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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 11 November 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
Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Green Beauty Rules
Paige Padgett
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757318702, $21.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: We all want to feel sexy yet demonstrate compassion for our planet at the same time. In "The Green Beauty Rules: The Essential Guide to Toxic-Free Beauty, Green Glamour, and Glowing Skin", Paige Padgett (a leading authority on environmentally friendly 'green' beauty) shares personal anecdotes, insider secrets and surprising facts about the beauty industry, while seamlessly fusing environmental issues with her modern beauty philosophy. "The Green Beauty Rules" is the first of its kind to offer an action plan for creating a totally green beauty routine! Using a step-by-step formula, Padgett guides readers through the decision-making process of what to try, what to toss, and what to buy. She also teaches practical strategies to make green beauty easy, including how to read labels, see through misleading buzzwords, and identify toxic chemicals. "Green Beauty Rules" (both the book and the brand) is about discovering that green can be glamorous. Leaving all the jargon behind, Padgett offers precise information in a fun, friendly format, and gives women all the tools they need to reduce their Cosmetic Footprint and adopt a more sustainable, healthy and sexy lifestyle! For readers who are new to the green beauty scene or already experimenting with ecoconscious makeup and skincare, "The Green Beauty Rules" is the essential guide to a fresh and sexy attitude for a healthier future.

Critique: Impressively well written, informed and informative, "The Green Beauty Rules: The Essential Guide to Toxic-Free Beauty, Green Glamour, and Glowing Skin" should be considered essential reading for all environmentally conscious readers who use beauty care products of any kind and for any purpose. Thoroughly accessible in design and format for the non-specialist general readers, "The Green Beauty Rules" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Green Beauty Rules" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
M. M. Allen
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781508437178, $9.99, 168pp,

Synopsis: Darkness. Utter blackness. Was this why his mother had refused to let Jack unlock his father's old trunk? It had been two years since his dad had died, and all Jack could think about was examining whatever treasures were stored inside the beloved trunk. But when he finally lifted the lid, he didn't just fall in -- he fell through it into a pit of rattlesnakes! Trying to recall his mother's stories about "the Breath of All Good Things" (anything to shed light on his current situation) Jack wishes he'd paid better attention rather than mock the tales as childish myths -- and that he'd waited to enter the trunk with his sister, Lilly, so they could at least face this together. M. M. Allen brings to life the fantastical world of Wishapick, which is a land of courageous animals ruled by a cruel rattlesnake king who has condemned the villagers to live without light. Chosen as the reluctant hero to save the villagers, Jack must face terrifying creatures and overwhelming odds if he wants to help his new friends and return home himself.

Critique: An exceptionally well written and original entertainment for young readers, "Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk" is very highly recommended for personal, school, and community library children's fiction collections. It should be noted that there is a companion music CD, 'Wishapick', available for purchase or download from

Below the Water Line
Lisa Karlin
Centennial Publishers
PO Box 231102, New Orleans, LA 70123
9780996232708, $14.99, 376pp,

Synopsis: "Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina" is an intensely personal and moving memoir in which Lisa Karlin provides a gripping account of her family's hurricane evacuation experiences and all that followed in the decade after Hurricane Katrina. Her story begins in August 2005, when Lisa, her husband, thirteen-year-old daughter, eleven-year-old son, and two dogs evacuated New Orleans for what they thought would be a two-day "hurrication." Her day-by-day account of the weeks that follow vividly chronicles the unprecedented displacement of thousands of Americans, and on a personal level, describes how her family makes the trifecta of major life decisions: where to live, where to work, and where to enroll their children in school. With unflinching candor, Lisa Karlin provides a first-hand commentary on how everyday life has been impacted by Katrina's aftermath and how, a decade later, there are still lingering effects of one of the most devastating events in American history.

Critique: An inherently compelling read from beginning to end, "Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina" is a candid, informative, and exceptionally well written personal account arising out of one of the worst tragedies New Orleans ever experienced. Very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Below the Water Line" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Even You
Marilyn Oser
Mill City Press
9781634135467, $15.95, 270pp,

Synopsis: Impetuous is not a word you'd use to describe Claire Bramany. But when an accident in Brooklyn in 1995 takes the life of her lover, Jessie Friedman, Claire's world implodes. While cleaning out Jessie's desk, Claire finds journals that tell long-buried secrets of Jessie's western girlhood. Jessie's account of Tulsa in 1944 appears innocent and playful, at first. Jessie's days are peopled with quirky characters -- especially Uncle Jimmy, an honest-to-goodness hero back from war-torn Europe. He's Jessie's favorite, until he makes his move on his nine-year-old niece. No secrets. Secrets kill. This was the promise Claire and Jessie had made to each other. But Claire never heard of any Uncle Jimmy, much less any sexual violation. Shattered, yearning to reconnect with the Jessie she thought she knew, Claire heads out to Oklahoma. Are the journals true? If so, has Claire any other course than to avenge Jimmy's hideous crimes?

Critique: "Even You" by Marilyn Oser is an impressively crafted and compelling novel from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Even You" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Hello America: A Memoir
Mary Matuja
Two Harbors Press
322 First Avenue N, 5th floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781634135849, $14.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: Throughout this memoir that describes how a five-year-old girl could charm Nazi soldiers and then later experience the joy of winning scholarships, beauty pageants, and elected office, Mary Matuja's inner beauty will shine through and touch your heart. At the start of WWII young Mary lived with her grandparents in the village of Certizne, Czechoslovakia. She survived WWII by living in the forest amidst exploding bombs, freezing temperatures, and with little or no food. Through it all, her strength and resiliency remained unharmed. At age 10 she was sent to America to live with the mother she had never met. Mary adapted and adjusted, compiling notable achievements throughout her school career. After marriage, she began a life of public service as a councilwoman and member of many civic organizations, giving tirelessly to her community.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Hello America: A Memoir" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Hello America: A Memoir" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism
Bojana Kunst
Zero Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785350009, $25.95, 241pp,

Synopsis: The main affirmation of artistic practice must today happen through thinking about the conditions and the status of the artist's work. Only then can it be revealed that what is a part of the speculations of capital is not art itself, but mostly artistic life. In "Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism", philosopher, dramaturg and performance theoretician Bojana Kunst (a professor at the Institute for Applied Theater Studies in Justus Liebig University, Giessen, where she is leading an international master program in Choreography and Performance) deftly examines the recent changes in the labor of an artist and then addresses them from the perspective of performance.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Artist at Work: Proximity of Art and Capitalism" is exceptionally well written and will prove to be of immense interest to both scholars and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the role and condition of the artist in a capitalist society. A work of impeccable scholarship, "Artist at Work" is very highly recommended for professional, community, and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Artist at Work" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.59).

With Animal
Carol Guess & Kelly Magee
Black Lawrence Press
9781625579300, $15.95, 150pp,

Synopsis: Hybrid twins: one human, one horse. A man pregnant with a kangaroo, a woman raising a baby dragon. A twenty- first century Virgin Mary reimagined as a queer single mother giving birth in a petting zoo. "With Animal" is a collaborative short story collection in which Carol Guess and Kelly Magee magically and playfully subvert assumptions about gender, sexuality, parenting, and family. These lyrical fictions bare teeth and spare no claw. They'll leave you questioning the lines between human and animal, parent and child, love and dominion.

Critique: An impressive literary collaboration, "With Animal" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end and will prove to be of special interest to the LGBT community. A unique short story anthology, "Wild Animal" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Literary Fiction collections.

