter seeks the terrorist who killed his brother; unaware that his sibling became a golem searching for that same killer.

"Weapon's in the Earth" by Myke Cole. Their enemy captures several of the tribe's goblins.

"Heavy Sulfur" by Ari Marmell. In the trenches, both sides deploy sorcerers and necromancers.

"Steel Ships" by Tanya Huff. The enemy's ironclad armada leaves the only hope with shapeshifters.

"Sealskin" by Carrie Vaughn. The PTSD veteran travels to Ireland, but faces a life impacting crossroad.

"Pathfinder" by T. C. McCarthy. During the Korean Conflict, the nurse helps the dying join their ancestors.

"Bone Eaters" by Glen Cook. The Black Company is trapped inside a village of ghosts.

"Bomber's Moon" by Simon R. Green. With the Devil joining the Nazis, God sends Archangel Uriel to help the allies.

"In Skeleton Leaves" by Seanan McGuire. The Neverland conflict seems eternal, but the latest female Pan believes she can win.

"The Way Home" by Linda Nagata. Demons trap the unit whose only chance is every death means one escapes.

Overall this is a very good military fantasy collection with no clinkers though several need a longer format. Superior entries include "Bone Eaters" and "Bomber's Moon".

Into the Maelstrom
David Drake and John Lambshead
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780283, $25.00,

Having served in combat and still containing the bitter taste of war stuck in his throat, Allen Allenson prays for peace. However, being a realist, Allenson knows the hostilities between the Mother World and the distant colonies will soon turn violent. When the inevitable occurs, he knows which side he will fight for though he expects his colonial forces to lose to the overwhelming superiority of the homeworld.

When the war comes, Allenson agrees to be the captain-general of ragtag untrained, unprofessional and un-united internally bickering militias. His hope to snatch victory from certain defeat (and death for him as a traitor if he survives combat) resides with the mists that enable his unfit units to avoid the enemy's trained professionals' Brasilian lasers and ergo force more face to face fighting.

The second Citizen science fiction (see Into the Hinterlands) is an outstanding outer space rendition of George Washington leading the Revolutionary War. The hero is a magnificent lead with his soliloquies particularly on the inanity yet inevitability of war as the solution to disputes. Part of the fun comes from matching events in the storyline with real incidents; although that proves a double edge sword since the audience will know the outcomes to this pleasurable read.

Kittens Can Kill: A Pru Marlowe Pet Noir
Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
MM Book Publicity
9781464203602, $24.95,

In Beauville, animal behaviorist and pet trainer Pru Marlowe arrives at the home of client David Canaday. There she finds the affluent attorney lying dead on his kitchen floor. Near the corpse is Ernesto the kitten who one of the deceased's daughters left with her dad. It appears David died from a toxic reaction to the feline though Pru, after "consulting" with the "suspect", thinks otherwise.

Pru leaves Ernesto with her reluctant sleuthing feline partner Wallis so she can make inquiries into the victim's past. She also ignores the amused warning of her boyfriend Police Detective Jim Creighton to let this one go. Instead she sets out to prove Ernesto did not kill David.

The fifth Pru Marlowe Berkshires pet noir (see Panthers Play for Keeps and Parrots Prove Deadly) is a lighthearted anthropomorphic cozy. Though the murder mystery seems obvious early on, series fans will adore Pru's amateur sleuthing

Tom Hall & The Captain Of All These Men Of Death
Russell Hill
Caravel Book
c/o Pleasure Boat Studio
201 W. 89th St., New York, NY 10024
9780912887258, $17.00,

Eddie Hall's wife left him and their tweener son Tom in Chicago to move back to Kentucky with their eight year old daughter Pamela. In 1945 tuberculosis forces Eddie to quit his job at the race tracks near Chicago. Soon afterward Eddie, accompanied by twelve years old Tom, ride the train to the Metzenbaum Sanitarium in Arizona where he expects to die.

No healthy child has ever arrived at the sanitarium before, so no one knows what to do with Tom. In nearby Vallecitos, the lad makes friends with three Indian boys (Willie, Tiny and Chief), and at the sanitarium with some of the "Lungers" and Nurse Larry. Tom becomes confused when he sees his dad dancing with Larry and over the unnecessary death of Willie. When his father informs him that they, Larry who caught TB working at the clinic, Tiny and Chief will head to Los Angeles as Metzenbaum is a quack, Tom looks forward to new adventures.

With a title reference to John Bunyan, Tom Hall & The Captain Of All These Men Of Death is a fascinating coming of age historical. The stunning insight into the TB clinics of the 1940s grips the reader as if we are with Tom witnessing firsthand how a sanitarium was run. While coming across as a novella sequel to the remarkable sanitarium subplot; Tom and company's trip to Southern California provides a deep look at life in post WWII Los Angeles, but though extremely well-written lacks the dynamic force generated by the stay at Magic Mountain.

Pocket Apocalypse
Seanan McGuire
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756408121, $7.99,

Cryptozoologist Alex Price, like most of his kin (see his sister Verity star in Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special), courageously has fought against all sorts of paranormal brutes including in-family combat. However; the one species that shook his courage the most was his only encounter with a werewolf. That battle still haunts him as if it just happened.

So when his Australian girlfriend Shelby Tanner pleads with him to accompany her home to fight a werewolf epidemic threatening the continent, Price rationalizes two reasons to remain in Ohio: werewolves and meeting the parents. Alex also has two reasons to go Down Under: being a curious Price Cryptozoologist and Shelby. In Australia he meets paranormal species he never met before, local cryptozoologists who want the damn Yankee to go home and the disapproving Tanner brood patriarch Riley head of the Thirty-Sixer who hates anything Price. As the visiting American learns more about the exponential growing werewolf pandemic, Alex wonders what he can do to prevent species cleansing especially after he is bitten.

The fourth InCryptid urban fantasy continues Alex's misadventures (see Half-Off Ragnarok) while relocating from the States to Australia, which adds new challenges from a new assortment of monsters and of course the hostile Tanners. As always with Seanan McGuire's novels the fast-paced storyline contains a terrific support cast held together by the reluctant hero.

The Crow of Connemara
Stephen Leigh
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756409371, $25.95

Encouraged by his maternal Aunt Patty, third generation American Colin Doyle wanted to explore the Old Country's music, but his father adamantly told him to never go to Ireland. When his father suffers a heart attack that leaves him in the Cardiac ICU, Colin returns to Chicago from the university to see him, his mom, two older siblings and his aunt. Upon his dad's death and ignoring his father's wishes, Colin travels to Ireland to seek the woman who has haunted his dreams.

Knowing the Old Ones are dying, Maeve Gallagher the Oileanach seeks the right bard to preserve their heritage. She believes he resides across the Atlantic, but her reaching out to him when he sleeps has not gotten him to come to her and Eire until now. When Maeve and Colin meet in person for the first time, she knows he is the chosen one and he realizes she has been the star of many of his dreams. As they travel together to Oileanach Island, evil stirs wanting to escape their imprisonment underneath the land.

The Crow of Connemara is a fabulous Celtic fantasy in which the ancient and modern worlds overlap through the lead couple. Once the hero arrives in the Old Country, this novel turns into a wonderfully complex tale. Upon stepping onto Oileanach alongside astonished Colin, readers will marvel at the vividness of Leigh's realm as much as the gripping plot.

Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan
Vasudev Murthy
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
MM Book Publicity
9781464203657, $24.95,

The fight to the death at Reichenbach Falls back in '91 left the combatants Holmes and Moriarty dead. Two years later, Dr. John Watson, having trouble accepting Holmes is gone forever, still grieves for his friend. Thus a letter from Yokohama stuns Watson. Astonished by its contents, Watson finds it contains a first class merchant ship ticket from Liverpool to Japan and a note in Holmes's handwriting: "Watson, I need you..."

On the vessel, Watson shares a suite with Kazushi Hasimoto, who becomes a murder victim. That proves a lethal omen to what happens in India, Cambodia, China, Japan and other stops to Watson; as apparently Moriarty, who also survived the fight at the Falls, deploys a diabolically clever scheme to rule the world.

Feeling like Holmes and Watson star in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, readers will appreciate this frantic yet ironically at times leisurely-paced thriller filled with dry witty asides. As the sleuthing pair serves as our guides, fans will relish a grand tour of the globe accompanying them in pursuit of the Professor.

The Perfect Game
Leslie Dana Kirby
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464201776, $24.99

When Lauren Rose became an emergency-medicine intern at Phoenix Good Samaritan Hospital, she was ecstatic as her sister Liz, married to Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jake Wakefield, lives nearby. The sibling and the mate are stunned when someone kills Liz. Neither Lauren nor Jake has time to grieve, as Scottsdale PD considers them prime suspects; the lead detectives especially hone in more on the sibling than the spouse.

The evidence that Lauren committed sororicide mounts as forensics uncover deleted related Internet searches; a lie detector test proves inconclusive; eye witnesses testify against her; and much more add up to her in deep trouble. Making matters worse is the only suspects have a fling.

The Perfect Game is an intriguing police procedural-legal thriller with an excellent courtroom battle, a comparatively weaker investigation and an odd (under exaggerated by me) behaving damsel in distress. While on trial for first degree murder, Lauren's affair with late Liz's boyfriend will have the audience shaking their heads in disbelief; the protagonist seems in denial while making her precarious future shakier with a tryst that could be the last nail in her coffin.

Twisted Innocence
Terri Blackstock
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310332367, $15.99,

In Panama City, Florida, two meth addicts mug cabby Holly Cramer and destroy her taxi. Seeing this as a wakeup call, the former biker chick turned single mom raising her baby Lily plans to change her wilding ways. Besides motherhood and taxi driver, Holly works as a private investigator alongside her sisters Cathy (see Truth Stained Lies) and Juliet (see Distortion). She also conceals from everyone including her family the identity of her infant's father and that Lily was conceived in a one-niter.

However, Lily's dad Creed Kershaw arrives in Panama City wanting to be in the lives of his two females although Holly wants nothing to do with her past; especially with him after a visit from the Southport PD who has an interest in him as a murder suspect. Creed insists to Holly that drug-king Leonard Miller framed him. Although she and her sisters have a violent history with Miller, Holly disbelieves Creed. Desperate to keep his women safe, Creed kidnaps Lily and Holly.

The third Moonlighter romantic suspense is an electrifying thriller that deftly combines second (and third) chances with an action-packed storyline and an anticipated clash that will not let the audience down. As always in a Terri Blackstock novel, the key cast is fully developed with this storyline concentrating on the third sister's redemption; that is if she lives long enough.

Adventures in Amethyst Series Collection, Volume 1 (Books 1 - 4)
Karen Wiesner
Writers Exchange E-Publishing
9781312845701, $12.99

"A Rose for Romeo." The recognized guru of everything sexual in spite of her personal commitment phobia, Dr. Mindy Rose is burned out on the demands everyone makes of her. Needing escape from her celebrity life, Mindy using her real name Melina and returns to Amethyst, Wisconsin planning to buy property but her sister's former boyfriend Scott "Romeo" Romero already purchased it.

"Revenge in Amethyst." With her Mindy persona apparently on permanent hiatus, pregnant Melina and Scott plan to marry. The townsfolk for the most part are happy with one jealous exception.

"Reckless Rose." Melina's realtor sister Lona has a deserved bad girl reputation in Amethyst. However, since she and Reece Childs fell in love, Lona tries to overcome her ill-repute status, but many townsfolk refuse to give her a pass.

"Christmas in Amethyst." Nine months has passed since Melina gave birth to a girl and Lona now is carrying. Scott's cousin single mom Sheila Mason pays for the mistake she made with Travis Dannon that shaped her life by giving her beloved five year old son Devlin. Her child comes before her undeserving dreams of a second chance with Police Officer Jeb who also wants a do-over with his love to include "their" Dev. Someone else has a different ending in mind for Dev's mom than a puppy for her son on Christmas Day.

These reprints of the awesome Adventures in Amethyst dramas contain diverse fully developed females dealing with personal crisis, but also supported in differing ways by their men. This is a splendid anthology with a new tale (see Til Summer Comes Around) just released separately.

Til Summer Comes Around: Adventures in Amethyst
Karen Wiesner
Writers Exchange E-Publishing
9781312373792, $13.95

In Amethyst, Wisconsin, Quinn Rutledge and Summer Rosales meet for the first time near Lake Amethyst. Over the summer they fall in love. As their vacation ends, Quinn and Summer make pledges to each other before going their separate ways. However, over the next few years, Summer failed to return as promised, breaking Quinn's heart as he waits for her.

Unbeknownst to Quinn, just before Summer headed off to law school, as a lark her best friend wealthy Apple Wooten committed a theft of an expensive diamond bracelet. However the police arrest Summer as Apple knowing she was seen dumped the jewelry in her friend's purse letting her take the fall. Convicted, while in prison another inmate assaulted her; causing her to lose Quinn's baby and scarring her face. Released due to Apple's belated confession to her parents, Summer finally went to law school. Now she returns to Amethyst where she assumes the love of her life will not be there and if he is Summer fears she cannot deal with his certain rejection; unaware of his heart's obsession and writer's block.

With a nod to the classic Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr An Affair to Remember, the fifth Adventures in Amethyst (see Adventures in Amethyst Series Collection, Volume 1 (Books 1 - 4)) is a delightful second chance contemporary romance. Readers will root for the warm lead couple to make it; while booing the amoral 1% Wooten siblings (Summer was married to Apple's brother Clay).

Philip Donlay
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091393, $26.95,

In Guatemala, US Geological Survey volcanologist Rick Mathews leads a team of four from Guatemala City to determine whether dormant Atitlan is about to erupt. However, as they reach their destination, men fire shots killing Rick, volcanologist in training Oliver Pelletier and their security guard. The other member of the party, fortyish photographer Stephanie VanGelder shoots pictures of the deadly assault before hiding in the forest while praying for her life.

Donovan Nash's estranged wife Lauren sends FBI Agent Charles to Montana to inform him that his childhood summer buddy Stephanie went missing in Guatemala. Not wasting a moment, Nash and an Eco-Watch team head to Atitlan even as the mountain erupts; at the same time Lauren looks into the criminal activity of those seemingly involved with Stephanie's apparent kidnapping.

Series fans need to wear a seatbelt while reading the adrenaline pumping, faster than the speed of light fifth Donovan Nash thriller (see Deadly Echoes and Zero Separation). Though literally (by air) and figuratively over the top of the volcano, Aftershock is an action-filled tale with no respites.

Edge Of Dark
Brenda Cooper
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633880504, $18.00,

The purebred banished the crossbreeding of human and machine AI experimenters to beyond the Edge of Dark for breaking the laws of nature. However, the humans never anticipated the Next AI amalgams to return, but they do; exponentially more powerful than when they were forced to leave and incredibly stronger than those who banished them.

The seemingly invincible Next attacks a remote station where they change humans that they killed like Chrystal into robots by pasting their memories into a machine. Chrystal's BFF affluent Nona Hall of Diamond Deep is assigned to negotiate with the Next abominations. As is ranger Charlie Windar; who oversees what he considers mankind's most critical mission, the restoration of the planet Lym into a thriving nature reserve after human abuse destroyed the planet. Neither human understands why their much more powerful adversaries are willing to discuss a deal with them.

Returning to the universe of Ruby's Song (see The Diamond Deep and The Creative Fire), this first Glittering Edge interesting science fiction raises several timely major ethical questions to include what a human is and how far industrialization should go. Charlie the fanatic environmentalist and Chrystal with acceptance of her forced change facilitate reader understanding and visualization of Brenda Cooper's realm through their respective filters. For the most part aimless spoiled Nona proves a subtraction.

Less Than Hero
S. G. Browne
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476711744, $16.00,

Although he has a degree in marketing, for the last five years thirtyish Lloyd has earned money panhandling in the Manhattan parks and as a professional pharmaceutical Phase One drug trial subject to determine side effects. He, like his peers, gains no health benefits from the assorted cocktails they test. Recently Lloyd noticed an increase in drowsiness that causes people near him suddenly to fall asleep and rashes in places where most men prefer none to surface, among other manifestations. Checking with his card playing crash dummy cronies, Lloyd concludes he and his merry band of guinea pigs have superpowers that they all agree to use as a team of superheroes fighting crime.

At the Carnegie Deli, patron Brad begins screaming of shark attacks and at a Starbucks customer Debra strips while screaming she is on fire. Similar incidents lead Lloyd and his team to believe the guinea pigs cause "normal" New Yorkers to hallucinate. As they have some success dealing with the felonious dregs, robbers mug residents and visitors, but also eradicate the victim's memory of the theft.

With a nod to the films Mystery Men and Sicko, Less Than Hero is a super (pun intended) satire that stars superhero guinea pigs who mock and condemn an immoral pharmaceutical-government complex and the American exceptionalism health care system. Readers will want to join Lloyd's stunning tour of New York; as long as he does not cause us to hallucinate, sleep or suffer memory loss and rashes.

The Tomb: A Novel of Martha
Stephanie Landsem
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451689129, $14.99,

Everyone respects Martha as the paragon of Jewish women who looks over the well-being of her family, and is kind and considerate to neighbors and strangers. However, Martha conceals the secret of when she sinned. At her sister Mary's wedding, she met and fell in love with Isa the musician; they shared an intimacy with his promise to return to her, but he never did.

Seven years has passed since Martha's transgression that only her brother Lazarus knows how she fell from grace. The family patriarch Lazarus knows he is dying and wants to insure he meets his death bed vow he made to his dad to take care of Martha. Thus he arranges a marriage between his sibling and pious Pharisee Simon because he believes the latter will forgive Martha. She wants to beg the alleged Messiah her cousin Jesus to save her brother, but fears Simon's holy wrath starting with threatening to reveal her wrongdoing, a stoning sin. At the same time near the Galilee, Jesus miraculously heals Isa from the demons that have tormented him for years. Isa heads to see Martha praying that he is not too late.

The third Living Water biblical series (see The Thief and The Well) is a terrific tale that focuses on the trials and tribulations of Lazarus' sister Martha. Driven by the nurturing yet haunted lead female who risks her life and soul to save her brother, readers will appreciate this entertaining drama as Stephanie Landsem enables the audience to visit first century Judea through the eyes of pious Martha and to a lesser degree her siblings.

Mist of Midnight
Sandra Byrd
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476717869, $14.99,

In 1858, Rebecca Ravenshaw grieves the loss of her missionary parents Sir Charles and Constance Ravenshaw killed during a Mutiny. Accompanied by her newly hired chaperone Mrs. MacAlister, she leaves Bombay to return to her homeland England for the first time in two decades. A couple of months later in England, Rebecca meets with her father's solicitor Walter Hightower, but he and others think she is a cruel charlatan as the real Rebecca recently committed suicide at the family estate Headbourne; even her companion doubts who she is. She also learns that a stranger Captain Luke Whitfield has taken residence at her family estate.

Highmore interrogates her and says the London Missionary Society will send someone in a few months to prove the preposterous imposter's claim is false. Whitfield allows Rebecca to stay at Headbourne until he assumes her scam is exposed. The staff treats her with contempt and incidents targeting Rebecca begin happening. Falling in love with her host who she fears might have killed the fake and soon her too, the beleaguered Rebecca turns to the Lord and her late mom for comfort and guidance.

Mist of Midnight is an exhilarating Gothic romantic suspense. The impact on the three-dimensional heroine by the identity theft is brilliantly executed as Sandra Byrd authors a taut Victorian thriller.

Apparition Island
Jenifer LeClair
Conquill Press
9780990846109, $15.00,

Still on medical leave after being shot and her partner killed while on duty several months ago, Minneapolis Homicide Detective Brie Beaumont works as a second mate on the Schooner Maine Wind sailing with passengers and crew along the New England coast. When the torrential rains and winds of Hurricane Ivan begin to blow in force off Maine, Captain John DuLac sails for Apparition Island.

As they near their anchoring locale, Brie shouts "man overboard!" John notifies the Coast Guard while they bring a deceased female onboard. On Apparition Island, Brie, who also helps the Maine State Police, learns the victim was reporter Claire Whitehall. She also finds out that the dead journalist was researching the Outer Banks "lobster wars". Though the islanders remain uncooperative and taciturn, Claire's investigation leads her to the 1958 cold case death of Blythe Danes Whitehall and consequently threats on her own life.

The fourth Windjammer mystery (see Rigged for Murder, Danger Sector and Cold Coast) contains a fabulous police procedural located on a temporarily locked down Maine island. Fans will believe they are visiting the isolated picturesque location made bleaker by the hurricane and meeting its reticent residents. Jenifer LeClair provides her fans with another thrilling investigation in a consistently excellent series.

Part Time Cowboy
Maisey Yates
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779598, $7.99,

A decade ago, as an out of control teen with a record Sadie Miller left Copper Ridge, Oregon for good. Now ten years later, Sadie returns home hoping to start over. On her first day back in town, Sadie runs into the one person she planned to avoid at least until she settles in; Deputy Sheriff Eli Garrett, the rigid rancher who arrested her just before she fled Copper Ridge.

Having enough tsuris to last several lifetimes from his siblings, Eli has no doubt the bad seed remain the same felonious troublemaker she was as a teen; but frustrated by his attraction to Sadie in spite of his upper head warning him not to. Making matters more difficult on his already out of control libido is Sadie has taken over the B&B on his family ranch. Likewise Sadie loathes her yearning for the by the book cop to kiss her.

This Copper Ridge Oregonian romance (see e-novella Should Have Been A Cowboy) is an entertaining contemporary gender war between two amiable opposites in love. The storyline starts leisurely enabling readers to meet the key series players and the rustic locale, but once we learn who's who, the pace accelerates into a warm humorous drama.

The Closer You Come
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779628, $7.99

In Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, Brook Lynn Dillon has spent a lifetime getting her older sister Jessie Kay out of one trouble after another. So she is not surprised to learn that intoxicated Jessie Kay is at the flat shared by three roommates (Jase Hollister, Lincoln West and Beck Ockley). Without causing further problems, Brook Lynn extracts her drunken sister from the bachelors' pad though to her astonishment she is attracted to Jase.

An ex-con who spent years behind bars for manslaughter, starting over Jase is even more amazed that he wants seemingly straight-laced Brook Lynn. He weighs asking her out against staying single; as he begins his new life without commitments except for his vow of no criminal activity. Rationalizing she will reject him the moment she learns of his deadly past, Jase tries but fails to ignore his feelings.

This Original Heartbreakers Sooner romance (see e-novella: The One You Want) is an appealing contemporary as the audience meets the prime series cast and the small-town when Brook Lynn crashes Jase's residence like infantry charging the enemy with a rescue in mind. The key to this superb second chance at life is the depth of the intermingled and somewhat mangled relationships between the protagonists, her sister and his roommates; especially to the delight of fans how love befuddles Brook Lynn and Jase.

Tyler Anne Snell
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698295, $5.50

Culpepper, Florida Police Detectives Braydon Thatcher and Tom Langdon lead the investigation into missing Amanda Alcaster, whose mom filed the missing person's report. Cal Green the mechanic calls the station to report his conscientious secretary Trixie Martin has not come to work in two days. In his office, irate out-of-towner Sophia Hardwick demands Braydon find her older sister Lisa. Sophia explains Lisa failed to visit her to celebrate her birthday and the latter's boyfriend Richard Vega called her asking if she was with her; they believe that flighty Lisa was too happy to run away.

Braydon realizes the three females seem to share nothing in common except vanishing and that this case eerily reminds him of what happened over a decade ago. As the cops make inquiries, Braydon makes grilled cheese for two. However, Braydon fears for Sophia's safety and what will happen to the vanished trio if it not too late already.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two wonderful protagonists whose first meeting is awesome. Even as we know who the culprit is long before the cops do, the police procedural Manhunt grips subgenre fans from the moment the she-cat rips skin from the detective and never slows down until a terse confrontation.

Lisa Childs
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009411, $5.75

In Copper Creek, Michigan frightened Raven calls FBI agent Seth Hughes insisting she is in danger from Maria Cooper. Seth rushes to the town knowing that whenever Cooper reads someone's future they die very soon afterward. The Fed questions Maria, as the only suspect in a series of homicides.

To his astonishment as he arrived in Copper Creek believing she is the stone cold killer, Maria persuades him that she is not a serial killing witch hunter and in fact fears the psychopath targing her too; even as she poorly conceals her fear from the agent that he might be this maniac. Teaming up, Maria and Seth seek the deadly culprit while also starting to fall in love. At the same time her worried sisters (see Haunted, Damned and Persecuted), whom she fled from in order to keep them safe, search for her.

The first Witch Hunt tale in almost eight years will thrill fans of the siblings. The characters are top-rate especially the lead couple and the action never slows down until the final confrontation. Cursed is an enjoyable urban romantic fantasy.

Raintree: Oracle
Linda Windstead Jones
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009404, $5.75

After years of failing to control her always too late to help others visions, PTSD sufferer Echo Raintree the "Prophet" decides she needs help from an outside expert after her clan's attempts failed. Thus she leaves her North Carolina Mountain sanctuary for Cloughban, Ireland to plead with Ryder Duncan the wizard to train her on how to turn her curse into a gift.

Struggling to find the remote village that GPS fails to locate, Echo, after several wrong turns, arrives in Cloughban. She enters the Drunken Stone Pub where at first sight Rye knows the outsider will destroy his blissfully predictable life. He wants this Raintree to leave him and his eleven year old daughter Cassidy alone. After discouragement from the wizard, Echo leaves the pub only to encounter and receive encouragement from Cassidy. When Echo reenters the pub, she collapses into a visionary fit. As the "Stray" and the "Princess" work on her affliction and at the pub, other visitors monitor the pair while planning to use Cassidy's skills for their evil intent. In love with father and daughter, the Raintree Prophet risks her life to keep both safe.

After a several years hiatus, the return to the Raintree clan (see Inferno by Linda Howard, Sanctuary by Beverly Barton and Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones) is a charming romantic urban fantasy set in a terrific Brigadoon-like locale (though Ireland instead of Scotland). What makes the tale engage the audience is the fully-developed cast consisting of the magical lead trio, the eccentric villagers, malevolent meanies, and in very small roles her concerned clan.

Killshadow Road
Paula Graves
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698257, $5.50

Gates operative Nick Darcy has been placed on administrative leave while an inquiry occurs into whether he leaked info that placed another agent in peril. Wounded and being hunted by the Blue Ridge Infantry and the Feds, FBI undercover agent McKenna Rigsby seeks help from a trusted old fling Nick.

She explains to her host that either her Knoxville field office boss Darryl Boyle or her partner Cade Landry betrayed her to the militia group she had infiltrated. As she heals from her wounds and his boss gives him tacit approval to guard her, Nick and McKenna realize they have been in love with each other for eight years; but first must deal with who inside the FBI wants her dead and why; as well as the militia.

The fifth Gates romantic suspense (see Deception Lake, Boneyard Ridge, Crybaby Falls and Dead Man Curve) is an entertaining contemporary. The lead operatives contain polar opposite attitudes; he is rigidly a SOP-hound always by the book and she ignores rules preferring freelancing. The protagonists' growing relationship makes for an engaging entry but also leaves the action much more diminished than usual.

Good With His Hands
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798452, $5.50

Months before their wedding, while in Helsinki on business for several months Tate Malcolm meets Ella. He ends his engagement to Atlanta realtor Danica Yates and elopes with Ella. Tate leaves his former fiancee with a not used wedding dress, no honeymoon on Maui and a need to escape the annoying platitudes and well wishes from friends and family. Besides wishing Tate early baldness, Danica decides to follow her previously barely controlled desires for a fling with Hot Architect.

Danica makes a move on Hot Architect. Sean "Gray" Grayson is ecstatic as he wants the Hot Realtor. However, he soon realizes her heated passions are not for him, but aimed at his twin Bryce. Though he knows he owes her the truth, he fears she will hop out of his wrong bed for his brother's apparent right bed.

The latest Wrong Bed torrid romance (see Cabin Fever by Jillian Burns) is an amusing, lighthearted Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare) contemporary. The protagonists are an appealing pairing caused by mistaken identity, while her BFF and his twin enrich the plot.

Deep Focus
Erin McCarthy
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798469, $5.50

At O'Hare, with an opportunity for a shoot at the airport, photographer Ian Bainbridge places his upset girlfriend public relations rep Melanie Ambrose on the plane to Cancun with a promise he will catch a later flight and join her. He also assigns bodyguard Hunter Ryan to accompany Melanie on her vacation flight and on Cancun.

Awaiting Melanie in Cancun is a Dear Jane letter from Ian. She fumes that he not only dumped her long distance, but lacked the guts to tell her to her face. Melanie also realizes that her room contains one bed that she planned to use for multiple orgasms with Ian; and Hunter the hunk has no room with none available. Thus Melly invites him into her bed.

The latest From Every Angle heated contemporary (see Close Up and Double Exposure) is a pleasant rebound romance headed (pun intended) by leads who adapt too easily to their situation. Still this is an entertaining blithe affair until love threatens to nuke the carefree relationship.

A Decent Proposal
Teresa Southwick
Harlequin Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373658787, $5.50

Sydney McKnight and her married bothers (Alex and Ben) learn their widow dad Tom has been seeing Mayor Loretta Goodson for several months. However, though the owner of McKnight Automotive wants to take his relationship to the next level, Tom hesitates because he worries about his single daughter having no one.

Once burned Sydney had been involved in a long relationship When resort-developer Burke Holden arrives at the auto shop, Sydney introduces term relationship with Charlie that she thought was forever, but instead he married her bestie Violhim to her dad as her boyfriend. Amused Burke plays along with the beautiful woman though with reservations; as the single dad whose son Liam, already emotionally scarred by a mother who does not care about him, comes first.

The third Bachelors of Blackwater Lake romance (see One Night With The Boss and Finding Family ... And Forever?) is a humorous warm Big Sky Country family drama. Character-driven by obviously the leads but fully supported by family and friends, this is an endearing straightforward contemporary.

A Real Cowboy
Carla Cassidy
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279098, $5.50

Divorcee Nicolette Kendall, accompanied by her six year old son Sammy, leaves New York for Bitterroot, Oklahoma to stay on the ranch her best friend Cassandra Peterson recently inherited from Cass Holiday who died when a tornado touched ground. Holiday Ranch cowboy Lucas Taylor sees the New Yorker for the first time; and to his astonishment he immediately is attracted to Nicolette and likes the positive energy of her child.

However, someone wearing a ski mask and using a ladder looks into Sammy's second floor room. To insure Sammy's safety, Lucas sleep in the other bunk in the lad's bedroom. As he and Nicolette become better acquainted, they fall in love, but someone has other plans for the mother and her son.

The first Cowboys of Holiday Ranch is an engaging romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists and a deep bench who protect the three newcomers like a horde of momma and poppa grizzlies with their cubs. The relationship between Lucas and Sammy allows the audience to appreciate further the caring cowboy while also marveling over the honesty that comes out of the mouth of babes. Although readers will guess the identity of the stalker early on, A Real Cowboy is a fine opening act.

One Perfect Year
Melinda Curtis
Harlequin Heartwarming
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373367153, $6.50

Almost two years have passed since Shelby Hawkley's husband Nick and her Grandma Ruby died within a week of each other. Still grieving, she lives with her retired veterinarian Grandpa in Harmony Valley, California along with Ruby's dog Mushu and Siamese Gaipan. Making matters harder on Shelby is that her former BFF "Dead" Gage Jamero stopped communicating with her from the moment she buried her husband.