Childe Hassam: At Dusk: Boston Common at Twilight
Erica E. Hirshler
MFA Publications
c/o Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
9780878468379, $9.95, 76pp,

Synopsis: "Childe Hassam: At Dusk: Boston Common at Twilight" is a vivid account of one of Boston's best-loved paintings in which leading American art specialist Erica E. Hirshler illuminates the context of Childe Hassam's 1880s city scene. With its rosy rust tones, intimate familial vignette and quiet expanse of snow-laden park, today "At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight)" seems to encourage reflection and represent a decidedly old-fashioned city. Yet Hirshler reveals the ways in which the painting visually signaled the emerging modern city, from subtleties about women's place in the urban landscape to the uproarious clang of the streetcars that would have been heard on the busiest block in Boston. Enriched with reproductions of related paintings and archival illustrations, this evocative volume explores the countered conventions and bulldozed buildings behind the canvas's creation.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Childe Hassam: At Dusk: Boston Common at Twilight" is nicely illustrated throughout. Exceptionally researched with erudite and knowledgeably insightful, "Childe Hassam: At Dusk: Boston Common at Twilight" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library American Art History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Go Home Lake
Megs Beach
Second Story Press
20 Maud Street, Suite 401
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2M5
9781927583807, $19.95, 296pp,

Synopsis: In the late 1960s Penny is the youngest of four kids, known on her street as the girl with the mean brothers. She spends all year looking forward to her summers spent at Go Home Lake, where she passes the days in a soaked bathing suit, catching frogs, and getting her daily fill of fresh air. Yet Penny's summers are far from pleasant. Her father's weekend visits to the cottage are sporadic, and her brothers prey on her innocence in every way, while her mother offers little sympathy. But Penny holds onto a secret ambition - she's going to be a real cowboy. If only her dad would buy her that pony he's been promising each year. Told from the perspective of Penny looking back on those pivotal summers, Go Home Lake tells the story of a seemingly "normal" family. Megs Beach deftly balances a child's naivete with razor-sharp observations of a 1960s middle-class family and of a childhood that only felt wrong years later.

Critique: A terrifically entertaining read from beginning to end, "Go Home Lake" clearly showcases the originality and storytelling talents of author Megs Beach. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Go Home Lake" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.75).

Natural Relief for Adult ADHD
Stephanie Moulton Sarkis
New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781626251649, $16.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: For some people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), medication may not be the right answer, and for others, medication alone may not be enough. "Natural Relief for Adult ADHD: Complementary Strategies for Increasing Focus, Attention, and Motivation With or Without Medication" offers an accessible, research-based guide on the most effective non-medication treatments for ADHD. If you have ADHD, you may find it hard to stay focused on one thing and have trouble with time management and organization. You may also act on impulse often precipitating negative results. Whether you're in treatment, on medication, or are looking for alternative ways to get your symptoms under control, "Natural Relief for Adult ADHD" will provide you with sound, complementary strategies to increase your focus, get organized, and stay motivated.

"Natural Relief for Adult ADHD" covers issues as how to manage your ADHD; body awareness techniques to prevent sensory overstimulation common in ADHD; working memory training; massage, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic treatment; how food additives can affect ADHD symptoms, particularly certain pesticides; how to incorporate organic food into the diet while on a budget; and much, much more.

Critique: Stephanie Moulton Sarkis (an Adjunct Assistant Professor and a Clinical Trials Subinvestigator at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida) and draws upon her experience and expertise in offering proven-effective alternative treatments to get adults with ADHD under control and thereby taking back their lives. "Natural Relief for Adult ADHD" is a reliable, practical, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Health/Medicine reference collections in general, and ADHD supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Natural Relief for Adult ADHD" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Checked Out
Sharon St. George
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603812252, $15.95, 328pp,

Synopsis: When rodeo cowboy Cody O'Brien is found dead in his horse trailer, it appears that his horse, Game Boy, is the culprit. Aimee Machado, health sciences librarian at Timbergate Medical Center, has no reason to doubt the preliminary finding -- at first. Cody had been in the hospital awaiting an operation the night he died, but he checked himself out. Had he reason to believe his surgeon, Dr. Phyllis Poole, was incompetent? Or is his death related to his complex relationship with his family? It turns out his father is dying, and four people other than Cody stood to inherit: his young trophy wife Echo, his son James, his daughter Keely, and her fiance Tucker. How does Dr. Poole fit into all this? Her surgical outcomes have not been the best. Not to mention that Laurie Popejoy, TMC nurse and Poole's rival in the hospital's blues combo, disappeared the night of Cody's death. Aimee is highly motivated to investigate. She once had a crush on Cody's brother James, who has now set his sights on her. The missing nurse, Laurie, left Aimee a desperate phone message the night she disappeared. Moreover, Aimee's friend and co-worker Cleo has elicited her help to discredit Dr. Poole. Aimee is already confused romantically. Although it pains her, she is trying to keep Nick, the pilot she loves but does not trust, at arm's length. But his help proves too invaluable to refuse. Can Aimee ferret out the truth without losing her job and her life?

Critique: An exceptionally engaging mystery thriller from beginning to end, and the second title in Sharon St. George's outstanding 'Aimee Machado Mystery' series, "Checked Out" is the sequel to Sharon St. George's "Due for Discard" (9781603812238, $15.95 PB, $4.95 Kindle). A deftly crafted novel that well prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of mystery buffs that "Checked Out" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95).

The Memory Weaver
Jane Kirkpatrick
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800722326, $14.99, 352pp,

Synopsis Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother's grave--and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter's captivity. When Eliza is finally given her mother's diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage?

Critique: While a work of fiction, Jane Kirkpatrick's "The Memory Weaver" is based on historically true events. A deftly crafted and fully absorbing novel from beginning to end, "The Memory Weaver" is very strongly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition for community library Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Memory Weaver" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.54).

A Perfect Curse
Shereen Vedam
ImaJinn Books
c/o BelleBooks
PO Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781611946383, $14.95, 228pp,

Synopsis: Nevara Wood is desperate to change her life. Plagued by shifting sight, which skews her normal vision and shows her disturbing visions, she's always felt odd and unlovable. And she greatly wants to be loved-especially by Mark Dimas, the man she has hero-worshiped since the day he saved her life. Her only chance at happiness lies in breaking the curse that afflicts her-and all clues to the source of her torment point to a town in Southern Spain. Unfortunately, her every attempt to travel to that war-ravaged continent is impeded by the very man whose love she wants to win.

Mark Dimas Alvaro is the last in a line of wizards charged by his ancestor, a magical huntsman, to secretly protect Nevara's family. But Mark chafes at his role because it has cost him everyone he loves, most recently his beloved brother. He is certain that if Nevara would simply stay in England and not create any unnecessary magical waves, they could both survive for another generation. Instead, his stubborn charge's persistent investigation into her past lands Nevara in imminent danger. Mark instantly prepares to wage a magical war to protect the woman he has sworn to protect and has come to deeply love.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel of compelling complexity and riveting entertainment from beginning to end, "A Perfect Curse" is very highly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Perfect Curse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

The ALA Guide to Information Sources in Insurance, Risk Management, and Actuarial Science
Lucy Heckman
ALA Editions
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838912751, $70.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: The insurance industry is among the most highly regulated industries today, and literature on the field is a complex thicket of sources. "The ALA Guide to Information Sources in Insurance, Risk Management, and Actuarial Science" is a valuable, one-of-a-kind resource in the form of a comprehensive guide to locating and using information resources about the insurance industry. Pointing researchers, practitioners, faculty and students of business administration, law firms, and non-specialist general readers interested in researching the insurance industry to the most relevant information, each chapter contains an annotated list of specific print and digital sources, plus explanations on how to make best use of sometimes-forbidding technical materials. Included are company directories, almanacs, databases, websites, legal resources, and industry-specific guides that cover: All major lines of insurance, including property/casualty, life, health, and reinsurance; Social Insurance, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, and pensions; The insurance policy from the standpoint of practitioners, regulators, and consumers; Insurance law and regulations; All areas of risk management including financial, technical and intellectual property; Actuarial science and its current applications to financial engineering; and Archival and historical material. "The ALA Guide to Information Sources in Insurance, Risk Management, and Actuarial Science" includes an introduction defining risk management and describing its use in the insurance industry and the field of actuarial science.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is comprehensive and impressively well organized and presented, "The ALA Guide to Information Sources in Insurance, Risk Management, and Actuarial Science" is an essential and critically important addition to professional, community, corporate, governmental, and academic library reference collections.

Your Ultimate Success Plan
Tamara Jacobs
Career Press Inc.
12 Parish Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470
9781601633668, $15.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: Somewhere between self-help and self-promotion lies self-awareness and advancement. "Your Ultimate Success Plan: Stop Holding Yourself Back and Get Recognized, Rewarded and Promoted" by Tamara Jacobs (Founder and CEO of Tamara Jacobs Communications, Inc.) is a instruction guide that provides surprisingly easy-to-apply business strategies in an approachable, actionable, authentic way and encourages you to find your voice and realize your potential. The characters you will meet in each chapter of "Your Ultimate Success Plan" are quite relatable and include professional women and men plagued with the Cinderella complex, waiting patiently (and hopelessly) to be rescued; the insecure who subjugate their core identities to get others to like them; and the perennial complainers who merely want to vent, not solve. With principles based on awareness, forgiveness, strategic application, and follow-through, you can join the thousands of enlightened converts who have participated in Tamara's workshops and seminars for more than 25 years by reading (and applying) "Your Ultimate Success Plan".