A vet who works with racehorses, Gage plans on moving to Kentucky. However before he leaves California, Shelby's grandfather Dr. Wentworth offers him a chance to buy into his practice in Harmony Valley. Reluctantly Gage agrees only temporarily to help his mentor until he leaves for Lexington. As Gage and Shelby awkwardly meet for the first time since the funeral, he knows he owes her the truth behind his incommunicado. Yet he cannot bring himself to tell her how much he has loved her since science class together; while knowing she never reciprocated his feelings beyond being best buddies and besides Gage abandoned Shelby when she needed his shoulder.

The latest Harmony Valley romance (see Season of Change) is a wonderful second chance contemporary. The relationship between the protagonists is interesting while the stories from Grandpa and his peers add flavoring to a warm tale of a secret love.

Royal Heirs Required
Cat Schield
Harlequin Desire
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373733729, $5.25

Heir to the throne of Sherdana, Gabriel Alessandro knows whomever he weds must meet the principality's highest criteria expected of a royal First Lady. He knows his best choice is scandal-free Lady Olivia Darcy, but her prim and proper demeanor reminds him of his four year heated affair with passionate Marissa Somme and what he must sacrifice.

An attorney arrives at the palace to inform Gabriel that Marissa recently died from cancer and he has almost two year old twin girls (Karina and Bethany) that his late lover never bothered to tell him existed. At the same time, his fiancee knows she must undergo surgery if she is to give him an heir. Olivia meets the runaway sisters; fires their nanny; and takes them into her room to eat ice cream and sleep. Gabriel arrives to take his first look at the toddlers and realizes they are his; as they look like his sister when she was an infant. He also marvels at how caring his future wife is towards someone else's children. As Gabriel and Olivia fall in love, he must convince her that she is his only one instead of as she believes the late mother of his kids.

The first (of triplets) Billionaires and Babies: The Sherdana Royals is an enjoyable contemporary romance due to a fully-developed cast. Character driven by the lead couple and skillfully supported by the twins, their families and others; Royal Heirs Required is an outstanding opening act.

Dead No More
L.R. Nicolello
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779543, $7.99

One year ago, U.S. Intelligence Unit 67 (engaged to marry) covert agents Lily Andrews and Jackson worked a case in New York City. Just when they had the suspect trapped, Jackson fired a shot at Lily. She survived his assault but while she spent five days unconscious in a hospital, he escaped with the case that he sold to a client. When her superiors protected the agency and their asses by concealing Jackson's treason, Lily quit to go after her ex.

After surreptitiously observing Lily for months, Agent Derek Moretti carefully approaches her to enlist her help with ending an illegal arms dealer selling state of the art weapons to eager terrorists. Lily jumps at the opportunity as she misses field work. As they work in close proximity having each other's back, Lily and Derek fall in love, but she distrusts that undesirable emotion having been burned once. However, Lily finds she must choose between her bone marrow deep need for revenge, and with Derek preventing the nuclear genie from being released from the bottle.

The second Dead Don't romantic suspense is an exhilarating action-packed espionage thriller starring a courageous angry heroine. Kick-butt Lily seems similar to the kick-butt detective star of the previous entry Dead Don't Lie; as both intensely seek revenge and their male counterparts serve as their beloved sidekicks, but the Black Ops scenario vs. Seattle policing brings freshness to this enjoyable novel.

The Renegade Billionaire
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Romance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373743285, $5.99

The stress of the past year failing to sell a new product line to his family-run Konstantinos Marble Corporation has left Stavros Konstantinos feeling extremely depressed. The entire board except his brother said no to his concept that they leave 1950 behind to join the twenty-first century before it is too late. Thus feeling ill from his latest rejection, Stavros resigns from the firm before fleeing the mainland to his villa on Thassos Island to regroup just before he and his partners Theo and Zander begin production. Adding to his misery is a former girlfriend Christina Nasso refuses to accept it is over.

When a teenage student Darren on the PanHellenic Tours he and his family sponsors disappears, Stavros joins the search while wondering how incompetent a teacher could be to lose any of the six students under his or her watch. Though not the teacher involved and knowing Darren alone is responsible for his vanishing, tour guide planner Andrea Linford feels guilty anyway. She teams up with Stavros searching along with others for the missing boy. As they fall in love, each wonders whether their relationship will survive the end of the mission and her loyalty to her loving father.

The Renegade Billionaire opens with an exciting start involving depression and a runaway, but decelerates half way into the storyline before regaining speed to the finish. Our two guides take the armchair audience on a vibrant tour of Mount Ypsarion, the Aegean and the rest of the Greek Isle. Contemporary fans will root for the stay in Greece patriot and the globetrotting Colorado native to make it.

The Comeback Of Roy Walker
Stephanie Doyle
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373609000, $6.75

Five years ago, pitcher Roy Walker throws a retirement party as he planned to quit playing MLB while still on top. Roy loves Lane but the daughter of HOF Duff Baker has been married for four years to Danny Worth. At his gala Roy catches "Worthless" with another woman. He informs Lane of her husband's infidelity, but besides ending it with Worthless, she ends her friendship with Roy too.

Five years later, a financially broke Roy mounts a comeback at thirty-seven years old though well aware of the unlikelihood of success at his age and idleness. To have any hope of achieving his goal, Roy turns to physical therapist Lane Baker to get him back into major league baseball shape. Though he knows his beloved detests him over his tattling and he would be wiser to hire someone else to avoid the likely broken heart; Roy employs Lane to get him in shape while also praying they can make it.

This second chance baseball romance is a pleasant contemporary due to the complex stars and their convoluted relationship. Faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball, the first of the Bakers of Baseball tale is a winner.

The Baby Bonanza
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373755608, $5.50

Just before her divorce, Safe Harbor Medical Center ultrasound technician Zora Raditch had a final fling with her then soon to be ex. Seven months later Zora is single but not carefree as she carries her now married former husband's twins.

Zora and housemate Lucky Mendez agree that their live-in landlady Karen Wiggins should not allow creepy Laird Maclaine to move in with them and Rod Vinter, but there are no other prospects. At a time when Lucky doubts his future is at Safe Harbor, he poorly conceals his attraction to Zora; she acts the same way towards him. However, soon both want more, but each fears to take a chance; while a third party encourages them that they belong together.

The latest Safe Harbor medical romance (see The Surprise Triplets) is a fine contemporary starring a duet singing I'm Not In Love (10 Cc). Although the storyline goes exactly as expected, series fans will adore Zora and appreciate Lucky for always being there for his pregnant housemate as if the babies are his.

A Harvest Of Hope
Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764211058, $14.99,

In 1905, Blessing Hospital nurse trainee Miriam Hastings goes on a leave of absence to return home to Chicago where her widow mom is dying. After her mom's death, her mentor allows Miriam to finish her training in Chicago so that she can take care of her grieving younger siblings, but also insists her pupil come back to Blessing, North Dakota to complete her one-year contractual obligation very soon.

In Blessing, Trygve Knutson misses his beloved Miriam and prays for her safe return. He begins construction of a house that he plans to live in with Miriam when he marries her. However when Miriam finally arrives in Blessing, Trygve knows something is different beyond her mourning her loss. Underestimating the love that Trygve and the Lord have for her, Miriam refuses to tell her suitor why she will not marry him or pray for guidance. As he struggles to learn her motive, Miriam accepts her heart must be broken and that God abandoned the Hastings family. Accepting her responsibility to take care of her brothers and sisters; Miriam feels burdening Trygve would be unfair to him. Desperate but still hopeful, Trygve prays to God for a Christmas Miracle.

The second Song of Blessing (see To Everything A Season) is an engaging inspirational historical romance. The leads are a delightful pairing, but it is the support cast in Blessing and Chicago who turn this into a terrific early twentieth century tale.

Spy Of Richmond
Jocelyn Green
River North
c/o Moody Publishers
820 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60610
9780802405791, $14.99,

In 1859 near Savannah, her slaveholding daddy explains to his daughter Sophie Kent that slaves massacred their family in Virginia and demands a family pledge of loyalty from her, which she reluctantly gives. He goes off to fight for the Confederacy. By 1863, he is a POW locked away in Fort Delaware, Pennsylvania and unbeknownst to him his wife died. Sophia resides in Richmond where, in spite of her father's loyalty to the Southern cause, she is under suspicion of Northern sympathy due to her maternal Pennsylvania roots and her schooling in Philadelphia.

With her husband incarcerated in Richmond former slave Bella Jamison arrives in the Confederacy capital. Meanwhile to her chagrin, Sophia owns Bella's sister Daphne. Risking their lives, the three females forge an espionage ring to do what they can to support the North. Reporter Harrison Caldwell supports them from his position inside the War Department, but soon becomes drafted to defend Richmond.

The Fourth Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War drama (see Yankee in Atlanta, Wedded to War and Widow of Gettysburg) is a tremendous historical that focuses on the impact of war on everyone, but especially the forgotten social class of POWs, slaves and PTSD sufferers. The heroines are fully developed even while they bravely risk their lives to do what they think is right. Filled with espionage action yet ethical issues abound throughout; for instance Sophia turns to Scripture for mental sustenance while wondering if God would accept her logic that a good end justifies a deceptive mean.

Contract City
Mark Falkin
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610881449, $22.95,

By 2021, allegedly to reduce costs, Tulsa contracts out all governmental work to a private firm Free Force Tulsa (FFT). Those services inside the "Zone" not providing enough of a profit to FFT including schools for the impoverished and hospitals caring for the indigent are shut; forcing for instance the ER outside the Zone to provide combat-like emergency care. Patrolling the Zone are armored vehicles, which makes the city look more like a military occupation.

T. Boone Pickens High School student Sara Paige Christie hopes that the UCLA film school accepts her as a student, but needs an edge against the fierce competition for admissions. Using a school camera she borrowed, the wannabe filmmaker documents her privatized city with a focus on graffiti like "the fucking terrorists fucking won" and other entities signed by "WH2RR??" that have popped up in City Hall, the politically connected Chosen Hill megachurch she and her parents attend, and other civil and private locales. While the FFT police target Sara and her family, she continues to learn more about WH2RR??; while also fearing that she and her beloved parents could be locked away in a privatized cell.

Contract City is a thought-provoking corporatocracy thriller that extrapolates current trends to privatize government functions; for instance firefighting only occurs in neighborhoods where residents can pay the surcharge.. The insightful storyline depicts what happens to services when bottom line efficiency based on a flexible performance work statement supersedes bureaucratic effectiveness efforts to accomplice the mission IAW rigid laws. Though Sara's escapes seem unlikely even with insider protection, she and the graffiti artist propel this action-packed tale that will have readers reconsider whether contracting out is the right thing for every governmental task.

The Pharaoh's Daughter
Mesu Andrews
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601425997, $9.99

Daughters and sisters of Pharaohs, Anippe and Ankhe are different in outlook as the former is much sweeter than the acrimonious latter. Anippe knows her personality was shaped when as a small child she witnessed her mother die giving birth, which taught her how fragile life can be as Anubis can take anyone without warning. The siblings are horrified when General Horemheb announces that their ten years old brother King Tut will marry his twenty-something half-sister Senpa and be separated from them.

With no say in the matter Anippe becomes the chosen bride of Captain Sebek. Afraid that Anubis and the other Gods will snatch her in the birthing room, Anippe works on a ruse to fool her husband. Taking advantage of Pharaoh's orders to drown the Hebrew slaves' first male born, Anippe abetted by the midwives rescues Moses as the baby floats in a handbasket on the Nile. She renames him Mehy and with help from her sister and the slaves including her infant's biological older sibling Miriam, raises him as her son.

This Treasures of the Nile biblical thriller fills the gap between when The Pharaoh's Daughter adopts Moses and God orders Moses to free his people. Ironically the storyline is timely with the recent reelection in Israel in which PM Netanyahu reversed the fear of the ancient Egyptians re the Hebrew slaves when he stated "Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations." Though the danger and opulence of royal life create a rich background; the cast makes this storyline seem real; starting with the title character who loves her adopted son she raises as Egyptian royalty, but also fears what the Gods might turn him into.

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid
Suzanne Enoch
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250041623, $7.99,

Eighteen year old Rowena MacLawry proclaims her infatuation with clan chieftain Viscount Lachlan MacTier is over. No longer will she try to get the oaf to notice her as a mate rather than a younger sister; as she has one warden already, her brother Ranulf (see The Devil Wears Kilts). Thus she goes to London for the Season where she takes immense pleasure in the men wanting her as their woman instead of a pesky sibling.

When Rowena returns to the Highlands with numerous suitors desiring her, Lachlan realizes he is one of them but fears he is too late. Ranulf hosts a tournament to assist his sibling in selecting a husband; Lachlan plans to win it and her. However, when someone abducts Rowena, an anxious Lachlan vows to rescue and marry his beloved.

The third Scandalous Highlanders historical romance (see Rogue With A Brogue) continues the adventures in love of the MacLawry brood with a likable female family member as the lead. The Highlands' economic crisis during the late Regency provides depth to an enjoyable, at times humorous, but always straightforward tale.

Darker Than Desire
Shiloh Walker
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250032423, $7.99

Two decades ago David Sutter fled abuse in Madison, Indiana to hide amidst the welcoming Amish as Caine Yoder, taken in by Abraham who recently died. Though he feels unworthy of love, Caine is attracted to Sybil Chalmers. Even as she has own issues such as raising her sister's nephew, Sybil has loved David ever since they first met ten years ago.

Motivated by a mission to shut down his late father's Cronus Club permanently and feeling no longer needing to hide, David tells Sarah he is going home where half the town considers him a freak and the rest classify him a monster. In Madison, David visits old Max to learn the truth from the man who helped him flee twenty years ago and cleaned up the mess the then teen left behind. As he finds out more about his vile heritage, someone kills Max. Grieving for the old man, he misses and worries about his beloved Sybil and her ward. Still David adamantly refuses to act on his feelings knowing she deserves better than an emotional cripple like him.

The latest Secrets & Shadows novel (see Sweeter Than Sin and Deeper than Need) is the best entry so far (including three e-books) due to a profound firsthand look at the long term effect of paternal depravity on a teen victim. As before, this is not an easy read due to the subject matter though even more heart-wrenching than previous works. Even as the killer's identity seems over the top of historic St. Michael the Archangel Church, Shiloh Walker authors a compelling romantic suspense that leaves readers once again to root for an HEA between two PTSD sufferers.

Start Me Up
Nicole Michaels
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250058157, $7.99

When his frantic sister Erin calls asking for her latest favor, auto mechanic Mike Everett knows he never says no. He ends his efforts to pick up the blond at the dive near his shop to drive his six years old niece Bailey to her friend Claire's birthday party. His plan is to flee ASAP.

However, when he meets the guest of honor's single mom Anne Edmond, he revives his scheme to escape. Though he finds Anne's lifestyle of motherhood and crafts foreign, Mike wants her. He even becomes a fan of her "My Perfect Little Life" blog though she hides from her suitor how successful her business has become; because that drove away her husband.

Although falling in uncontrollable heat at first sight seems unlikely even for a womanizer who leads with his lower head; the first blogger romance is a delightful contemporary due to the protagonists' struggle with their growing intensity relationship that frightens yet astonishes them. The solid secondary characters enhance the tender humorous plot as love blindsides the mechanic and the mom.

Heartbreak Cove
Lily Everett
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250018380, $7.99

On the Virginia barrier isle Sanctuary Island, strictly by the book Sheriff Andie Shepherd and break the rules Sam Brennan are attracted to each other, but she distrusts him; while he wants her but keeps his distance. Both knows a tryst would prove harmful as an affair would place her reelection bid in jeopardy and interfere with his calling.

Andie answers a wild horse call; only to find Sam calmly settling down the skittish animal. He explains to the sheriff that he rescues and rehabilitates abused horses. When her niece Caitlin arrives at her home, Andie welcomes her into her house though she never knew of the tweener's existence. Struggling with her parenting skills, Andie realizes Caitlin's love of wild horses makes her welcome by Sam. As Andie revises her opinion of Sam from being a miscreant to a good neighbor, they fall in love.

The third Sanctuary Island romance (see Shoreline Drive) is an overall fine drama. The two wild horse lovers' connection is very tender, but Andie's abrupt ethics turn-around from a lifetime of rigid black and white adherence of the law to sometimes you do" the wrong thing for the right reason" seems unlikely and detracts from an otherwise warm contemporary.

The Danger Of Destiny
Leigh Evans
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250035110, $7.99

Hedi Peacock and her mate Robson Trowbridge go through the portal to Merenwyn on dangerous quests. The former thief hopes to save her twin Lexi from the Mage who owns his soul; while the Alpha wolf plans to have Hedi's back but also attempt to liberate the Raha'ells Weres from bondage.

Each understood going in that they probably will not get out alive let alone achieve the objectives. However, Hedi and Robson quickly conclude they underestimated badly the chance of success as "Strangers in a Strange Land" (Heinlein) prove much more dangerous than either expected. The only hope to rescue her brother and the Raha'ells while also getting out alive resides within Hedi who completely must accept her hybrid duality as a wolf and fae.

The final Mystwalker fantasy (see The Problem With Promises and The Thing About Weres) is a marvelous finish to a delightful coming of age saga as Leigh Evans deftly ties up the major threads by having her reluctant heroine and her sidekick cross over to the other side. Told mostly from Hedi's perspective, series fans will agree she considerably matured from when she first fell into the were-fae "rabbit-hole" (see The Trouble With Fate).

The Edge Of Dreams
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250052025, $25.99,

In 1905, NYPD Police Captain Daniel Sullivan battled crime in the city while his wife "retired" private detective Molly raised their infant son Liam until an explosion blew up their house injuring the couple and killing their servant Aggie but not harming the baby. Molly and Liam traveled to France to stay safely with her Freud disciple friends Elena "Sid" Goldfarb and Augusta "Gus" Walcott while Daniel worked his Costa Nostra investigation and rebuilt their home (see City of Darkness and Light).

Sullivan's traveling family returns from France to move into their new home. At the same time Daniel struggles with a serial killer case in which the culprit taunts him. When Molly becomes injured in an el accident that left others dead, Daniel concludes his nemesis targeted his wife and son. Molly assists her spouse with ending this psychopath's reign of terror; while also helping Sid and Gus with deeply disturbed Mabel Hamilton who may have murdered her parents.

The keys to the fourteenth marvelous Molly Murphy historical mystery (see The Family Way and Hush Now, Don't You Cry) are the heroine's investigating seems reasonable and in hindsight all the clues are provided within the excellent storyline though solving the case proves difficult. Feeling transported to the first decade of twentieth century Manhattan, readers will appreciate unsinkable Molly as she heals from her latest injuries, raises her son with help from her mother-in-law and works the two cases.

What The Fly Saw
Frankie Y. Bailey
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250048301, $25.99,

In 2020 Albany, New York, as a snow storm rocks the city an unknown archer shoots an arrow that kills funeral director Kevin Novak in the funeral parlor he runs. Leading the murder investigation, APD Detectives Hannah McCabe and Mike Baxter learn from Kevin's family that he grieved the death of his BFF and feared Luanne Woodward the psychic though they do not know why. The minister, a shrink and congregation of the church the deceased attended avoid directly answering the detectives' questions. Still the two cops fail to find even one slightly possible suspect with a viable motive as the innocuous victim seems to have had no enemies nor caused the tiniest confrontational ripple.

More deaths follow, complicating the case. Meanwhile Medium Olive Cooper hosts a seance attended by McCabe, Baxter and Novak's family and friends. Not long after a stunned McCabe realizes a new death ties the Novak homicide to another murder inquiry she is struggling to solve (see The Red Queen Dies).

The second Detective Hannah McCabe near future and alternate Albany police procedural is an engaging whodunit though the background seems more like 2015 in the New York State capital than a few years from now in a similar but parallel word. Still the exhilarating murder mystery entertains fans as the marvelous protagonist struggles with this case, her previous case and her family; not in that order.

John The Pupil
David Flusfeder
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062339188, $24.99,

In 1267 in a Franciscan Monastery near Oxford, Friar Roger Bacon assigns his most trustworthy student young John on a pilgrimage; accompanied by two Franciscan Brothers Bernard and Andrew. While the two novices are unaware of the true nature of the task, John's actual mission is to deliver his Master's Opus Majus and several scientific inventions to Pope Clement IV in Viterbo, Italy.

Keeping a chronicle of their trek, John the Pupil and his companions hike to the first leg of the journey Canterbury; there the travelers encounter Simeon the Palmer, a scoundrel thief. Sailing the Channel into France, the trio reaches Paris, Reims and other stops in the kingdom. Crossing into Italy they take a respite at Cavalcanti's palace in Bellosguardo where sirens tempt them. By the time they reach their final destination, John has experienced the holy devout, the pragmatic common and the downfallen sinful.

John The Pupil is an intriguing historical fiction that ironically mocks and challenges the subgenre to raise the accuracy. The storyline is filled with real persona (the footnotes are worth reading to learn more about the cast) and a profound timely look at the relationship between science and religion just prior to the former (and Bacon) becoming heresy. The protagonist's chronicles of the pilgrimage contains plenty of action and is loaded with insight into the legends of the Saints; as John tries to emulate his hero Saint Francis. Subgenre readers will appreciate this extremely complex but rewarding medieval coming of age fable.

The Bookseller
Cynthia Swanson
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062333001, $25.99,

In 1963 Denver, Lars Andersson wakes up his wife Katharyn because one of their three children Missy feels ill and wants her mother. Muddled Katharyn insists her name is Kitty Miller and has no idea who Lars, Missy or their two sons (Mitch and Michael) are. Checking on Missy anyway, Kitty easily slips into the mommy role as if she has years of maternal experience. Looking into a mirror, Kitty sees Kitty stare back at her yet has vivid memories that belong to Katharyn and not her.

In 1962 Denver, Kitty wonders about this Katharyn whom "lives" a radically different lifestyle than she does. Whereas Kitty is single with no children and co-owns a bookstore with her BFF Frieda, Katharyn has a spouse with three offspring. Analyzing what she knows, Kitty concludes she made up Katharyn to better understand what her life would have been with a family to share it and pinpoints the pivotal moment when she failed to become a spouse. However, Kitty also fears that she has everything mixed up and that Katharyn is the real persona imagining life as single Kitty.

The Bookseller is a captivating twisting historical starring a wonderfully confused Katharyn-Kitty whose absorbing storyline focuses on "The Road Not Taken" (Robert Frost). Although the support cast comes across as one-dimensional with the only purpose being how they connect and enhance the heroine(s), this is an interesting drama.

Some Other Town
Elizabeth Collison
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062348821, $14.99

With no ambition whatsoever and even less hope for the future, twenty-eight years old Margaret Lydia Benning went off to college. Five years after graduating she remains in town residing on Mott St. next door to eccentric fortune-telling lunatic Mrs. Eberline. Margaret works as a low-wage nonentity at the university's children educational publishing house located in what was once a sanatorium at the edge of town. Besides arrogant editors, she shares her work space with a sanitarium screamer spirit.

The university hires Art Professor Ben Adams as a visiting lecturer. When he and Margaret meet they connect and quickly become lovers. Margaret's bland survival existence turns euphoric as she sees a wonderful future with her Ben. Without telling Margaret, Ben disappears for no apparent reason. Fearing for him almost as much as her trepidation of returning back to her haunting dreams and previous drab survival; Margaret searches for her missing lover.

This is an extremely complex and rightfully convoluted character-driven drama that, through a variety of fascinating first person perspectives (particularly two voices capture the reader), tells the tale of a young woman barely existing until love shows her how to enjoy life or perhaps not. Not an easy read as the audience must fully concentrate or miss key elements but definitely worth the time, Some Other Town is a profound twister.

A Ghostly Undertaking
Tonya Kappes
Harper Collins/Witness
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062374646, $7.99

In Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, Emma Lee is used to dead people lying around being the director of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home. However, seeing and hearing ghosts are a relatively new phenomenon that started a few months ago after Emma Lee suffered a head injury. At the funeral of busybody Ruthie Sue Payne, the guest of honor demands the Light Seeker Emma Lee find the person who murdered her. Already considered eccentric by her neighbors especially since her trauma, Emma Lee wishes the pain in the butt when she lived and still so in the afterlife would just go away.

Emma Lee concludes that for her to rid herself of her constant nudnik companion, she must investigate Ruthie Sue's death. Also making inquiries is Sheriff Jack Ross who is attracted to Emma Lee. They team up investigating who killed Ruthie Sue.

The first Ghostly Southern Mystery is a lively paranormal whodunit starring a harassed heroine, a law enforcement official wanting to solve the case almost as much as he wants to date the funeral director, and a mean-spirited apparition. Tonya Kappes authors an amusing supernatural investigation though Emma Lee's deduction "skills" seem over the top of the Great Smoky Mountains and the audience will solve the case much earlier than the affable living leads.

Graeme Cameron
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318507, $24.95,

He methodically prepares for teenager Sarah. When he decides the time is right, he enters the eighteen-year-old chosen one's house and murders her. Once his deed is done, the killer thoroughly cleans the home to insure he left behind no evidence that he committed the lethal home invasion. Everything went perfect until he goes to his van to leave the scene; his keys are locked inside.

Sarah's executioner soon bumps into his victim's friend Erica; whom he captures and incarcerates in his secret basement under the garage. As he improves his skills with his mantra practice makes perfect, the serial killer has his first major setback when he goes to buy food for his latest and meets Rachel the grocery store clerk. Stunned the predator knows he loves Rachel, but struggles with making the triangle work leading to errors that could end his career.

This is a dark jocular serial killer contemporary romance that amusingly satires both subgenres. Obviously not for everyone, those who embrace the premise of a psychopath suffering from the "Normal" emotion of love will want to read Graeme Cameron's black romantic comedy.

The Virgin
Tiffany Reisz
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317975, $14.95

On the eve of their wedding in Scotland, dominatrix Nora Sutherlin the novelist and Father Søren, joined by Kingsley, chat about the year that changed everything. During that pivotal period in their lives, twentyish Elle (Nora's nee name) and Kingsley left New York; each fleeing from their heartless master Søren.

Elle stayed with her mom at the latter's convent in Upstate New York where she soon enjoyed a sexual relationship as the dom with a sub virgin nun Kyrie that led to the emergence of the author and dominatrix. Kingsley went to Haiti where he liberated Juliette from the French ambassador and fell in love with her.

The third Original Sinners: The White Years (see The Saint and The King) is a must read for series fans (see The Red Years) as The Virgin fills in the backstory of what happened during that critical year of change. The delightful Kingsley-Juliet subplot adds complexity to both characters especially the female; while the Elle-Kyrie segue lacks that same level of intensity perhaps because the much more mesmerizing mother-daughter relationship overwhelms it.

The Dead Play On
Heather Graham
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317739, $24.95

After three tours in Afghanistan, saxophonist Arnie Watson returned to New Orleans as a civilian only to die of a drug overdose. His grieving mom gave her son's sax to his best friend musician Tyler Anderson. Using the sax at a gig, Tyler has visions of Arnie's fatal last night that leads him to believe his buddy was murdered. Tyler retains Danni Cafferty to investigate Arnie's death.

NOPD Detective Jake Larue leads the investigation into the recent deaths of musicians that strongly imply a serial killer culprit. He asks former cop turned private investigator Michael Quinn to help with the official inquiry. Partners Danni and Michael compare notes as each believes possession of Arnie's sax is the motive for the murders.

The third Cafferty & Quinn urban fantasy (see Waking The Dead and Let The Dead Sleep) is an interesting paranormal whodunit anchored by a haunting atmospheric New Orleans. The mystery entertains the audience though the paranormal is somewhat downplayed compared to the usual novel by the queen of supernatural investigations Heather Graham. Readers cheer on the brave protagonists especially when they join the band as bait making for a taut exciting tale

Shadow Study
Maria V. Snyder
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317401, $14.95

A shaky cold peace has held up for the most part for several years between non-magical Ixia and magical Sitia. Both adversarial sides know how quickly an incident could ignite the fire of war. Lovers Soulfinder Yelena the Sitian and Valek the Ixian assassin do what they can to keep the hostilities from turning into combat.

An unknown assassin shoots Yelena with a poison arrow. At the same time Valek is recalled back to Ixia to deal with a growing smuggling operation. Although Yelena struggles with the toxin threatening her magical skills and perhaps her life, and from enemies craving her death, she still goes it alone. Though they go back a long time since his days at the School Of Night And Shadow, Valek feels his leader the Ixian Commander no longer trusts him and may be duplicitous in the attack on his beloved.

Rotating three interrelated subplots (Yelena, Valek, and twins Janco and Ari) the first Poison Study fantasy (see Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study) in seven years is a gripping twisting novel filled with danger from adversaries and seemingly allies. Each segue is well-written, but for saga fans the Valek entry is the best as we learn of his days as a student. The return is a tremendous tale as our separated heroes revert back to their personal comfort zones of their roots.

Return to the Adelaide Hills
Fiona McCallum
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318491, $7.99

In Australia Claire McIntyre's life seems perfect as her husband Keith adores her and she him, and she has a successful career at Rockford and Associates as Client Relationship Manager to AHG Recruitment. Everything changes when two constables arrive at her home to inform her that Keith died in a car accident. Soon after that tragedy her father Jack is hit in the head by a horse and suffers a stroke. Finally she loses her job.

Leaving the big city behind, a grieving Claire returns to her family ranch in Adelaide Hills to take care of her dad. While she helps Jack with his recovery; Claire also heals due to her love for horses bringing her serenity. Specifically she believes untrainable Paycheque has the innate ability to become a racing champion though she also has an offer to go corporate again.

This reprint of the 2011 Australian published Paycheque is an engaging second chance at life family drama with much of the fascination coming from a comparison between how shark-infested the corporate and horseracing worlds both are. Although the storyline goes as expected, Return to Adelaide Hills is a pleasant Australian contemporary.

One Wish
Robyn Carr
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317722, $8.99 (MM)
9780778317937, $24.95 (HC)

Following the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Izzy Banks left behind figure skating and her martinet mother Winnie to become Grace Dillon the florist in Thunder Point, Oregon. She still enjoys skating at Jake Galbreath's rink, but has no plans to go back on the circuit as either a performer or coach. Grace also is attracted to high school history teacher Troy Headly, but he treats her as a friend not interested in romance having just ended a long-term relationship.

However, Troy begins to realize he still wants Grace as a friend but also needs her as his lover. As they become a loving team, each judges what they have as a 10. That is until her mother arrives in Thunder Bay with new but needy demands of her daughter that shakes up Izzy and leaves confused Troy no longer confident in them as a duet.

The seventh Thunder Point Oregonian romance (see The Homecoming, The Promise and The Chance) is a moving entry starring a superb female and a bland but okay male. The return of previous leads adds depth to Grace's story as she fears the serpent entered her Eden.

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick
Stephanie Laurens
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317821, $7.99

In 1848, Lucilla Cynster knows that Thomas Carrick is her beloved one. Thomas feels the same way about Lucilla, but refuses to act on his heart's desire as he remains far away from her in Glasgow where he runs successful Carrick Enterprises and she resides at Casphairn Manor. Instead he hopes distance makes the heart forget since marrying Lucilla means the end of his business dreams and the beginning of clan Laird responsibilities.