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Your Ultimate Success Plan: Stop Holding Yourself Back and Get Recognized, Rewarded and Promoted" will prove to be an invaluable instructional guide and reference for anyone seeking to improve their position and prospects in today's highly competitive corporate environment. Of special note is the section on achieving promotion (Edge the Ledge). Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone and commentary, "Your Ultimate Success Plan" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Business Management reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Your Ultimate Success Plan" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Full Recovery
Brian McAlister
MacSimum Publishing Company
9780982394823 $19.95

Plenty of recovery-oriented books discuss the basics of how to get sober, but few take the next step: how to live a meaningful life once sobriety is achieved. One might think that this would be the easier part of the equation: actually, it's not, and Full Recovery demonstrates that in fact many 'recoveries' from substance abuse don't complete the process to achieve real resolution.

If this all sounds idealistic, be advised that author Brian McAlister has achieved extraordinary, real-life results from his Full Recovery Wellness Center in New Jersey, which holds a powerful record of long-term recovery from addictions largely because its programs focus on helping addicts with all aspects of their lives, from jobs and relationships to finances and fitness. Most similar-sounding programs focus on psychological insights and approaches and leave out some of the social factors that can differentiate a full recovery from one who is perpetually on the road to success without ever quite arriving at the goal.

Chapters offer a blend of psychological insight, philosophical and spiritual reflection, and specific tips on where the recovery process can bog down and what to do about it.

Thus, readers will find in Full Recovery discussions of such seemingly-disparate topics as how to handle and mitigate fears, how to question long-held beliefs for their ongoing effectiveness, how to use gratitude to shift one's reality and how to perceive and choose a life-affirming project to cement one's long-term success, and how to differentiate between solving problems and manipulating environment.

Each chapter offers another brick in the foundation leading to full recovery, and each chapter juxtaposes ideals with specifics from the author's experiences and those around him: "When I go home at night, I sit in my hot tub and totally relax. Nine times out of ten, the answer to my challenge reveals itself in that setting. How does that happen? I believe it's because when I am totally relaxed and at peace, my awareness expands. I am not talking to myself or keeping my own counsel. I am meditating and listening for the answer."

Also included are keys on how the author arrived at all this wisdom ("I had come to the conclusion that by following suggestions from sober people, I was staying sober, too. I began to wonder, then, whether the same process would work in other areas of my life, such as finances.") and how one concept or choice in one area of life (such as psychological insight) translates, often neatly, to other areas (such as financial security).

There's no magic key to Full Recovery; but its particular brand of magic lies in its ability to lead semi-recovered addicts down the road of creating connections between more positive choices, habits and perspectives and integrating them into an overall life-affirming program reinforcing lasting changes.

Want to break heroin addiction? Alcoholism? Traits that continually lead to poor choices? Full Recovery documents this process more clearly and completely than competing titles on the market and is a top recommendation for any who have begun the process and need to take the next step.

This One Thing
Damian Maher
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015911494
ISBN: 1514718944
ISBN-13: 9781514718940 $12.99,

Writings from gay authors aren't unusual. Analysis from psychologists isn't unique. But the combination ... now, here's something different... and in This One Thing, the marriage between the two stands out, melding personal and professional worlds into a novel that captures the experience of being gay in the modern world.

Here, Daniel's heart is unlocked in order to share his story and capture his life. The protagonist confesses his difficulty in overcoming the scars left by a dysfunctional family and 'letting in' people outside of his "secret world" - and thus readers have a rare opportunity to enter a seldom-seen world which reveals process of establishing an identity as a gay man who is in hiding no longer, and who seeks love like any other human being.

Journeys of self-awareness translate well to the novel format; perhaps because this first person story assumes an ethereal, intimate quality. It begins with childhood with the impossible decision of which divorcing parent to live with and moves slowly into the wider world of self-realization.

At every step, the protagonist successfully carries readers along for the ride, observing his world and its influences through a changing life that moves to Australia and back.

The sexual scenes are quite graphically described, but only to embed all experiences (including sex) with a 'you are there' feel. If it's a circumspect story that's desired, move on. Maher's purpose isn't to present experiences using distancing, dispassionate descriptions, but the physical and emotional aspects of the protagonist's evolving life include sexual experience in its most graphic (yet not vulgar) forms.

In a world where sex is equated with romance, the protagonist learns lessons not only about his own body and psyche, but about his quest for love in life, apart from family connections: "Outside of work, however, I felt miserable and worthless. I had the freedom to do anything I wanted, but I didn't know what to do, and I didn't have a partner with whom to share my life. I felt lonely, unattractive, and unhappy. I placed a number of ads for dates, without much success. I met some of the men who replied, but each time it was not meant to be. I thought that my standards might be too high, since one man was too feminine for me, another seemed intellectually to be somewhere else, and a third one was okay, but I was not physically attracted to him. Each time I met someone I was disappointed, which added to my feelings of hopelessness."

It's all about the magic of love and the growth of a gay man in a world where hidden prejudices and lives are a given. This One Thing deftly captures this journey in an absorbing read especially recommended for readers of gay fiction, but also to anyone who has ever sought love in a lonely and hostile world, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Jake Fischer Stories
Stewart Bird
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
1457538989, $12.97,

As with S. Bird's previous story, The Jake Fischer Stories is set in New York City and centers around Jewish culture (that's evident from the first paragraph): and what an atmospheric description it is: "My best friend, Stevie Rabinowitz, had come with me for my last ride. The #4 train pulled into the elevated platform at Mosholu Parkway as we ran to the first car and pressed our faces to the front glass. We saw the beautiful Bronx spread out before us as we barreled through each stop as if we were on our own magic carpet ride through the clouds."

And if 'beautiful' and 'Bronx' aren't words you usually find in the same line, it's because Bird celebrates his city in more ways than one, making The Jake Fischer Stories a love story on more than one level.

The essence of being Jewish is woven into nearly every line in The Jake Fischer Stories as the protagonist examines his heritage, world, and move away from his beloved Bronx. Even when it's far away, he remains connected by family and culture.

The Jake Fischer Stories succeeds in vividly painting Jewish culture and a young boy's move within and outside of it, creating a series of family and wider-world encounters that will successfully draw Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike.

Any reader with a pre-existing affection for New York will especially relish the ongoing descriptions of the City: "I loved the sounds in the Bronx. The sounds of the trains and the tracks. Steel on steel, clanking, rattling, groaning. The sounds of sneakers screeching. The smells of pizza. Kids urinating in the streets. I felt at home."

This is one of the big attractions of The Jake Fischer Stories - a sense of place - and even as the protagonist moves in an ever-widening circle away from his heartland, he finds within him the sense of place and culture that keeps him grounded as he faces a journey to Israel, the threat of the Vietnam War, the rise of civil rights in America, and his own evolving political and social involvements.

As he moves from childhood to young adulthood and well into his adult years, readers follow not only the path of his life and awakenings, but the evolution of his perceptions - and The Jake Fischer Stories becomes ever clearer. It's not a romance per say, and it's not a love story in the sense of a genre read: it's a life story, and the love and heartache inherent in following a life well lived is also a story of failure and success.

In the process of describing life cycles and family and cultural connections, The Jake Fischer Stories succeeds in becoming more than the sum of romance or love - it's a story of strategies developed for handling life and it's a saga of one man's determination to break the cycle of despair through love.

Be forewarned: The Jake Fischer Stories is not for romance readers, but for followers of life stories and how connections are made and broken in the process of a life well lived. And therein lies its strength.

From Under the Snow
David Beck
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014918792
ISBN: 1502893487
ISBN 13: 9781502893482 $14.75

Teen Jude is a preacher's son from a small Minnesota town facing another winter without much change, until his coach gives him two free tickets to the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, California. Suddenly, he has the opportunity to realize there's not only a wider world out there; but one he might be able to visit and participate in - and so begins the avalanche of experiences that mark his transition into the adult world in From Under the Snow.

Picture a Catcher in the Rye with a Kerouac-like road trip of psychological and sexual discovery in 1961 as Jude and his friend, Stick, undertake a hitchhiking journey on Route 66, only to find that the romance of the road is offset by the realities of its trials and tribulations, turning the trip into a test of their friendship and what they value as individuals.

As Jude and his friend encounter a wide variety of people and situations, from a slick evangelical fundamentalist to a mind-expanding Navajo peyote ceremony, the story draws connections between circumstance, choices, and their lasting ramifications. Will Jude betray his friend Stick under pressure from a debauched truck driver and have sex with a prostitute? Will Jude admit to the truth of the trip or let his friend's version prevail?

From Under the Snow is a coming-of-age novel, in which the protagonist's encounters test his small-town provincial upbringing, his religious beliefs, and much of what Jude took for granted in the world. The chapter headings offer clear prefaces to content: If he doesn't act he ceases to exist. Homosexuality is a sin and I think it's illegal here too. Do you think snakes can talk?

The novel will be released for sale on November 1st through and is currently available through the book's website.

Daniela I. Norris
Roundfire Books
9781785351976, $16.95
Publication date: January 2016

Think Cloud Atlas, a classic story of rebirth, many lives, and reincarnation on a level that involves protagonists in other lives - but take it a step further in Recognitions, the first novel in a trilogy, which presents a woman under hypnosis who sometimes encounters a French girl on the cusp of marriage and sometimes an African shaman facing a village's struggles with illness and slavery.

Then take these diverse lives and weave them together in the story of a modern-day woman, Amelia (who must deal with these other lives and her own daily challenges, and who faces her own struggle to understand the connections and messages that lie in her dreams and hypnotic state), and you have an emotionally-charged saga filled with three threads that weave back to one tapestry of wonder.

Under a different hand, this saga of birth, death, and afterlife could have easily proved confusing: it's no simple matter to create three disparate, very different lives, and blend them together with purpose and discovery; no easy venture to bring each of these pieces to life and then meld them into one.

It's also satisfying to note that the protagonist doesn't just skip into acceptance of these threads and their impact on her life; she's pulled in reluctantly, and initially believes these results from hypnotherapy and dream states to be 'craziness'. She's no new age believer: she's a wife, mother, and has a life of her own: "I hardly have time to explore all sorts of strange mind-body-spirit connections or whatever they call them these days."

But hers is a life destined to transform (though her husband's departure has already started the process of vast changes) in unexpected ways, and the gift of this approach lies in how past, present, and future worlds not only connect, but collide.

There are many passages that support all kinds of emotional connections and disconnects, as well: "But I resolved to call Don later and tell him that there's something going on with our daughter. I'll call him even if talking to him will make me feel emotional, anxious, and envious of the quick fix he'd found in his life. Even if it would make me feel betrayed and confused by my feelings towards him - how his cynicism annoyed me for years, how I couldn't stand his macho jokes anymore and how relieved I had first felt when we decided to separate. We said we'd remain friends, for the kids' sakes. We said we'd see how it would go if we just parted amicably for a while, and then take it from there."

As Amelia's life changes and as her novel-writing is spiced by her dream states, she finds the courage to not only probe these events, but understand and incorporate them into her own world: "I needed to visit this place. This would help me understand more about Adele's world, it would be research, not some craziness destined to satisfy my sudden and illogical fascination with past lives, I said to myself."

The result (much like Cloud Atlas's ability to make readers think far past its last page) is a story that is quietly compelling: a moving saga highly recommended for any reader interested in predetermination, past lives, and how three disparate worlds interlace.

The Raven Room
Ana Medeiros
Diversion Books
9781626817777, $14.99

In the world of kinky sexual exploration, one place stands out to the protagonists in The Raven Room: a place where no holds are barred, where even the most deadly of urges can be satisfied, and where Julian introduces Meredith's willing body to dangerous pleasures (while undercover reporter Meredith is secretly amassing ammunition to expose the most secret of sexual enclaves in Chicago's underworld.)

It's the kind of relationship that is not only doomed to failure; but doomed to explode - and The Raven Room charts this fine line between reporter, a covert police investigation, and sexual desire fulfilled at its outer limits of acceptable behavior.

Perhaps predictably, Meredith's involvement with Julian crosses professional boundaries and involves her in a personal exploration that challenges her ideals and sexuality. Less predictable are the connections drawn between people outside of the exclusive club: connections that come to light in unusual ways: "As soon as he had started to speak, Julian knew Alana could understand him. Nothing on her body changed. She remained comfortably seated, her body leaning toward the oversized couch pillows. But her eyes reacted to his words. Her wide gaze, full of longing, drew him in. For the first time since he met her, it was like he was looking at the real Alana, the person he saw at the club. No lies. No hidden truths. No questions left unanswered. No persistent doubts. Just the two of them. And his reaction to her was the same - Julian felt connected."

On the face of it, The Raven Room would seem to proffer a cut-and-dried investigative mystery; but to call it such would be to do it a disservice. No pat or easy genre read, The Raven Room is really about the evolution of relationships, boundaries, and choices; and with Ana Medeiros providing plenty of insight into the complexities surrounding all three arenas, there's not only plenty of room for depth and detail in a novel that discusses control and domination; there's room for much more (thus, the fact that The Raven Room is part of a trilogy).

Readers who enjoy complex stories with strong characterization and psychological depth will find The Raven Room a satisfyingly story of emotional turbulence which ends in a cliff-hanger, setting the stage for the next book.

Bonds of Love & Blood
Marylee MacDonald
Summertime Publications Inc.
9781940333083, $16.99,

Bonds of Love & Blood provides a compelling short story collection that weaves together disparate lives in many different places and moves across emotional landscapes of connection and alienation alike in the process of exploring the bonds that bind and caress.

Twelve stories center on various forms and aspects of love and their transitional powers: each protagonist faces something different, reacts in a singular manner, and ultimately changes enough to realize either a clearer purpose in life or a better path.

In one example, 'The Pancho Villa Coin', a troubled young girl struggles with the impact of her father's alcoholism and her own helplessness to control her fate and world. In another, a wanderer finds his way through the world in an unexpected manner.

It's satisfying to see a set of stories linked around a common theme, then stretched as far as possible to gain the most from that theme. Under MacDonald's hand, the well-crafted, succinct tales spin and dance - seemingly directionless in the wind of choice and circumstance, but ultimately filled with revelation and connections.

The essence of what makes these short stories revealing (and an art unto themselves) is MacDonald's ability to build new insights from each disparate life. And thus mothers, fathers, wanderers and travelers in life, and even those isolated by weather or poverty all come together through relationships that ultimately transform them.

Don't expect to meet psyches elevated by perfect perceptions; and most of all, don't expect gentle sagas of self-discovery. Bonds of Love & Blood teeters on the gritty edge of complexity without going overboard and its very real protagonists are charged with finding their own, often difficult paths. By supercharging its characters with very believable choices, readers walk the streets, farms, and countries of each of these twelve individuals and their circles and will find these very different journeys engrossing.

Bloody Truth
John J. Davis
Simon & Winter Inc.
9780990314424, $9.99

Bloody Truth opens with a bang: a Quonset hut explodes and the first-person narrator, Ron Granger, is injured but lucky to be alive and surrounded by family who will help him. Immediately readers are involved in the story line and the question of what is really happening; and as events unfold, it becomes evident that the setting is not Vietnam but another dangerous place where the protagonists see their covert tactics and mistakes edging the world into war.

Bloody Truth is intrigue, thriller, espionage and counterintelligence at its best, bound up by family interactions and relationships unusual in a genre that typically features only a lone wolf or two at the helm of disaster. It pits three individuals against an unknown enemy, it centers upon a power struggle for the world's data, and it involves secret agents operating on a different level than thrillers usually present.

Multiagency forces, uncertain cease fires, computer hackers, and agents dropped in the middle of nowhere make for a tense, gripping story line that excels in unexpected twists and turns, political intrigue, and vivid action.

Bloody Truth will find a welcoming home in any reader looking for its protagonists to be more connected and more vividly drawn than most in the thriller genre.

A Different Color
K.C. Taylor
YIREAD Publishing
P.O. Box 33248, Indianapolis, IN 46203
9780972854917, $9.99,

A Different Color is directed to young adults and 'high/low' readers and presents the story of a young man who has relished his independence from his family since college days, but is now returning home to face uncertain family and friendship changes. Recommended for mature young adults who find reading challenging and plots typically too complex to thoroughly enjoy, A Different Color provides a story of revenge, street culture, prison encounters, and more; and is more absorbing than many reads about urban experience.