When his uncle becomes ill, Thomas comes home to learn his clan is under assault. Unable to resist Lucilla and her confidence in him to do the right thing for his kin, Thomas begins dreaming of life fulfilled with his beloved and life empty without her; especially after someone tries to kill her.

The second Cynster's Next Generation Victorian (see By Winter's Light) is an appealing historical romantic suspense though the intrigue resolution is left apparently for the next book starring Lucilla's twin Marcus to resolve. Thomas brings refreshing reluctance with full awareness of his feelings to the mix; but also at times their relationship feels off-kilter with how the protagonists react to attempted murder. The Tempting of Thomas Carrick will please saga fans.

The Girls of Mischief Bay
Susan Mallery
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317746, $14.95 (trade)
9780778316022, $24.95 (HC)

Thirtyish Nicole Lord feels overwhelmed with running and owning an exercise studio that is her family's only source of income since her husband Eric quit his job; and his constantly forgetting their almost five years old son Tyler. It makes her feel like a single mom though he lives with them. Ignores his responsibilities to his wife and child, Eric prefers surfing and being a wannabe screenwriter.

Fortyish CFO Shannon Rigg loves her career and accomplishments, but also feels lonely as she never married since she refuses to settle. Shannon hopes her latest boyfriend Adam the divorcee proves to be her soul mate though she feels out of her element with his two preadolescent children who he shares other weekly custody with his ex.

Fiftyish Pam Eiland knows her husband of over thirty years John loves her, their adult kids are great and Lulu the dog adores her. Perhaps it's recently turning fifty, but Pam wants the return of gusto back into her too comfortable ennui marriage, but will soon pray for something else.

The first Mischief Bay, California family drama is a thoughtful look at relationships through the respective filters of three "Pilates" BFFs. Each of the lead women is fully-developed while the prime people (including one another) in their lives enhance understanding of what motivates them especially surviving tragedies and failures, and rejoicing triumphs.
Night Night, Sleep Tight

Hallie Ephron
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062117632, $26.99,

Screenwriters Arthur and Gloria Unger were considered among the elite in their profession; but by 1985 the divorced couple could only be involved in a where are they now script. Gloria moved into a desert Buddhist retreat near Twentynine Palms while Arthur kept their Beverly Hills home, but no longer can afford the place. Their crippled (from a car accident) adult daughter Deirdre drives up from San Diego to help her dad sell the house. Instead of her father's greeting; she, her brother Henry and his two Rottweilers find Arthur dead in his pool.

Over two decades earlier teenager Deirdre's BFF Joelen Nichol confessed to killing her actress mother Bunny's abusive boyfriend Tito Acevedo. As the paramedics and cops arrive, Joelen comes insisting she has an appointment with Arthur. Detective Martinez leads the investigation into the unaccompanied death; Deirdre also seeks the truth.

Hallie Ephron writes a gripping whodunit filled with viable twists especially an award winning final spin. As the audience obtains a taste of 1980s and older Hollywood through the key players, the subplots cleverly converge into one of the best mysteries of the year.

The Daughter
Jane Shemilt
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062320476, $14.99,

In 2009 Bristol, England, doctors Ted the neurosurgeon and Jenny the family medical practitioner raise their three teenage offspring (seventeen years old twins Ed and Theo, and fifteen years old Naomi) in an affluent happy household. To friends, neighbors and even Ted and Jenny, the five Malcolm's have the perfect family.

In her school's production of West Side Story, Naomi stars as Maria. Near the end of a successful run, one night after the curtain came down Naomi fails to come home. The police searched for the missing teen without any success as she seemed to just vanish in thin air. As the months pass with no news, the interrelationships between the Malcom family members implode. Looking back at the traumatic pivotal moment after a year passed makes Jenny feel guilty for ignoring the signs of help her daughter sent to her and her husband. This leads her to analyze what she knows about her other children and spouse from her Dorset cottage where she no longer resides with Ted, Ed and Theo.

The Daughter is a cautionary family drama that warns parents don't become complacent wearing comfortable blinders when it comes to truly seeing family members especially your children. Jenny is a memorable protagonist as she examines the signs she missed hidden behind a veneer of materialistic normalcy. Enigmatic Naomi purposely remains somewhat in the shadows adding further fall-out tension to her mother's already nuked existence. The remaining three exist only in relation to the matriarch or the missing daughter.

Angels At The Gate
T.K. Thorne
Cappuccino Books Publishing
Alter Postplatz 2, 6370 Stans NW, Switzerland
Jane Wesman Public Relations Inc.
9783906196022, $22.50,

In 1748 BCE, Zakiti the merchant raises his fifteen summers old daughter Akira as a boy. Akira loves the freedom a male has; which a female can only envy. After meeting two strangers (Mika and Raph) that the tribe believes are God's messengers, Akira finds she is attracted to one of them; an emotion that confuses her. Meanwhile her fretting father regrets he failed to ask his sister-in-law Sarai to raise his teenage daughter as a female instead of giving her a male's run of the caravan he leads; especially knowing what will happen to her if she is found out. Reluctantly he informs Akira she must claim her birthright as a woman. Stunned Akira prefers the independence of a boy; as she knows her freedom ends once she comes out of male garb. With Nami the dog protecting her, Akira begins a journey of self-discovery that leads her to tribal patriarch Abram's nephew Lot in Sodom.

Filled with a remarkable interwoven detailed look into the culture of Abram's tribe and life in a trade caravan, the second mysterious woman of the bible dramatization (see Noah's Wife) provides a fascinating look at who Lot's wife was before she turned into the Pillar of Salt. The key to this entertaining biblical novelization is T.K. Thorne provides a plausible background that explains why Lot's wife would disobey the angelic warning not to look back.

Varina Denman
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434708373, $14.99,

Thirteen years ago in Trapp, Texas, Daddy Hoby Turner deserted his wife Lynda and their seven year old daughter Ruthie. The townsfolk led by the church the family attended blame Ruthie's Momma for Daddy leaving them; as they accept she committed adultery with one of the elders without a second thought. The good Christian flock shuns Momma for breaking one of the Commandments and her guilt by association child. Over the years Ruthie placed a fierce shield around her heart and soul to distance the religious accusers from further hurting her; though the constant mistreatment of Momma from their Good Christian former friends bothers her.

Arriving from Fort Worth, Dodd Cunningham, accompanied by his high school senior brother Grady and their mother, arrives in Trapp as the new pastor. Distrusting Christians as two-faced phonies, Ruthie keeps her distance from the Cunningham family, especially Dodd. However, the new pastor and his sibling ignore her desires that they and their false God leave her alone; instead the Cunningham siblings begin to breach her barriers.

The first Mended Hearts Christian romance is a pleasant inspirational showcasing a bitter woman and a true-believer pastor reaching out to her; though he never quite understands until very late how the love of his life feels about being a pariah. Although elements seem over the top of Guadalupe Peak, subgenre fans will appreciate this tale of first comes love (of God and man) and then comes redemption.

Then Sings My Soul
Amy Sorrells
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434705457, $14.99,

In 1994, Nel Stewart flies from her home in Santa Fe for her mom Catherine's funeral in South Haven, Michigan. Though rationalizing that she thought her twelve year older frailer dad Jakob would die before her vibrant caretaker mom, Nel still feels guilt. Thus she vows to take care of her father, who recently broke his hip and as she learns firsthand suffers from dementia.

Jakob feels remorse and shame for his actions as a child decades ago residing in the Russian Empire village Chudniv and during his family's desperate fleeing to the west. Thus he wants his daughter to stay with him, but also wants her to go back to her artsy life in the southwest. With packages arriving from Europe, Nel learn bits of her paternal Ukrainian heritage and persuades her hesitant father to tell her about his past especially this Uncle Peter she never knew existed.

Then Sings My Soul is a fantastic novel that rotates between the late and early twentieth century. The 1994 subplot is a well-written family drama. Nevertheless; it is the earlier historical segue that mesmerizes the audience; as Jakob looks back to when he and his family fled across Europe praying God (no atheists in the foxholes) guided them safely to Rotterdam. He felt the Lord abandoned him, but now looking back over the years wonders whether the Lord accompanied him for his entire life.

A Horse For Kate
Miralee Ferrell
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781411141, $7.99,

Thirteen year old Kate prays to God for her dad to find a new job after losing his last one so they would not have to move away from her friends in Spokane and subsequently fail to make new ones. However, she is upset with God for failing to give the Ferris family a reprieve. She moves with her parents and her younger brother Peter to her late maternal Grandpa Cooper's farm in ODell, Oregon.

In Odell, Kate thinks the barn would be a great place to house her horse if she had one, but doubts her parents would buy her a steed as they lack the funds. Kate begins feeding carrots to an emaciated either runaway or abandoned horse. Classmate Tori Velasquez sees Kate with the horse and joins her; they quickly become best buddies. In spite of setbacks she refuses to give up her dream of A Horse for Kate.

The first Horses and Friends tale is a pleasing drama that tweeners will devour while rooting for the BFFs, and their parents treasure. The protagonist is a delightful young teenager struggling with change and unfulfilled desires that make her believe God and her parents no longer care about her; while at the same time this attitude makes her feel selfish. The insightful friendship between Kate and Tori enhances the plot as each learns life lessons.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Uhuru Revisited: Interviews With African Pro-Democracy Leaders
Ron Singer
Africa World Press
541 W. Ingham Ave, Ste B
Trenton NJ 08638
9781592219698, $34.95

Ron Singer's interest in sub-Saharan Africa began as a young Peace Corp teacher between 1964 and 1967. The rallying cry back then was "Uhuru!" - "Freedom!" - as Africans sought to eliminate apartheid and colonial rule. In the four decades since then, more than fifty African countries have established their own rule. By 2010, Ron Singer was retired, older and less idealistic, curious about Africa's quest for freedom. Is apartheid really a thing of the past? Is self-rule an improvement over colonial rule? Does the new Africa have skillful, powerful protagonists speaking out for citizens? In a series of interviews with courageous African activists from 2010 to 2011, Singer revisits the countries he loved as a youth. These interviews became a book rich with fascinating information about heroes and heroism, myths and realities, corruption and compassion, and the religious / ethnic allegiances and differences that are Africa today.

As Singer traveled around Africa interviewing activists, he discovered contrasts and similarities to his years as a Peace Corp volunteer. The people were still kindly, helpful, and happy to assist strangers. The activists he interviewed were knowledgeable, intelligent, and passionate about their goals of helping Africa and Africans. The complicated social and political problems that existed in the 1960s were the same, if not somewhat worse. Where apartheid had denied education to black Africans as a matter of policy, educational opportunities remain beyond reach today due to poverty and politics. Freedom of the press was non-existent under colonial rule and nearly impossible to achieve today in many areas, with journalists still being sued, imprisoned, tortured or exiled. The African economy is fragile and unstable. Human rights have improved in some countries, worsened in others. In some areas, colonial rule was replaced by military dictators who operate under corruption-fueled frameworks. Agricultural shortfalls require the costly importing of foods that could easily be raised in country. Each activist interviewed had a different focus on solving current problems and shared proposed solutions honestly.

In Uhuru Revisited, Singer strikes a fine balance between what was, what is today, and what is hoped for in Africa. Even readers who know nothing about Africa will find the activists and information here fascinating, touching and inspiring. This book is essential reading for any African Studies curriculum. Very well done and highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Basic Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences: Complete for Piano in All Keys
Margaret L. White. Author
Santorella Publications
P.O. Box 60, Danvers, MA 01923
9781890281267, $10.95, TS349,

Here is a very useful scale sampler book for pianists of all levels. Starting with some basic theory of the major and minor keys, chords and arpeggios, and cadences, plus the circle of fifths, perfect fourths and perfect fifths, the book continues to present scales, chords, inversions, arpeggios and cadences in all major and minor keys. These comprise over 50 pages of excellent piano exercises to familiarize the pianist with performing in all keys. A useful appendix explains diminished seventh chords and arpeggios and the chromatic scale, as well as providing a Chord Reference Guide and Glossary of Music Terms. Fingerings for right and left hands are written above and below the staff for all scales and exercises. The discussion of the minor keys on page 30 contains definitions and examples of the relative minor, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales for A minor. A title in the Basic Instructional Series, "Basic Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences" is an excellent exercise book and reference work for pianists at intermediate and higher levels, with adaptability for less experienced pianists.

Treasured Hymn Favorites
Tony Santorella
Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
9781585607310, $14.95,

Another piano title with accompanying CD from Santorella Publications that is highly recommended is the "Treasured Hymn Favorites for Tri-Chord Piano," an easy piano collection of twenty three favorite hymns for piano, with recorded performance by Dean Mora in instructional play-along CD. Some of the hymn titles include Abide With Me, The Holy City, Kum Bah Yah, Nearer, My God To Thee, Rock of Ages, Standin' In the Need of Prayer, Whispering Hope, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and more. This is an excellent collection for emerging pianists, adult or children.

A Practical Approach to Harmony of Jazz and Related Forms of Music for Piano
Robert E. van der Linden, author
Garant Publishers (original publisher, in Dutch)
Somersstraat 13-15, 2018 Antwerp, Belgium
c/o ISBS (International Specialized Book Services)
920 NE 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, Oregon 97213
9789044132601, $46.00,,

Written for experienced or knowledgeable musicians, pianists, and teachers, "A Practical Approach to Harmony of Jazz and Related Forms of Music for Piano" is an excellent adult or skilled instructional guide to a working knowledge of jazz or pop chord progressions and example improvisations in a jazz or pop style for piano. Founded on the classical theory of harmony and chords, this uniquely practical manual follows accepted jazz traditions. For successful, aesthetic application of the principles, suggested chord progressions and other exercises are expected to be practiced and memorized. The pianist fluent in jazz performance is skilled at "performing, modulating, transposing and developing" a framework musical theme or song. The jazz musician must practice material presented in all different keys conscientiously and meticulously.

The introduction to the text begins with working definitions of functional chords, aesthetic principles, and discussion of the influence of harmonics, plus elementary harmony and examples of cadences. Chapters or sub sections in Part One continue with Basic Chords, constructed by superposing thirds (1-3-5-7), Minor 7, Major 7, and Dominant 7, Chord Positions and Progressions, Voice Doubling, Minor 6 and Major 6, and Half-Diminished 7. It continues in chapter 8 with Melody and Harmony I, Motifs, Harmonizing Themes I, Increasing and Decreasing the Number of Voices, Harmonizing Themes II, Four-Note Chords Inversions, Melody and Harmony II, and Parallel Harmony I & II. All sub chapters are illustrated with exercises and musical examples for the pianist to study and master. These exercises increase in length and duration as the book continues. Part 2 begins with Chord Extensions, Positions and Progression, Motifs, and more Harmonizing Themes I & II (Alterations). Increasing in complexity and interest, section 22 presents Chords of Different Construction, Chord Extensions II, and Harmonizing Themes III. A Conclusion reinforces the idea that Jazz was originally taught in action, verbally and by ear, as opposed to by musical notation and written text. This allows a strong case to be made for this valuable practical manual on the jazz pianist's approach to the theory of harmony and use of chords. In addition, the manual contains and Addenda including a Glossary of terms, definition of Rules, and Nomenclature used in this method and system.

The real gold to be mined in "A Practical Approach to Harmony of Jazz and Related Forms of Music for Piano" is prominently displayed (or "buried") in the exercises and examples of progressions, harmonizations, and theme developments. The dedicated jazz performer can learn much from material presented in "A Practical Approach to Harmony of Jazz and Related Forms of Music for Piano." Jazz performance and experimentation can open up the senses to new experiences in enjoyment and performing piano music.