His attempts to reconnect with his family fall short ("D.L.'s desperate attempt to reach his little brother failed, and Mike was not going to get back the last two hours of his life."), once again - but then everything changes, forcing him to face an out-of-control situation.

From jails and detective work to broken families and hearts, A Different Color captures the realistic world of streetwise hearts and minds and includes dialogue and approaches that are emotionally compelling. These elements make for a read accessible to those who normally struggle with unrealistic protagonists and mainstream middle class American concerns.
This was read as a manuscript-in-progress with the usual need for better editing and polish: this disclaimer aside, A Different Color will only take a little more work to become a gripping saga of neighborhood gang violence and one family's struggles to not only survive, but to keep the faith.

The Victor's Heritage
Anthony Caplan
Hope Mountain Press
810 Ray Road, Henniker, NH 03242
9780981516653, $9.99 Paperback; $3.41 eBook

The Victor's Heritage is Book Two of 'The Jonah Trilogy' and rests upon the spunky personality of teen Corrag, who is on track to receive the Augment brain implant that will connect her to the Cloud and thus to the knowledge base of the world.

But this goal about to be derailed, thanks to her association with a boy who is a veteran of war - and who offers quite a different perspective of their world than the one she's been raised with.

In 2045, the U.S. is divided into two very different countries. Within these nations lie the seeds of two competing political and social ideologies (much as is happening today). And when one special person 'crosses the border' between worlds and faces isolation, abandonment, and trials, this makes for a powerful read, indeed.

The Victor's Heritage, being part of a trilogy, enhances the setting provided in Book One, Savior; but while readers ideally should read the first, such is not a requirement to arrive late on the scene with its sequel. Through the vision and perceptions of Corrag, this world springs immediately to life with all its potentials for love, change, and devastation.

The Victor's Heritage is especially recommended for mature teens to young adults - particularly for those inclined to enjoy dystopian stories of the future, who will appreciate a vivid turn of events as Corrag's initial acceptance of her future turns into questions with terrible answers. The connections between family and friends are especially well drawn and lend an immediacy and excitement to the plot, which is powered by and packed with emotional revelations and swift action.

Silver, Lead and Dead
James Garmisch
4900 LaCross Rd.
North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500522179, $16.00 Paperback

Plenty of books about drug cartels, overseas politics and social issues, and Mexican experiences in particular focus on the underworld and travels through it; but few adopt the force and perspective of Silver, Lead and Dead, which portrays a Mexico on the verge of collapse and a narcotics agent forced to consider his own past when he embarks on a dangerous mission involving a kidnapped family only to find himself on the wrong side of a ransom effort gone awry.

Silver, Lead and Dead is a fast-paced action thriller that adopts the tried-and-tested manner of some of the biggest action authors and then takes events a step further as the plot becomes steeped in the protagonist's own murky past and questionable life choices.

With rival gangs, international cartels, children at risk, and cat-and-mouse games, the story line is simply nonstop, which will delight genre readers who like their action hot, heavy, and often unpredictable. The protagonist's ability to craft and play a game on par with the most dangerous of adversaries makes for a plot packed with three-sixty-degree changes throughout: "He parked in a different spot this time, facing the bus stop and road. He was helpless now, and if they double-crossed him, at least he knew where to go to find them." And while readers often know where events are heading, conversely there's also a twist added to keep them guessing.

One doesn't expect humor to enter this kind of mix, but the fact that it appears at odd intervals and then vanishes only adds to the delight of a story line that excels in not just describing hot and heavy action, but in placing readers into the hearts, minds, and bodies of the characters: "The bullets felt like hot pokers as they hit his vest and sent waves of pain into his abdomen."

From the legacy of a drug dealer and his interactions with multi-billion-dollar interests to a side of Mexico not usually revealed in more casual dips into the country, Silver, Lead and Dead is not just heart-stopping thriller action at its best: it holds social, political, and law enforcement insights throughout and weaves the lives of its characters into the overall death throes of a system at odds with life itself.

Add an insanely fast pace and a logical progression of events that succeeds in injecting its own elements of unpredictability and you have a thriller that is on par with the best blockbusters on the market, holding the dual ability of permeating Mexico's cultural and social cloak of confusion to create not just a believable saga, but one that offers up food for thought on Mexico's complex world.

The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More: A Great Wharf Novel
Meredith Marple
Cinder Path Press
ISBN: 9780996732406, $6.99 eBook
ISBN: 9780996732413, $14.99 pbk

Amazon Author Page:

Protagonists who tackle life's uncertainties often project uncommon courage and a feisty attitude - but not Mallory Cooper, who has chosen to hide out in the small town of Great Wharf, Maine because of her agoraphobia and loss and because there she can snuggle with her soul mate and life-long anchor, husband Dwight, and watch the world go by safely, via television.

Although the major events in her homebound life revolve around vivid descriptions such as the perils of housecleaning ("I washed under the counter edges, and I dusted everything, including the leaves on the fern. I even risked life and limb on the stepladder to dust the overhead light. Little did you know while you were chatting with tourists at the trolley museum that your wife was this close to a fatal fall."), all this is about to change when she leaves the house and walks right into a world replete with more dangers than house dust.

As in many a story, the proof of a superior production lies not so much in the plot itself, but in the personalities of the protagonists - and its here that Meredith Marple shines. From the compelling probes of the town gossip to how a once-joyful mother becomes trapped at home and must force herself to blossom anew, The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More is replete with insights. Mallory's underlying rationales for seeking out safety after a seemingly-full life, her dip into therapy ("Think back now to that upsetting dream you told me about, the one where you were buried alive and no one would know where you were. I think these things are related. I think your fear in both situations relates to a feeling of never having existed in your parents' eyes, especially your mother's eyes."), her confrontations with new ideas, possibilities, and directions, and the influence of therapy on her choices and ability to act on these new options all weave into the quietly-compelling saga of one woman's transition.

Don't expect nonstop action and vivid drama, here: The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More is more on the level of the bucolic English novel that depicts loving relationships challenged by life's ups and downs. As Mallory finds new purpose and new strength to challenge threats to this fragile persona ("...we go along living our everyday lives, doing so many of the same things every day, and, as often as not, with accidental deaths anyway, it's those very things that may do us in. I guess what I'm trying to point out is that I hope you're not going to add fear of stairs to your list of things to be worried about."), readers follow her uncertain steps into a realm where even murder is not an impossibility.

Yes, it's ultimately a murder mystery - but unlike many genre reads, there's nothing 'formula' about The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More. Mallory and Dwight's evolving life is just as compelling (and even more deeply explored) than the murder scene itself - and that's what keeps its story line refreshing, compelling, and ultimately a winning standout from many genre peers.

A Cold and Distant Place
Bill Mesce, Jr.
Endeavour Press
No ISBN, $3.99 on Kindle
Prepublication Manuscript: ETA October 2015

It's November 1944, and Private First Class Raymond C. Peck is guarding a wireless device and enduring a mind-blasting shelling that carries with it the possibility of instant death or mutilation at every moment. He's camped out in the hell that is World War II, and his battlefield experiences will not just shape his life, but place him and his team in a scenario that will bring them not to heaven or hell, but to the courtroom, facing decisions and their ultimate consequences.

One might choose A Cold and Distant Place expecting a military saga alone; but its battlefield introduction only serves to provide the background setting for what evolves to be more than the story of one small event in a larger war.

Readers pursuing A Cold and Distant Place will find a host of protagonists and a military situation that changes from battle conditions to courtrooms, military investigations, unwinnable defenses, and strategies that make battle plans and decisions made in the field look straightforward in comparison.

From castles and courtrooms to explosive (literally) testimonies that involve the kind of recollections that pit privates against officers and raise questions of authority, ethics, and impossible promises and broken lives, the interactions between Peck, Dominick Sisto, and the aftermath of battle come to a head.

Whether struggling for survival on the battlefield, facing a stint in military prison, or fighting in some of the key battles of World War II, A Cold and Distant Place excels in bringing to life both experiences and underlying motivations of soldiers who are left with haunting memories, obligations, and the uncertain gifts of hindsight.

How does one move from the memories of one of the biggest wars in mankind's history to the kinds of resolution that allow for a return to civilian life and the trappings of normalcy? What is the real legacy of comrades left with memories and uncertain associations? Amid powerful descriptions of the subtler nuances of place and time ("The sun was a lowering ember, and the fading, amber light gave the castle a melancholic, forgotten look."), mind-numbing events and battle hell, and the ultimate costs of decisions lies a sweeping, epic saga recommended not for light followers of strategic military actions, but for readers who appreciate in-depth, world-changing stories of matters of the military heart and mind.

No simple or casual read, A Cold and Distant Place leaves the follower with more than a taste for what war truly leaves behind, and is recommended reading for fans of psychological military novels.

Mary Jane Capps
DreamFusion Press, LLC
9780985813413, $14.95

Teen Stella is busy with the usual pursuits: changing friendships, wearing too much makeup, and developing feelings for a cute boy. She's also busy with unusual challenges: the death of a beloved grandmother who also happened to be a witch, her own blossoming prophetic dreams, and threats from ghosts, religious mothers and humans alike.

While trying to use Tarot to reconnect with her dead grandmother and facing both heartbreak and broken magic, Stella finds her changed world anything but acceptable and sets about making things right - with unexpected consequences and not a few chuckles from the reader.

Crescent is teen supernatural fiction at its best: the first-person descriptions perfectly capture Stella's impressions of her life and the major forces influencing her world, while dialogue and insights are delivered with the artistry and craft of a writer who knows how teens think: "I'm still trying to play it cool and not come across as too ecstatic that we're being haunted and talking about ghosts. After this, we're truly best friends."

Stella's very precise, astute perceptions aren't just those of other worlds - they're those of other lives: "She doesn't want to consider the very real possibility that Beatrice's crap mother was so intent on disowning her, that she even had a family tree put together without including her own if she never existed."

Perhaps this is one reason why Crescent flows so easily, feels so realistic, and reads so well: its compelling, candid character remains firmly in charge of herself and her life - even when she thinks she isn't. All these elements make Crescent's sinuous world a top recommendation for teen readers who like precise dialogue and supernatural puzzlers presented with no light hand when it comes to social commentary, insights on fitting in (or not), and a teen's investigation of family, friends, and self.

Women on the Brink: Stories
G. Elizabeth Kretchmer
9781513702353, $18.95 print, $4.99 ebook

If there's one unifying link to the short stories in G. Elizabeth Kretchmer's Women on the Brink: Stories, this lies in its title: certainly age isn't the defining factor, as the protagonists in each story come from all ages and all walks of life.

Within the larger theme of change comes a collection that addresses how women escape their lives, patterns, and circumstances to move forward and realize their dreams and their true selves.

Thus, there are stories as diverse as that involving one woman's turn-around from her sanguine life ("I LAY SPRAWLED across my new king--sized Ralph Lauren duvet - another gift from Hugh - trying to figure out why Sylvia Plath chose the oven and Virginia Woolf decided to drown, and also where on earth Charlotte Perkins Gilman even found chloroform. Meanwhile, the phone rang: more pleas for money. I liked giving my husband's money away."). The process of her growth as she fields a nasty email from her younger sister commenting on her social status and her inclination to send unwanted poetry presents a piece which captures important reflections on the ties between status and money ("That's the trouble with such a big house: You can't even say a proper goodbye.").

Another example is 'Running with Ghosts', the saga of a teen who struggles with an 'evil stepmother' who is faced with the unsavory prospect of living with an elderly step-great-grandmother for the summer. Sierra's reflections ("The problem with being a teenager is that you don't get any respect. And you don't have any control over your life. And you're treated like dog shit.") and her definition of 'slavery' change when she walks out of her familiar world.

With each story adopting such a different perspective, it's fair to say that Women on the Brink: Stories creates a series of evolutionary vignettes that offer glimpses into the perceptions, motivations, and influences on lasting life changes. Each woman takes what she is given in life and moves forward, interacting with others from different lives and perspectives and escaping death, opposing forces, and limiting conditions alike.

The result is a multi-faceted short story collection especially recommended for women who want thought-provoking, literary, accessible pieces that will stay fresh and impressionable long after the first reading.

Portraits from the Revolution
Rob Couteau
Dominantstar LLC
P. O. Box 1246, New Paltz, NY 12561
9780996688802 $TBA ebook
9780996688826 $19.95 print

Most American readers will harbor a prior, casual familiarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 based on newspaper headlines and events of the times; but for a more in-depth survey of the philosophies, approaches, and concerns of the protests, "Portraits from the Revolution: Interviews with the Protestors from Occupy Wall Street, 30 September - 8 October 2011" is the item of choice, offering unprecedented depth and detail on the history and lasting impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Rob Couteau conducted a series of interviews with movement leaders; and while one might think the contents of these pieces would have been reported by the media - they were not. It's also important to note that Portraits from the Revolution remains the only in-depth text interview of participants that is available: so if readers wish to gain more than a casual news report's insights, Portraits from the Revolution is the item of choice.

Chapters explore not just each individual's actions, but their backgrounds, reasons for participating in Occupy Wall Street, and their experiences, and offers criticism of media reporting of the movement's history, intentions, and approaches.

From how participants decided to react to violent antagonism against the Occupy movement to the social and political ramifications of not just Occupy but the elements it opposed, these interviews capture participants from all walks of life, from teens to full-time workers, and turns the newspaper reports into a series of personal vignettes about Occupy's deeper meaning.

Any who would better understand the events and the meaning behind news reports must turn to Portraits from the Revolution for a clearer vision of the 'why and how' of the times.

The Satellite Dragon
Oblap Mejia
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Prepublication Manuscript: ETA Fall 2015

It's a clear and sunny morning; but despite its brilliance, all does not feel right: a group of friends are haunted by a feeling of being watched, and the young adults who walk to a deli in the quiet town are about to find their lives changed.

The first thing to note about The Satellite Dragon is its attention to surreal description and settings: a device nearly poetic in its usage, and eerily compelling: "Sometimes the small chandeliers in the apartment south of Western Street would shake and reflect small colorful spots on the wall from the sun. The sound of manned airplanes hurrying through the sky, flying north, would set off signs of great enthusiasm. The shadows from the planes during the weekends, he remembered, would sometimes darken the street path and create a loud and zesty blare on the clouds." While some might say Oblap Mejia's choice of nouns is unexpected at points, this only serves to heighten tension and makes readers stop and think about how these unusual words affect the novel's overall feel by injecting it with underlying tension.

Secondly, The Satellite Dragon excels in creating a wide range of protagonists, expanding its settings from small town to Hollywood and beyond. Protagonists handle videos, challenging (but limited) jobs, sex, smartphones, new technology and more; and as these facets steep into and become their lives, readers are ever drawn into the role of observer of the building and dissolving of these surreal worlds: "There was a mysterious-looking man with an evil look on his face. He was a tired man and had one finger on his lips. He held a smartphone and began to dial an outgoing call. He lived in the abandoned cemetery for free and would wear a dark-colored tunic and ask people across the street for change. He would ask people to look directly into his camera phone so that he would get an idea or make his next plan of survival."

As evolving strategic intelligence-gathering winds its tendrils into their lives through unexpected routes and electronic gadgets, the true purposes and insidious intentions of forces far beyond individual pursuits becomes evident, embedding The Satellite Dragon with an increasing sense of political and social change and the challenges of navigating a world superimposed with satellite capabilities that destroy freedom and turn voting rights into a farce.

Against this backdrop, lives begun together evolve into something more. With its chilling scenarios and realistic portraits of young adults captivated by devices and the impersonal routines of video and communications that distance emotion from reality, The Satellite Dragon offers up a compelling saga that will appeal to a wide audience, from mature teens well into adult circles, by creating a slow-building, image-injected and riveting saga that adds stunning social commentary into its coming-of-age story.

Aloha Kahuna Soul
Rick Pruett
RhythMantra Publishing Inc.
9780578141992, $14.99,

A young man awakens in a Hawaiian hospital after surviving a shark attack - but there's more going on here than a surfer's encounter with a shark: Alika Kealoha is about to discover that one of the touchstones of his life is changing as he's tasked with a mystery involving his father, a puzzling Hawaiian priest, and a secret protected and passed down through the centuries.

Rick Pruett's depiction of a tropical paradise gone awry is precise and opens with an ethereal description of this world and Alika's place in it ("The ocean is my touchstone. When I surf, I regenerate electromagnetic energy in my own system.

That's what I was thinking about when I paddled out to the liquid playground this morning."), then traces the progress of its downfall.