The Gandy Dancers and Work Songs from the American Railroad
Vanita Oelschlager, author
Mike Blanc, illustrator
A. Van Jordan, special contributor
VanitaBooks, LLC
3875 Embassy Parkway, Suite 250, Akron, Ohio 44333
9781938164088, $15.95,

"The Gandy Dancers and Work Songs from the American Railroad" is a beautiful edition exploring early history of America's railroads, as expressed in popular traditional songs by the original Gandy Dancers. Many hardworking men played vital roles in the growing impact of the steam engine railroads. Early rail workers who laid and maintained rail tracks by hand were called gandy dancers, beginning as early as the 1830's up until the 1950's, when the hard hand work was completed by machines. Incredibly vivid stylized color illustrations present action portraits of original gandy dancers from many races and minorities, including African Americans, Chinese, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, as well as Irish, Eastern Europeans, and Italians in different parts of the United States.

The work was hard and heavy, and demanded expert rhythmic cooperation, so the workers used chants to pace their work, communicate with each other, and provide needed uplifting moods to enable crews to lay down 15 miles of railroad tracks per day. A skilled lead singer of a gandy dancers crew could sing all day long and not repeat a song. Illustrated piano/vocal song lyrics for traditional gandy dancer songs include: Skip To My Lou, She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain, John Brown's Body, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Take This Hammer, and of course, John Henry. Additional poems by modern poets inspired by the Gandy Dancers' chants are also featured, two examples from the poetry of A. Van Jordan from the book, "Rise." Wonderful additional resources are listed at the end of "The Gandy Dancers and Work Songs from the American Railroad, including books, web sites, and a film on Gandy Dancers by Jack Schrader and Tim Burton from 1973 called "Gandy Dancers."
Finally, readers and students of Gandy Dancers Songs are encouraged to make up their own poems, songs, or chants in the style of the Gandy Dancers.

VanitaBooks donates all net profits to charities where "people help people help themselves." This enriching practice continues with ten percent of all net profits from "The Gandy Dancers and Work Songs from the American Railroad" going to Friends of Writers, which supports students, alumni and faculty of Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

"The Gandy Dancers and Work Songs from the American Railroad" is a collector's joy, a song and poetry book to be treasured by young readers of all ages.

Stephen A. Douglas
Reg Ankrom
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786498079, $45.00,

Stephen Arnold Douglas (April 23, 1813 - June 3, 1861) was an American politician from Brandon, Vermont and the designer of the Kansas - Nebraska Act. He was a U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party nominee for President in the 1860 election, losing to Republican Abraham Lincoln. Douglas had previously defeated Lincoln in a Senate contest, noted for the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. He was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short in physical stature, but a forceful and dominant figure in politics. Douglas was well known as a resourceful party leader, and an adroit, ready, skillful tactician in debate and passage of legislation. He was a champion of the Young America movement which sought to modernize politics and replace the agrarian and strict constructionist orthodoxies of the past. Douglas was a leading proponent of democracy, and believed in the principle of popular sovereignty: that the majority of citizens should decide contentious issues such as slavery and territorial expansion. As chairman of the Committee on Territories, Douglas dominated the Senate in the 1850s. He was largely responsible for the Compromise of 1850 that apparently settled slavery issues; however, in 1854 he reopened the slavery question with the Kansas - Nebraska Act, which opened some previously prohibited territories to slavery under popular sovereignty. Opposition to this led to the formation of the Republican Party.

Douglas initially endorsed the Dred Scott decision of 1857. But during the 1858 Senate campaign, he argued its effect could be negated by popular sovereignty. He also opposed the efforts of President James Buchanan and his Southern allies to enact a Federal slave code and impose the Lecompton Constitution on Kansas. In 1860, the conflict over slavery led to the split in the Democratic Party in the 1860 Convention. Hardline pro-slavery Southerners rejected Douglas, and nominated their own candidate, Vice President John C. Breckinridge, while the Northern Democrats nominated Douglas. Douglas deeply believed in democracy, arguing the will of the people should always be decisive. When civil war came in April 1861, he rallied his supporters to the Union with all his energies, but he died a few weeks later.

"Stephen A. Douglas the Political Apprenticeship, 1833-1843" by Lincoln scholar and historian Reg Ankrom is an impressively written 240 page political biography that is enhanced with the inclusion of a Chronology Through the First Douglas Decade in Illinois; an informative Introduction and Epilogue; twenty pages of Chapter Notes; an eight page Bibliography; and a nineteen page Index. Exceptionally well written and presented, "Stephen A. Douglas the Political Apprenticeship, 1833-1843" is very highly recommended for community and academic library 19th Century American History and 19th Century American Biography collections.

Communion With Christ According To Saint Teresa Benedicta Of The Cross
Sister M. Regina van den Berg, F.S.G.M.
Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
9781586179519, $15.95,

Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD (12 October 1891 - 9 August 1942), was a German Jewish philosopher who converted to the Roman Catholic Church and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She is a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church. She was born into an observant Jewish family, but was an atheist by her teenage years. Moved by the tragedies of World War I, in 1915 she took lessons to become a nursing assistant and worked in a hospital for the prevention of disease outbreaks. After completing her doctoral thesis in 1916 from the University of Gottingen, she obtained an assistantship at the University of Freiburg.

As a result of the requirement of an "Aryan certificate" for civil servants promulgated by the Nazi government in April 1933 as part of its Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, she had to quit her teaching position. She was admitted to the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Cologne the following October. She received the religious habit of the Order as a novice in April 1934, taking the religious name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross ("Teresa blessed by the Cross"). In 1938 she and her sister Rosa, by then also a convert and an extern Sister of the monastery, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands for their safety. Despite the Nazi invasion of that state in 1940, they remained undisturbed until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.

She was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1998. She is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with St. Benedict of Nursia, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, St. Bridget of Sweden, and St. Catherine of Siena.

"Communion with Christ According to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross" by Sister M. Regina van den Berg is a 165 page perspective on the life, work, and thought of a truly remarkable woman who lived and died in very troubled times. As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Communion With Christ According To Saint Teresa Benedicta Of The Cross" is very rewarding and recommended reading by all members of the Christian community. It should be noted that "Communion With Christ According To Saint Teresa Benedicta Of The Cross" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Rodd Wagner
McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
Cave Henricks Communications
9780071847780, $32.00, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People", Rodd Wagner (one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration) tackles one of the most destructive problems facing organizations today -- the breakdown of the social contract between people and the organizations where they work. "Your people are not your greatest asset. They're not yours, and they're not assets." With this declaration Wagner asserts his argument against the weasel words, contradictions, bad habits, and intrusions that reduce people to "human resources ". To "human capital". To flesh-and-blood widgets. Armed with empirical evidence from the provocative studies he leads around the globe, Wagner guides the reader through the new realities of what it takes to get the highest levels of intensity from people in a more mercenary, skeptical, and wired work world. He explains how elements such as individualization, fearlessness, transparency, recognition, and coolness are reciprocated with loyalty, productivity, innovation, and - inescapably - corporate reputation.

Critique: Offering a truly exceptional and iconoclastic approach, "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People" is an extraordinary read and one that is strongly recommended for anyone charged with a managerial or supervisory responsibility. Practical, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People" is a vitally important and highly recommended addition to community, academic, and corporate instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Joel Harrison
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781845339111, $19.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Distilled: From absinthe & brandy to vodka & whisky, the world's finest artisan spirits unearthed, explained & enjoyed" is a comprehensive guide to exploring the burgeoning world of craft spirits. Today's world of spirits is experiencing an explosive increase in craft distillers and pioneers of new distillates. It's about men and women tearing up rule books and creating new spirits with extraordinary personality and passion. "Distilled" uncovers the best spirits the world has to offer. These are not necessarily the best-known examples on the planet (though if they are good, they have a place here) but the best crafted and most interesting. Spirit by spirit distilled beverage experts Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley explain what you need to know to appreciate a spirit including its ingredients, its classic forms, the choices a distiller makes in creating it, and offer their picks to 'Drink Before You Expire' (the world's best examples of their type, from gin and rum to shochu and tequila). There are plenty of suggestions for how to drink too, with innovative and classic cocktails and their insider tips on getting the best out of your spirits.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout in full color, "Distilled" offers a complete course of an instructional overview that will prove to be an enduringly popular (and useful!) addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections. Informed and informative, "Distilled" is impressively detailed and highly recommended.

How To Grow Your Money
David Meckin
Nicholas Brealey Publishing
20 Park Plaza, Suite 610, Boston, MA 02116
9781857886146, $21.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: "How to Grow Your Own Money: The No-Nonsense Guide for the Independent Investor" by David Meckin advises a new wave of financial investors as refugees of the great Recession, are disgruntled by the reckless advice given to them by salesmen thinly disguised in financial advisors' clothing, and therefore cutting out the middleman and investing their money themselves. In the process they're saving money by eliminating unnecessary fees. Whether investing a large sum of money or a modest amount, taking control of your own investments is not as difficult or time-consuming as some financial services companies would have you believe. But it does require a bit of practical guidance. In "How To Grow Your Money" readers will benefit from Meckin's objective, hard-won insights and strong financial background as highly successful independent investor. "How to Grow Your Own Money" is an accessible guide that shows even the most novice investor on how they can get an edge on the market. It includes the four main investment opportunities available to the independent investor: savings accounts, government and corporate bonds, stocks, and real estate. Replete with tried and tested techniques for building the skills, confidence, and know-how to grow and maximize your returns, "How To Grow Money" will also share Meckin's tried and tested Winning Six approach: a step-by-step methodology that can be applied to any investment opportunity.

Critique: Practical, comprehensive, effective, and 'user friendly', "How To Grow Your Money" is the ideal instruction manual for do-it-yourself investing and money management including stocks, bonds, savings accounts, and property acquisition. Very strongly recommended for both community and academic library Finance/Money Management reference collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "How To Grow Your Money" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Brethren: Fortunes of France
Robert Merle, author
T. Jefferson Kline, translator
Pushkin Press
71-75 Shelton Street, London WC2H 9JQ, United Kingdom
9781782271239, $14.95, 416pp,

Synopsis: Two veteran soldiers retire to a castle in the wildly beautiful Perigord of sixteenth century France. But the country is descending into chaos, plagued by religious strife, famine, pestilence, bands of robbers... and, of course, the English. In the course of "The Brethren: Fortunes of France" readers are introduced to a slew of vivid characters, including the fiery Isabelle, mistress of the castle, refusing to renounce her religious beliefs despite great pressure; the petty and meal-mouthed Francois, unlikely heir to the estate; the brave and loyal Jonas who lives in a cave and keeps a wolf as a pet; the swaggering soldier Cabusse; the outrageously superstitious Maligou, and Sarrazine, who once roamed as part of a wild gypsy band. "The Brethren: Fortunes of France" is a sprawling, earthy tale of violence and lust, love and death, political intrigue and dazzling philosophical debate.

Critique: This impressive translation into English by T. Jefferson Kline of the first volume of Robert Merle's thirteen volume series (written over the course of some twenty-six years) will introduce appreciative readers into an historical action/adventure saga that is compelling, entertaining, and truly extraordinary. This first volume will leave it's enthusiastic readers looking eagerly toward the rest of the series. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Historical Fiction collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Brethren: Fortunes of France" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99), as well as an Audible Book format ($27.95).

Detour: Hollywood
William Dickerson
Kettle of Letters Press
9780985188634, $14.99, 180pp,

Synopsis: In "Detour: Hollywood: How To Direct a Microbudget Film (or any film, for that matter)" screen writer and film director William Dickerson puts the making of his underground hit, "Detour", on display for all to see. "Detour: Hollywood" will teach aspiring film makers on just what they really need to know about making a microbudget film, or a film of any budget for that matter, from the nuts and bolts of directing, to getting their movie made and out into the world, including: The director as the sole defense for the story; Understanding the two main ingredients of film making: Subtext and Point of View; Beating out a script; The template for creating the perfect Director's Binder; Action Verbs: How to adjust performance through severity and mildness; Avoiding the trap of style over substance; The importance of Theme; Detailed behind-the-scenes of the Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production and Distribution of Detour; How the distribution model has changed...for the better.

Critique: A complete course of film making instruction under one cover using Dickerson's own film as a template example, "Detour: Hollywood" is candidly practical, thoroughly 'user friendly', and an essential instruction guide -- especially for independent film makers working on shoestring budgets. "Detour: Hollywood" is very highly recommended for academic library Theatre/Cinema Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Detour: Hollywood" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

The Prosperous Soul DVD Study
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768405200, $ 49.99, 2 Disc Set

Choosing a Life of Abundance and Prosper: Spiritually, Emotionally, Intellectually, Physically, Relationally, Vocationally, and Financially

This DVD study includes a two disc set for video teaching for eight sessions. These sessions are led by Dr. Cindy Trimm, filmed in a representative group setting. A Leader's Guide is included in handy compact plastic kit.

Step by step instructions provide the leader with vision and inspiration for the each of the eight weekly sessions that make up this 40 Day Adventure leading to complete prosperity of the soul. These guidelines include suggestions for group or individual use. The Prosperous Soul book and study guide are also available for individual participants.

Dr. Cindy Trimm is widely recognized as an advocate for cultural change, with a background in government, education, and theology. Dr. Trimm is highly motivated and genuine; she radiates confidence, enthusiasm, and joy. She is a gifted communicator who inspires, motivates, and empowers individuals in well-chosen terms that are easily understood, applicable, and transformational.

I was impressed with Dr. Trimm's humility, charismatic personality, and anointed teaching. Each fast moving presentation captured my full attention. I am eager to review the DVD series again with book, study guide, and a remote control/pause button in hand to review each of the eight keys to the prospering the Soul: Spiritually, Emotionally, Intellectually, Physically, Relationally, Vocationally, and Financially.

A complimentary copy of this material was made available for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Honey the Dixie Dingo Dog: Champion of the Strays
Allan Paul
Telemachus Press, LLC
7652 Sawmill Road, Suite 304, Dublin, Ohio 43016
9781941536711, $9.99, 2014, 130 pages,

From Ditch Dog to Sportsman's Champion

"Honey the Dixie Dingo Dog - Champion of the Strays" is a fictional story from the viewpoint of Honey, a Dixie Dingo dog. As the narrator of this first person, or canine, Honey tells her story. She tells of her family and home in the swamps of Critter trail, in Urban Forest along the Savanah River.

Honey is a part of a vanishing breed of dogs known as the Dixie Dingle or Carolina dog, a direct descendant of the wolf, frequently mistaken for the Coyote. Because they travel in packs they, are often looked upon as strays or ditch dogs. Honey tells how she let down her guard and became the victim of an armed and dangerous trapper, then miraculously rescued by a pretty lady, an advocate for saving Dixie Dingle dogs.

Confident that Honey's natural instincts and other attributes observed in her response to her basic training of Canine good sportsmanship and the way she bonded with her training, her new owners Miss Jane and Mr. Billy entered into the Grand Championship completion for the blue ribbon champion in agility. It was soon determined that the future of Honey's pack or family was at stake. She had to win this competition.

Author and journalist Allen Paul is a natural story teller; imaginative and articulate he delivers a twofold message. There are lessons we can all learn from dogs like Honey. She demonstrated loyalty to family (her pack) and the benefit of receiving the strength to overcome adversity when working together. Another take away I noted - is a lesson Honey learned from her Mama and Papa, "Be careful who you run with - watch where you step" and "to live and let live," or to respect others.

I enjoyed the background information on the origin of the Dixie Dingle dogs and the relationship to the Cherokee Indian as well as the cause of protecting the endangered animals. I was also reminded of the opportunities provided by the many "Adopt a Pet" programs available to us.

The book is a tribute to Jane and Billy Benton for their efforts to save the Dixie Dingle breed of dogs. Illustrations of Honey drawn by Lukasz and Zoe Winston capture the spirit and distinctive look of the Dixie dingo breed.