The plot is steeped in the smells, senses, and culture of Hawaii which creates not just authenticity, but a rare sense of place designed to immerse even readers unfamiliar with Hawaiian atmosphere. Alika's quest leads him from familiar Hawaiian settings to the unfamiliar world of gene-altering sociopaths in a pursuit that leads Alika to question his motivations, methods, and the foundations of his belief system: "I had always helped people, old women, children, whoever was in need. It was part of the legacy left to me by my mother. What would she think of my recent actions? She was full of compassion and forgiveness."

Dreams and disappearances, legacies lost, and a personal quest to explore cultural roots: all these meld with a mystery that is both personal and social in nature, exploring the pulse and life that is Hawaii within a riveting page-turner that proves hard to put down, making for a special recommendation for both general-interest mystery readers and those who hold a special affection for Hawaii.

Lady of the Lake
Jennifer Wherrett
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
ISBN (softcover): 9781483621708, $42.79
ISBN (eBook): 9781483621722, $4.27

The Roman empire is crumbling, leaving the British Isles free of their influence - but novice priestess Niniane, sheltered in the temple, has had little to do with politics. All this is about to change when she leaves her sheltered life, encounters a Roman commander, and learns the true nature of her heritage and the rumors that have surrounded it.

Lady of the Lake is a top recommendation for fantasy readers who have loved Marian Zimmer Bradley's 'Avalon' series and who like fantasy novels along those lines. Because Jennifer Wherrett has enveloped her character in myths and legends quasi-familiar to the general reader and because of her attention to detail in painting a novice's struggles with her emerging powers and a changing social order, the duality of events assumes a vivid, realistic immediacy holding the power to reach out and grab readers even if they have no prior familiarity with or interest in Arthurian legend.

More so than similar fantasies, Wherett's focus on building a transformative situation where her character evolves as much as the world around her makes for a compelling, riveting saga that's hard to put down and strengthened by Niniane's personality and struggles.

From the inner circle of priestesses to a child's predetermined path and her equal determination to steer its uncertain course, "Ye canno' fight destiny 'n win" is just one of the ongoing sayings influencing Niniane's life and times. Charged with extraordinary duties and an equally extraordinary life, Niniane faces challenges few others of her ilk can field: " transcend, Niniane, you have to leave that place of safety within, and that always has physical expression. You have to go beyond anything and everything you've known, especially of yourself."

What is destiny and predetermination, and how do one's choices change or fit into that path? Lady of the Lake is simply exquisite in its approach to transformative events in one girl's life and world, and is especially recommended for fantasy readers of Arthurian legend seeking something different and more well-rounded, multi-faceted and complex than many of its competitors.

Binge Crazy
Natalie Gold
Arrow Publications
9781934675984, $7.99 USD ebook
9781934675991, $17.99 USD pbk

From its captivating and unusual cover depicting delicious foods (from doughnuts to pizza) dangling on meat hooks to its unusual vantage point (from a psychotherapist's chair), it's evident that Binge Crazy: A Psychotherapist's Memoir of Food Addiction, Mental Illness, Obesity and Recovery excels not in the usual survivor's perspective, but comes from a therapist's astute observations.

Crack the cover of Binge Crazy to discover that there is more than autobiography, here: and given that eating disorders are notoriously difficult to address and extremely tenacious, it's refreshing to see a set of insights about which approaches do and don't work in the treatment process.

Registered Psychotherapist Natalie Gold is no stranger to the experience, herself: she spent years struggling with binge eating and weaves her autobiography into the wider story of how she not only emerged victorious from a potentially fatal disorder, but created an effective recovery approach for others, as well.

By the time she was twenty-one she 'escaped' her life and self-destructive actions by entering a mental hospital. Decades later she's back to reveal her difficult path to recovery and outline the programs and routines that truly made a difference for her.

Binge Crazy is highly recommended for any who struggle with obesity or other eating disorders, and offers concrete ideas for addressing a problem that many similar books can only document. Its blend of autobiography and insights wraps all this in a cloak of personal experience that invites both binge eaters and their loved ones to read, relate, and understand the confusion surrounding losing weight, self-image, and family interactions.

Harm's Way
Bobbie Cole Meyer
Arrow Publications
9781934675687 $4.99 ebook
9781934675946 $13.99 pbk

Imagine a strong female investigator who specializes in finding people in hiding. Imagine being hired by a sexy motorcycle dude who searches for a missing woman and her child - and who is willing to pay dearly for the truth. Wouldn't you be suspicious? Wouldn't you sense that perhaps something else was going on - something that could point to a dangerous stalker? And what if you fell in love with such a client?

These are just some of the themes blazing through Harm's Way, a romance novel centering around a powerful man named Harm and a feisty, love-resistant female investigator who can't just take his money and run with the job.

From the beginning, the sense of both attraction and uncertainty between the two is powerful. Each harbors suspicions about the other and each tempers their initial instinctive attraction with a sense of self-preservation that keeps them at arms' distance - for a while.

As events unfold and McKay finds herself drawn into her client's complex personal life, professional and personal barriers on both sides break down and the anticipated romance blossoms in the face of revelations that will change both their lives.

On the face of it, Harm's Way is romance with a healthy dose of intrigue; but look beneath its surface of simmering, evolving passion and you'll also uncover a detective story that is an equally powerful force, driving events into satisfyingly unpredictable avenues.

From its sultry cover announcing that this adds to a 'Men of Passion' series to its duality in focusing on the very different perspectives of two individuals, Harm's Way takes the devices of romance and intrigue a step further by marrying the best elements of both genres into a hard-hitting (and, yes, steamy) romance that neatly switches between both protagonists' perspectives to create a satisfying build-up of tension: "Harm felt his heart rate increase, too. His thoughts raced toward the inevitable. This beautiful room and that enormous, welcoming bed filled his mind with visions of how it would be between them when there was nothing between them but lustful passion. Nothing keeping them apart."

Romance genre readers should be aware that the investigative part of the story is just as enthralling and immediate as the blossoming romance, and will thus find Harm's Way a more complex standout than the usual casual story of erotic and emotional connections.

Paul Revealed: Facts that Father Never Told You
Steve Herman
Encounter Press
P.O. Box 444, Bernardsville, NJ 07924
9780996618847 $24.95 print
9780996618830 $9.95 ebook

Paul Revealed: Facts that Father Never Told You is a study recommended for readers who want an in-depth biographical and spiritual analysis of the important role Paul played in Biblical affairs, and provides a coverage both scholarly and accessible as it reveals not only the extent of Paul's life, times, and influence, but lesser-known facts about his impact on Jesus and the world.

It should be noted that Paul Revealed assumes the reader holds some familiarity with the Bible and Paul's background and importance (something most Christians already possess) and so takes matters from there, pointing out differences between Jesus and Paul's Christ and how they developed and diverged.

Paul Revealed also will raise some controversy in that it focuses on facts that are often thought-provoking challenges to traditional viewpoints of both Paul and Jesus; so Christian readers who don't wish to reconsider the boundaries of faith and fact might wish to look elsewhere. There's nothing pat, predictable, or status quo in the approach of Paul Revealed, which intends to both modify and clarify points of confusion in traditional analyses of Paul and Christ. While it may be typical for Biblical scholars to choose faith over fact, Herman's approach is quite the opposite - and will ruffle not a few faithful feathers in the process.

Herman provides evidence that Paul's letters, travels, and Roman housing were quite expensive, while his potential earnings from making tents was quite limited. This contradicts traditional claims that Paul supported his mission from his workshop. Herman also documents how Paul's version of Christ's teachings conflicted with Jesus' own words. Be forewarned: Paul Revealed pulls no punches in the process of analysis - and Christian scholars will be delighted in Herman's intricate outlines of contradictions and their interpretation.

Of course, such research of necessity supports itself through Biblical quotes and passages; so readers can expect not speculation and theory but specific references to Biblical events and Paul's own writings which, when paired with Herman's observations and historical research, neatly outline the many conflicts with traditional views: "Paul said that when Christ returns, "when he hands over the kingdom to God the father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet" (1 Cor. 15:24-25). That is, shortly before Paul told the Romans that rulers were divine representatives, he told the Corinthians that they were God's enemies. On both occasions, he claimed divine inspiration."