"Honey the Dixie Dingo Dog - Champion of the Strays" is a heartwarming story for family reading and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Highly recommended.

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

The Cancer Solution - Taking Charge of Your Life with Cancer
Jack C. Westman, M.D., M. S.
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana 47403
9781480813083, $ 20.00, 298 pages,

A Valuable Guidebook for Cancer Victims and Their Families

Dr. Jack C. Westman M.D, M.S Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health open his book "The Cancer Solution - Taking Charge of Your Life with Cancer" with his wife's 34 year journey of living with cancer.

The book goes on to describe current prevalent cancer treatment, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, its methods and results. He helps the reader understand how to take an active part in managing their own health and medical problems.

I found the review of the history and development of cancer care practical and helpful. Dr. Westman's explanation of the multiplication of cancer cells, and neoplasia are especially informative. Full chapters are devoted to cancer research, clinical trials and treatments, new approaches, immunotherapy, and nutritional therapy. Chapter eleven deals with complementing your treatment and is significant in that it relates to a holistic approach to cancer and personal responsibility.

Dr. Westman's conclusions are, logically presented, authoritative and convincing. His extensive research is well documented and provides the reader with excellent suggestions for further reading.

"The Cancer Solution - Taking Charge of Your Life with Cancer" is a practical guidebook for anyone diagnosed with cancer, and their family, as well as for hospice caregivers, and professionals in the field of oncology, and healthcare.

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

No More Excuses, the Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth
Sam Silverstein
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768417325, $15.99, 198 Pages,

The Imperative of Taking Responsibility for Personal Accountability

The highlight of my reading this month is the Book "No More Excuses" by Sam Silverstein. Silverstein is dedicated to helping company leadership create organizations that prioritize and inspire accountability. The book's subtitle "The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth" describes this premise and is the primary theme.

Silverstein draws on his person experience, from case studies and interviews with 50 internationally known CEOs, and other highly accountable individuals in fields of business, sports, government, and medicine. These leaders are known for their productive and proactive accountability. Their true stories illustrate a standard of holding themselves and others in their organizations accountable for making accountable choices.

I benefited from the insights I gained on: Improving my communication skills; developing the skill of personal accountability, the importance of being openly transparent, the need to establish high targets, the art of empowering others, and the need for clarity in building relationships. I found the Accountability checks at the end of each chapter practical and challenging, providing helpful action steps for implementing and reinforcing each of the five growth accountabilities. A unique feature of this edition of "No More Excuses" is an excerpt from Silverstein's new book "Non-Negotiable - The Story of Happy State Bank and the Power of Accountability."

"No More Excuses" is an important book for Corporate CEOs, executives, and every member of their leadership team.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided for review purposes.

One Season of Hope
Jim Stovall
Sound Wisdom Publishers
167 Walnut Rd, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407129, $19.99, 200 pages,

A Dramatic Story of Courage and Hope - Inspiring Teamwork and Sportsmanship

Bestselling author Jim Stovall's "One Season of Hope" is the first in a series of books and movies featuring historical homecomings. In this inspiring novel Stovall combines human discernments, historical events and unforgettable characters.

Truman High School's Glen Fullerton, coach of the Truman High Eagles, is being honored at his retirement dinner, after a 42 year career as coach and history teacher, at Truman High in Springfield, Missouri, the birthplace of President Harry S. Truman.

Throughout the evening, Coach Fullerton relives highlights from his career, championship games, trophies won, games lost, and the possibilities, potential achievements and disappointments of some of his key players.

Through imaginary conversations with President Harry S. Truman, at the foot of a life-sized statue of the President, (fondly referred to as Harry), Coach Fullerton gained insight into the process Truman used in the decisions he faced during the course of his career, and in the climatic days of of World War II. These dialogues with the president helped Fullerton face strategic decisions throughout his coaching and teaching career.

One particular season stands out in his reflections, fondly remembered as the season of hope, which centered on Bradley Hope; a victim of Ewing's Sarcoma, Bradley's story is a tribute to his spirit, of courage, purpose, and hope.

Riveting suspense builds to a climax that keeps the reader awestruck through play-by- play accounts of action "under the lights." Stovall's choice of strong positive words encourage sportsmanship, team building; leaving the reader with life changing inspiration which motivate character traits of teamwork, sportsmanship, self-discipline, resolve, and confidence.

Stovall's remarkable word pictures and descriptions stimulate emotional involvement. His characters are genuine and believable creating empathy and a bonding with the reader.

This is a book for sports fans, coaches, and achievement motivated readers, and leaders in the community. This is a book that should be in public and private school libraries. "One Season of Hope" will also be enjoyed by fans of inspirational novels with a historical perspective

Stovall's flair for using fiction to inspire readers to step up to the plate to unselfishly reach beyond themselves to impact and touch the lives of others within their community is again demonstrate in "One Season of Hope." His remarkable word pictures, descriptions and identification grip the heartstrings and stimulate emotional involvement of the reader. "One Season of Hope" will be a story long remembered after closing the last page.

Things I Wish I'D Known - Cancer and Kids
Deborah J. Cornwall
Bardolf & Company
5430 Colewood Place, Sarasota, FL 34232
9781938842221, $7.95, 60 Pages,

KidCentric Keys to Helping Kids Deal with Cancer

"Things I Wish I'D Known - Cancer and Kids" is made up of tips from experts and heart felt stories gleaned from interviews with people who have experienced surviving the emotional highs and lows of helping children deal with Cancer. The book is divided into five chapters which focus on helping the reader better understanding how to better deal with children facing the complexities of coping with cancer.

Topics considered in these chapters include communicating the basic information of cancer as a disease, what the child can expect as they move through the process, and the impact it will have on routine family activities. Cornwall also speaks specifically to issues when the child is the patient, and when a child loses a parent or a sibling to the disease. She also introduces the prospect of death and dying, and the process of grief in the case of the loss of a family member.

The format of the book is reader friendly concise, yet compressive, filled with suggestions for resources available for further reference, reading or study. She includes website suggestions, and information available from the American Cancer Society. Cornwall long association with the Cancer Action Network and the Cancer Support Community validate and affirm her creditability and sensibility to the issues covered in the book.

"Things I Wish I'D Known - Cancer and Kids" is an important resource took for parents, pediatric professionals, family counselors, and social workers.

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

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Picture of Grace
Josh Armstrong
Josh Armstrong Publishing
9780986237003, $12.00, 34pgs,

This is a warm heart tail of a young girl named, Grace, and her beloved Grandfather. Grandpa is a well known artist. Grace and her Grandfather are very close and Grace loves to see her grandfather paint and visits him often. One day it was time for Grandpa to leave the earth and Grace had to face the pain of death of someone who was everything to her.

Talking about death is never easy, sharing the pain of a child losing a beloved loved one is even harder but this author did a outstanding job in sharing this feeling of sorrow, yet bringing some good into the situation as well. In her writing she shared the love they shared and she also showed the sorrow Grace felt learning about his death. However, our author turned the focus. as young Grace does something she feels for her Grandfather that helps to release her sorrow and bring her joy. I liked this read, I liked the illustrations and the message it brings. Very well done.

Parents For Sale
Dr.Nicole Audet
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781496956443, $21.99, 44pgs,

This is a story of two children who don't really like how their house is being run, especially if their dog is involved, so they decide perhaps they need to sell their parents and get a set of new ones. Do they succeed?

First off, let me say that I liked the illustrations, they really helped to bring the story to life. Now about the story. I think almost everyone growing up has had the thought of perhaps it would be better if they could trade in their parents and get a new set, it's just what kids think as they grow up. So, this story is one that I'm pretty sure almost every child will understand. It is a fun tale, we even get to enjoy a visit from a very creepy Witch! Does the Witch get the children? Hum, I'm not telling. The story will definitely hold your child's attention and the illustrations are very helpful. Do they sell their parents? I recommend this tale, it really is a good one.

Dead Scary The Ghost Who Refused To Leave
Sally Gould
Orbis Media
9780994182715, $7.00, 152pgs,

In this adventure we travel with a family whose Mom had inherited money and the family moves into a beautiful Mansion. They are excited but that is short lived as one of the children soon learns they are not alone. Adam, the son, is able to see in the Spirit world. He realizes there is another boy in ghost form who is in the house. Thus the story begins, as this boy died young and this was his family's home. He is not happy that others are moving in and does everything in his 'spirit' power to move them out.

I liked this read. The characters were very well defined and I felt as if I knew the family and the young Ghost, and other supernatural beings because of the authors descriptions and sharing the activities, good and bad, they did. Our young Ghost does everything in his power to have this family move, and our young boy is just as determined that they will not move. He has no fear of the Spirit and does everything in his power for his family to stay. Adam is quite able to see into the Spirit realm, a gift he has inherited from her Grandfather, which the rest of the family cannot. Really made the story more interesting. This is a spooky read, yet it is also a story of family and loyalty. The Supernatural is explored, Thos who have passed connected with the Living. It is adventurous, and has just the right amount of downright creepy to round it out. Characters are good, story is well written and ending is excellent. I think you will like this one. I'm happy to recommend it to you.

Killer Insight
Victoria Laurie
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451219336, $2.00, 304pgs,

Abby is a psychic who gives readings and she has a boyfriend who is a FBI Agent. In this story Abby becomes involved with the Mob, know knowing her boyfriend is investigating the same group. Things get downright scary for both of them as the story moves along. I really liked this book, it was the first time I have read this group of books by this author. I found that I didn't want to put it down but wanted to keep reading until I was finished with the story. It definitely help my attention, had both humor and danger in it and supernatural as well as mystery. This author really knows how to put together a good read. I enjoyed it and am very happy to recommend it to you

The Funny Adventures of Beanie
M.H. Gill, author
Hila Dabbi, illustrator
Contento de Semrik
c/o Amazon Digital Services
9789655503838, $11.99 print
ASIN B000X552H4, $0.99 Kindle, 26pgs

This is a very cute tale about a Bean, and his Bean town. Beanie is a adorable little Bean but he isn't sure of his purpose. He travels outside of his town and has an adventure that he will not soon forget. Will Beanie find his purpose? This is a very cute read with nice illustrations. I believe young children will really enjoy this and you will enjoy sharing it with them. It's light hearted and fun and I'm happy to recommend it.

You Oughta See Me Naked
Ed Bartlett
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781505646665, $12.95, 172pp,

As we grow old things happen and sometimes if you look at it a certain way you can't help but laugh. To me this is what this book is all about. Moving along in life, taking risks when maybe you should not have, suffering though ailments yet keeping your giggle, and well just being older. This brought a new view once again, brought me some laughs and also some mixed up emotions. However, I also have to say it did make me do some thinking. Perhaps keeping our sense of human during our aging years is where the victory is won. Attitude seems to be the secret to happiness, or is it? Good read that will definitely give you a giggle and definitely rethink aging. I liked it.

The Feud
Frank Heiberger
Createspace Publishing
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781502814289, $13.99, 355pgs,

In this read we meet India, a young writer who is struggling to make ends met. Finally she gets offered a job writing a history for a wealthy family in Missouri. Little did she know that while investigating her story she would have not only live people to deal with, but those who have also passed into the afterlife. I liked this story, I think the author did a very good job at character and location development. The story was both moving and creepy at the same time, that is hard to do, but it kept me reading until the end. It is definitely the supernatural merging with the natural and bringing forth one outstanding read. Character development with both the living and dead was rich. This is a page turner read and one that will definitely keep you reading from beginning to end. Recommended read.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Fortune in My Eyes
David Rothenberg
Applause Books
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
19 West 21st Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10010
Over the River Public Relations
9781557839268, $29.95, 318pp,

Synopsis: David Rothenberg's multilayered life thrust him into Broadway's brightest lights, prison riots, political campaigns, civil rights sit-ins, and a Central American civil war. In his memoir, "Fortune in My Eyes: A Memoir of Broadway Glamour, Social Justice, and Political Passion", Rothenberg's journey includes many of the most celebrated names in the theater including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Sir John Gielgud, Charles Boyer, Peggy Lee, Eartha Kitt, Charles Laughton, Alvin Ailey, and numerous others. Rothenberg produced an Off-Broadway prison drama, 'Fortune and Men's Eyes', which reshaped his life. John Herbert's chilling play led directly to the creation of the Fortune Society, which has evolved into one of the nation's most formidable advocacy and service organizations in criminal justice. Rothenberg was Elizabeth Taylor's opening night date at the Richard Burton Hamlet a distant cry from his entering Attica prison during that institution's famed inmate uprising -- just two of the experiences revealed in this memoir. As a theater publicist and producer and as a social activist he shares experiences with presidents (JFK and Bill Clinton) and with anonymous men and women, out of prison, who have fought to reclaim their lives. The human drama of the formerly incarcerated is a match for many of the entertainment world's most fabled characters.

Critique: Impressively candid, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, extraordinarily informed, informative, and an continuously entertaining read from first page to last, "Fortune in My Eyes: A Memoir of Broadway Glamour, Social Justice, and Political Passion" should be considered a 'must' for all Broadway Theatre History enthusiasts. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Theatre and American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Fortune in My Eyes" is also available in a paperback edition (9781495003158, $19.99) and in a Kindle format ($14.05).

Narrative Paths
Kai Mikkonen
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814212745, $76.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: In "Narrative Paths: African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction", Kai Mikkonen (Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Helsinki, Finland) argues that early twentieth-century European travel writing, journal keeping, and fiction converged and mutually influenced each other in ways that inform current debates about the fiction - nonfiction distinction. Turning to narratives set in sub-Saharan Africa, Professor Mikkonen identifies five main dimensions of interplay between fiction and nonfiction: the experiential frame of the journey, the redefinition of the language and objective of description, the shared cultural givens and colonial notions concerning sub-Saharan Africa, the theme of narrativisation, and the issue of virtual genres. "Narrative Paths" reveals the important role that travel played as a frame in these modernist fictions as well as the crucial ways that nonfiction travel narratives appropriated fictional strategies.

Critique: An impressive work of truly seminal scholarship, "Narrative Paths: African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction" is enhanced with the inclusion of eight illustrations, twelve pages of references, and a fifty-one page index. As an absorbing a study as it is informed and informative, "Narrative Paths" is a unique and strongly recommended addition to academic library collections, as well as African Studies and Literary Studies supplemental reading lists. It should be noted that "Narrative Paths" is
also available in a multimedia CD format ($14.95).

From The Elephant's Back
Lawrence Durrell
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9781772120516, $39.95, 300pp,

Synopsis: Best known for his novels and travel writing, Lawrence Durrell defied easy classification within twentieth-century modernism. His anti-authoritarian tendencies put him at odds with many contemporaries-aesthetically and politically. However, thanks to a compelling recontextualization by editor James Gifford, these 38 previously unpublished or out-of-print essays and letters comprising this University of Alberta Press edition of "From the Elephant's Back: Collected Essays & Travel Writings" reveal that Durrell's maturation as an artist was rich, complex, and subtle. "From the Elephant's Back" promises to open up new approaches to interpreting his more famous works. Durrell fans will treasure this selection of rare nonfiction, while scholars of Durrell, Modernist literature, anti-authoritarian artists, and the Personalist movement will also appreciate Gifford's fine editorial work.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "From The Elephant's Back" is an outstanding collection of masterfully crafted essays organized into four major sections: Personal Positions; Ideas About Literature; Eternal Contemporaries; and Spirit of Place: Travel Writings. Very highly recommended for academic library collections, "From The Elephant's Back" will prove to be engaging, memorable, thought-provoking reading, and ultimately rewarding.

Protest On The Page
James L. Baughman, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, James P. Danky
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299302849, $39.95, 278pp,

Synopsis: The use of print to challenge prevailing ideas and conventions has a long history in American public life. As dissenters in America sought social change, they used print to document, articulate, and disseminate their ideas to others. Protest always begins on the margins, but print is the medium that allows it to reach a larger audience. In "Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent ", scholars in multiple disciplines offer ten original essays that examine protest print culture in America since 1865. They explore the surprising range of dissidents who enlisted print in their causes - from vegetarians and anarchists at the advent of the twentieth century, to midcentury evangelicals and tween comic book readers, to GIs and feminists in the 1970s - 80s. Together they demonstrate that print has never been a neutral medium, but rather has been instrumental in shaping the substance of protest and its audiences.

Critique: The latest addition the outstanding University of Wisconsin Press series 'The History of Print and Digital Culture', deftly organized into three major sections (Revolt and Reaction; Consensus Contested; Dangerous Print), "Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent" should be considered a critically important and core addition to academic library Communication & Journalism reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent" is also available in a Kindle edition ($34.95).

Mike's Place
Jack Baxter & Joshua Faudem, authors
Koren Shadmi, illustrator
First Second
175 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781596438576, $22.99, 192pp,

Synopsis: There's a rule at Mike's Place: never, ever talk politics or religion. At this blues bar on the Tel Aviv beachfront, an international cast of characters mingles with the locals, and everyone is welcome to grab a beer and forget the conflict outside. At least, that's the story Jack and Joshua want to tell in their documentary. But less than a month after they begin filming, Mike's Place is the target of a deadly suicide bombing. Jack, Joshua, and the Mike's Place family survive the only way they know how-by keeping the camera rolling. Written by filmmakers Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem and illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Koren Shadmi, Mike's Place chronicles the true story of an infamous terrorist attack in painstaking detail. Rarely has the slow build to tragedy, and the rebirth that follows, been captured with such a compassionate and unflinching eye.

Critique: A riveting graphic novel collaboratively written by talented authors Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem and which is 'brought to life' by the black-and-white illustrative skills of Koren Shadmi, "Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv" is an engaging story that could have been ripped from Israeli newspaper headlines. As thought-provoking as it is reader engaging from first page to last, "Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Graphic Novel collections.

Jonathan J. Edwards
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25
East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611861594, $44.95, 268pp,

Synopsis: Christian Fundamentalism is a doctrine and a discourse in tension. Fundamentalists describe themselves as both marginal and a majority. They announce the imminent end of the world while building massive megachurches and political lobbying organizations. They speak of the need for purity and separation from the outside world while continually innovating in their search for more effective and persuasive ways to communicate with and convert outsiders. To many outsiders, Fundamentalist speech seems contradictory, irrational, intolerant, and dangerously anti-democratic. To understand the complexity of Fundamentalism, we have to look inside the tensions and the paradoxes. We have to take seriously the ways in which Fundamentalists describe themselves to themselves, and to do that, we must begin by exploring the central role of "the church" in Fundamentalist rhetoric and politics. Drawing on five fascinating case studies, "Superchurch: The Rhetoric and Politics of American Fundamentalism" blends a complex yet readable treatment of rhetorical and political theory with a sophisticated approach to Fundamentalism that neither dismisses its appeal nor glosses over its irresolvable tensions. Edwards challenges theories of rhetoric, counterpublics, deliberation, and civility while offering critical new insights into the evolution and continuing influence of one of the most significant cultural and political movements of the past century.

Critique: "Superchurch: The Rhetoric and Politics of American Fundamentalism" Jonathan J. Edwards (Instructor of Speech Communication and Rhetoric at the University of South Carolina) is a work of seminal scholarship and presented in six major chapters: The Public and Its Fundamentalists; The Fundamentals of Revival; Three Countersymbols and confederacy; The Superchurch Revealed; The Superchurch Reimagined; The Limits of Accommodation. Enhanced with an informative Introduction and a Conclusion; thirty-four pages of Notes; and a twenty-seven page Index, "Superchurch: The Rhetoric and Politics of American Fundamentalism" will prove of immense interest to academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the rise and political/cultural influence of fundamentalist Christianity in America. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Superchurch: The Rhetoric and Politics of American Fundamentalism" is also available in a Kindle edition ($35.95).

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

A Quick & Dirty Guide to War
James F. Dunnigan & Austin Bay
Paladin Press
5540 Central Ave Suite 200, Boulder, CO 80301
9781581606836, $51.00, 640pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and significantly expanded fourth edition, "A Quick and Dirty Guide to War" not only provided essential tools for understanding wars and hot spots around the world, they delivered remarkably accurate projections on the outcomes of each conflict. War-game simulation specialists James F. Dunnigan and Austin Bay have revised their highly regarded analyses, bringing up to date not only the many conventional conflicts around the world today but the new battlegrounds that have emerged since the previous edition was published more than a decade ago - the Global War on Terror, counterinsurgency struggles around the world and the latest frontier of modern combat: cyber war.

This fourth edition takes up where the last edition left off and analyzes the monumental events that have occurred since 1996 - September 11, the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - while guiding readers through dozens of other significant developments around the globe, including the tinderbox situation with Iran and oil flow through the Persian Gulf; the final disintegration of Yugoslavia; the struggle for regional influence between Brazil, Colombia and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela; Israel's attempts to deal with a fragmented Palestine Liberation Organization; China and India's growing influence in Asia and beyond; ongoing chaos and suffering on the Horn of Africa; Russia's struggle to reassert itself on the world stage; and much more.

Dunnigan and Bay present an enormous amount of information in a series of concise, insightful briefings coupled with their shrewd projections of potential outcomes, making A Quick and Dirty Guide to War a thought-provoking reference on the face of war in the 21st century.

Critique: Of the making of war there is no end. "A Quick & Dirty Guide to War" is deftly organized into seven major sections: Wars without Borders (comprised of chapters on 'The Global War on Terror' and 'Cyber War'); The Middle East; Europe; Asia; Africa; The Americas; Databanks on Wars and Armies, Present and Potential. Enhanced with an informative Introduction; the inclusion of a beginning advisory on 'How to Use This Book'; and an eight page Index, "A Quick & Dirty Guide to War" offers a wealth of documented data on all the conflicts currently raging around the world and an informed perspective on what can be expected in the near term future. Very strongly recommended for both community and academic library collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Quick & Dirty Guide to War" is also available in a Kindle edition ($30.11).

From Walmart to Al Qaeda
David Murillo
Greenleaf Publishing
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781783531936, $39.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: "From Walmart to Al Qaeda: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Globalization" by David Murillo (a Senior Academic based at the Department of Social Sciences, Esade Business School, Barcelona, Spain) provides a refreshing new look at how society is being shaped by globalization. "From Walmart to Al Qaeda" tackles themes such as how Western societies discuss the role that democracy should play in a complex, interdependent world in which the growth priorities are set by big corporations, investment banks and sovereign funds. And how governments formerly elected by voters give way to ones run by technocrats who are unpopular with citizens but enjoy market support. "From Walmart to Al Qaeda" is a highly stimulating read that looks at how these apparent destructive patterns can be both explained and potentially remedied.

Critique: An impressive multidisciplinary analytical approach to the growing phenomena of globalization, "From Walmart to Al Qaeda" is presented in seven informed and informative chapters: Introduction to Globalization; Social Change, Technology and Collective Identities; Economic Globalization; Financial Globalization; Contemporary Corporate Culture; State Sovereignty and World Governance; Values and Challenges of Global Governance: Europeanizing the World. A seminal work of impeccable scholarship, "From Walmart to Al Qaeda" will prove of immense value to academia and is readily accessible to non-specialist general readers with an interest in globalization issues. Highly recommended for community and academic library collections, "From Walmart to Al Qaeda" is available in a hardcover edition (9781783535019, $110.00). For personal reading lists, "From Walmart to Al Qaeda" is available in a Kindle edition ($37.95) as well.

Secret History
Nick Redfern
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road, #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578594795, $19.95, 448pp,

Synopsis: Official histories are written by the winners and the powerful vested interests. But how much of it is fiction? And who is really in control today? From the dawn of civilization to the 21st century, from ancient aliens to the New World Order, "Secret History: Conspiracies from Ancient Aliens to the New World Order" examines, explores, and uncovers the hidden, overlooked, and buried history of mankind. "Secret History" moves from biblical, Egyptian, Mayan, Greek, and early mysteries of antiquity to the clandestine doings of the Nazis and the Masons and assassination plots of the more recent past to the surveillance, monitoring, mind-control, and secret schemes of today. Researcher Nick Redfern investigates the stories, mythologies, lore behind incredible events and clandestine groups of yesterday and today. More than 60 entries dig deep into the manipulation of events by influential groups, including: historical riddles, alien visitations, space gods, and human - alien crossbreeding; government cover ups, mind control, murders, scientists, and secret agents; powerful groups and intended consequences, 9-11, new world order, bird-flu, and chemtrails -- and so much more!

Critique: Deftly organized into three major sections (Ancient Aliens; Conspiracies; New World Order), "Secret History: Conspiracies from Ancient Aliens to the New World Order" is enhanced with the inclusion of numerous illustrations, an informative introduction, a twenty-two page bibliography, and a twenty-five page index. A fascinating and highly recommended read, "Secret History: Conspiracies from Ancient Aliens to the New World Order" is perfect for browsing and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Secret History: Conspiracies from Ancient Aliens to the New World Order" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.95).

On Palestine
Noam Chomsky & Ilan Pappe
Publicity Department
Haymarket Books
PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618
9781608464708, $11.95, 220pp,

Synopsis: Operation Protective Edge, Israel's most recent assault on Gaza, left thousands of Palestinians dead and cleared the way for another Israeli land grab. The need to stand in solidarity with Palestinians has never been greater. Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky, two leading voices in the struggle to liberate Palestine, discuss the road ahead for Palestinians and how the international community can pressure Israel to end its human rights abuses against the people of Palestine. "On Palestine" is the sequel to their acclaimed book "Gaza in Crisis" (9781608463312, $16.95, 300pp).

Critique: Noam Chomsky (Institute Professor Emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy) is one of the world's foremost social critics, and one of its most prolific. Ilan Pappe (a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at Haifa University and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies, Haifa) is the author of "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" (Oneworld, 9781851685554, $17.95, 336pp); "A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples" (Cambridge University Press, 978-0521683159, $34.99, 378pp); and "The Israel/Palestine Question" (Routledge, 978-0415410953, $47.95, 304pp). Together in a collaboration that draw upon their years of experience and expertise with Palestinian issues "On Palestine" is their latest effort providing a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Very highly recommended for academic library International Studies reference collections in general, and Palestinian Studies supplemental reading lists in particular, it should be noted that "On Palestine" is also available for personal reading lists in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

A Practical Guide To Government Management
Vince Meconi
Bernan Press
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781598887525, $50.00, 320pp,

Synopsis: "A Practical Guide to Government Management" provides a comprehensive yet one-volume work on high-level government management and can be described as a management book, reference book, and textbook all in one. It is geared towards any upper level government manager, public administration student, or anyone interested in public sector management. Government managers receive limited or no management training, and at higher levels, focus more on policy than management, with negative consequences for the agencies they manage. "A Practical Guide To Government Management" seeks to address that dearth, written from the point of view of someone who successfully led government organizations, for an extended period, and faced a wide variety of management problems and issues. It covers a number of topics seldom discussed (and certainly not all in one volume), such as handling problem employees, cutback management, prioritization, making decisions, gaining control of an organization, and telling one's boss the elected official no.

Critique: In "A Practical Guide To Government Management", author Vince Meconi draws upon his more than 35 year government career (which has included all 3 branches of government and federal, state, and local service), including his 16-year tenure as a cabinet secretary (one of the longest in Delaware history) and his time as a former President of the National Association of State Chief Administrators, to write a thoroughly comprehensive, superbly organized, and effectively presented instruction guide and manual that will prove to be an invaluable reference for anyone charged with a managerial responsibility for any level of governmental service. Impressively 'user friendly', "A Practical Guide To Government Management" should be a part of every community, academic, and governmental library Political Science reference collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Practical Guide To Government Management" is also available in a Kindle edition ($39.45).

Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability
National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9780309314749, $60.00, 266pp,

Synopsis: A high percentage of defense systems fail to meet their reliability requirements. This is a serious problem for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as well as the nation. Those systems are not only less likely to successfully carry out their intended missions, but they also could endanger the lives of the operators. Furthermore, reliability failures discovered after deployment can result in costly and strategic delays and the need for expensive redesign, which often limits the tactical situations in which the system can be used. Finally, systems that fail to meet their reliability requirements are much more likely to need additional scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and to need more spare parts and possibly replacement systems, all of which can substantially increase the life-cycle costs of a system.

Beginning in 2008, DOD undertook a concerted effort to raise the priority of reliability through greater use of design for reliability techniques, reliability growth testing, and formal reliability growth modeling, by both the contractors and DOD units. To this end, handbooks, guides, and formal memoranda were revised or newly issued to reduce the frequency of reliability deficiencies for defense systems in operational testing and the effects of those deficiencies. "Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability" evaluates these recent changes and, more generally, assesses how current DOD principles and practices could be modified to increase the likelihood that defense systems will satisfy their reliability requirements. This report examines changes to the reliability requirements for proposed systems; defines modern design and testing for reliability; discusses the contractor's role in reliability testing; and summarizes the current state of formal reliability growth modeling. The recommendations of "Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability" will improve the reliability of defense systems and protect the health of the valuable personnel who operate them.

Critique: The collaborative project of the Panel on Reliability Growth Methods for Defense Systems, the Committee on National Statistics, and the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, "Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability" is a seminal work that should be required reading for anyone involved in national policy development and implementation. A very highly and critically important addition to academic and governmental library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability" is also available in a Kindle edition ($45.99).

Poland: The First Thousand Years
Patrice M. Dabrowski
Northern Illinois University Press
2280 Bethany Road, DeKalb, IL 60115
9780875804873, $45.95, 506pp,

Synopsis: Since its beginnings, Poland has been a moving target, geographically as well as demographically, and the very definition of who is a Pole has been in flux. In the late medieval and early modern periods, the country grew to be the largest in continental Europe, only to be later wiped off the map for more than a century. The Polish phoenix that rose out of the ashes of World War I was obliterated by the joint Nazi-Soviet occupation that began with World War II. The postwar entity known as Poland was shaped and controlled by the Soviet Union. Yet even under these constraints, Poles persisted in their desire to wrest from their oppressors a modicum of national dignity and, ultimately, managed to achieve much more than that.

"Poland: The First Thousand Years" is a sweeping account designed to amplify major figures, moments, milestones, and turning points in Polish history. These include important battles and illustrious individuals, alliances forged by marriages and choices of religious denomination, and meditations on the likes of the Polish battle slogan "for our freedom and yours" that resounded during the Polish fight for independence in the long 19th century and echoed in the Solidarity period of the late 20th century.

The experience of oppression helped Poles to endure and surmount various challenges in the 20th century, and Poland's demonstration of strength was a model for other peoples seeking to extract themselves from foreign yoke. Patrice Dabrowski's work situates Poland and the Poles within a broader European framework that locates this multiethnic and multidenominational region squarely between East and West. "Poland: The First Thousand Years" is an illuminating chronicle that will appeal to general readers, and will be of special interest to those of Polish descent who will appreciate Poland's longstanding republican experiment.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Poland: The First Thousand Years" is presented in four major historically chronological sections: Poland in Europe; The Europe of Poland; Europe without Poland; Poland in Europe and the World. A work of truly impressive and painstaking scholarship, "Poland: The First Thousand Years" is enhanced with the inclusion of a list of illustrations, an informative preface, a Note on Names, a pronunciation guide, an eight page list of suggestions for further reading, and a thirty-nine page index. Very highly recommended as a core addition to community and academic library Polish History collections and supplemental study reading lists, it should be noted that "Poland: The First Thousand Years" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.49).

Paul T. Vogel

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

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