Where facts need support, Herman turns to both Biblical inconsistencies and quotes and his own research and analysis: "Shortly after the Apostolic Council, Paul left Antioch and went out on his own. Luke and Paul invented different stories to explain this. Luke said that when Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them on a return trip to Galatia, Paul became so outraged he charged out of Antioch and had nothing more to do with Barnabas or the mission. This is dubious on several counts. First, Barnabas almost certainly had no interest in returning to Galatia. Galatia was a backwater, and it's surprising he went there in the first place. There were many more important places to missionize in the brief time remaining. Second, Barnabas would have been leading and funding the mission. Not only was Paul in no position to object, complaining about Mark would have been petty and vindictive at best. Paul's story was more grandiose and even less plausible, though nearly everyone accepts it."

From the economic, political and religious realities of the times, to how New Testament scholars have failed to recognize that Paul could be deceptive (and might even have purposely crafted lies), Paul Revealed is an honest, scholarly reappraisal of the man which any serious reader interested in Christianity will appreciate.

Missing, a Frank Renzi Novel
Susan Fleet
Privately Published
9780984723584, $15.00 Paperback, $3.99 Kindle

Missing is Book 6 in the Frank Renzi crime detective series, and features a popular New Orleans couple who appear to have everything - family, careers, success - until the wife and children vanish, leading Frank Renzi to step in, only to find a rabbit's warren of lies and deceit woven into their private lives.

Under such circumstances, is it any surprise that the wife and kids are gone? It's hard to tell, when a ransom note implies that it's a kidnapping; but evidence points to murder although the disappearance may actually be neither.

And when the case does evolve into murder and more mayhem, Renzi discovers that an already-complicated situation has just taken a further step towards a disaster that holds far-reaching implications not just for the victims, but for his own future.

One satisfying aspect of Missing is that even though it's Book 6 in a series revolving around various challenges to Detective Frank Renzi's abilities, by no means is it entirely dependent on reading about these past events. Fleet's ability to craft stand-alone yet interconnected scenarios based on the Renzi character means that a mystery reader can enter the series at virtually any point and feel at home, while prior fans can enjoy a well-crafted saga that doesn't waste its chapters referencing past events.

Another strength lies in its ability to open with a bang and keep the action fast-paced and hard-hitting throughout, with unexpected moments evident in the first few lines and continuing for the length of the saga: "Ready to rock-n-roll?" said Mickey Mouse, his black-gloved hand poised over the doorbell, his voice shrill with excitement. Too much excitement, thought Donald Duck, the guy jazzed up, acting like a kid on his first trip to Disneyland. But this was no amusement park frolic. This was serious business."

Add attention to Renzi's inner feelings throughout (which so many mystery/detective stories only skirt) and you have an emotional roller-coaster of a ride that carries the reader swiftly and deftly through the passion and poignancy of death and a detective's determination to make a difference in his life and in the lives of his clients, against all odds: "He clenched his fists, pacing the sidewalk in the first light of dawn, fighting the fury that raged inside him. He wanted to take the killer's neck in his bare hands and throttle him....But he couldn't let his emotions distract him now. He had too much to do...Frank didn't know who it was, but he would do whatever it took to find the scumbag."

Any good mystery is driven by emotion. Create concern about and empathy with the protagonists and the investigator and readers will come to care about the plot and its ultimate outcome. Add in satisfying twists and turns to pique the mind and in Missing you have a genre standout in story fueled by the author's personal investigation into NOPD procedures and protocols.

The Stem Cell Revolution
Mark Berman, MD and Elliot Lander, MD
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781504920018, $14.95 Paper, $3.99 Kindle, $23.99 Hardcover

The Stem Cell Revolution joins only a relative handful of others on a blossoming topic of stem cell research, and describes clinical stem cell therapy by highlighting science, health applications, and research techniques and how they apply to clinical settings.

One might think from its title that possibly a background in health or science would be required, but The Stem Cell Revolution needs no such expertise: it's intended for lay readers with backgrounds in neither discipline, and discusses cell therapy with general-interest readers in mind.

Discussions don't neglect ethical challenges, either, but tackle head-on the controversies surrounding stem cell therapies and research: "It's actually sad to see how so many scientists and physicians have been manipulated by special interest groups that have used the FDA to falsely support their position, keep out competition, and prevent doctors like us from simply caring for our patients. Indeed, as physicians, we appreciate that the Hippocratic oath (and the AMA code of ethics) are pretty clear about a doctor's responsibility to help his/her patients if at all possible."

Chapters focusing on the work and applications of stem cell therapy are based the work of two doctor/authors and their creation of the Cell Surgical Network. They explain how stem cell healing covers a wide range of health issues, from asthma attacks to vision improvement, they survey the evolution of the Cell Surgical Network, and they paint a positive future of cell therapies which could include applications at medical clinics and pharma-based models; not just surgical networks.

Coming from two pioneers in the medical industry who have far-reaching vision and admit that stem cell therapy is in its infancy and promises to be a "disruptive technology" in the most positive of perspectives, The Stem Cell Revolution should be pursued by any who tire of hearing that doctors can do nothing to treat a wide range of medical ailments.

Now, they can.

Live Well: Personalized Stress Relief For Young Professionals
Melanie Noble
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781304965578, $8.49 Kindle



There are so many books on the market directed to professional and personal stress relief that one might wonder at the need for yet another; but Live Well: Personalized Stress Relief For Young Professionals isn't just another general-interest approach, but a targeted plan aimed at a specific audience.

Author Melanie Noble is in the perfect position to write about this kind of management, based on her years of working in the technology industry from 9-6 without a break. Her achievement-driven career choices eventually led to a fatigue, a futile medical consultation, and finally, to work with a life coach who identified the fact that her drive to succeed was distancing her from her body and mind's basic needs.

It's important to note that the tools in Live Well aren't intended as a 'one plan fits all' approach: of necessity, they need to be tweaked and adjusted by readers because everyone handles stress differently and everyone's lifestyle and sources of workplace stress are different.

With this thought in mind, advice is broad enough to apply across the board to all readers; yet flexible enough to alter. From discussions of different styles of yoga that ultimately achieve the same goals to applying Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which 'taps in' to a body's acupuncture points, these self-help applications are designed with busy career professionals in mind and require no special training, skill sets or time commitments.

The only prerequisite is an interest in identifying and reducing career- and lifestyle-related stress to achieve optimum results; and in this Live Well: Personalized Stress Relief For Young Professionals provides its audience with a series of actionable choices that require only personal commitment to change to produce measurable results. A recommended pick for business, health, and new age holdings alike!

The Ivory Staff
M. Lachi
Library Tales Publishing
ASIN:B0157GPFGA $5.99 ebook
ISBN: 9780692425640 $17.99 print

Amazon Kindle:

An appreciation for fairy tale fantasies steeped in political intrigue is a prerequisite for appreciating the twists and turns of The Ivory Staff: A Dark Fairy Tale of Kings and War, a suspenseful romantic saga fueled by a feisty protagonist whose escapades take the finer art of storytelling to a new level.

In some ways The Ivory Staff reveals the difference between a well-told tale and a linear story because nothing in its story line is either trite or set in stone. It also represents the finer art of weaving a tenuous path through subplots of complexity: its characters are many, its scenarios are infused with social and political commentary, and its elements of romance, mystery and politics are so well woven that it's difficult to bill it as a singular genre read.

As Samiyah learns truths about her world that threaten to bring it down, she also finds that her underlying abilities, which go far beyond the socially accepted routines of grace and decorum, lead her to worlds she never expected: worlds of forbidden secrets, small conquests and heartbreaks, and not a few mysteries.

One reason why The Ivory Staff works so well in weaving a complex tale that easily immerses readers is Lachi's attention to detail, whether it's in depicting her protagonists and their motivations or setting the scene: "I could smell tea. Sweetened tea. Saab's kind of tea. The smell merged rather well with the Saturday Mediterranean breeze flowing in from the window. As soon as the creamy blur around me faded into reality, I turned to my left, away from the bright sun, and found Uncle Pan wearing his light-blue morning traditional wear - a loose-fitting pullover, a blue brocaded garment with silver embroideries, similarly designed trousers and a brimless, rounded cap."

Through her eyes and pen the sights, smells, and feelings of Samiyah's world come alive. Through her attention to detail, subplots and characters make logical sense. And through her descriptions of underlying psychological tension, the story becomes more than a dry political account of events, but a saga filled with emotional insights and rationales: "Part of me died along with him. Any tuft of verve within me melted into bitter sorrow. There was nothing I could do to bring him back. Seeing the blood actively flow out of his wounds; seeing the life actively ooze out of his body as he lay there; it's never something one gets used to and has remained stapled to my eye-lids until this very day. The death of a loved one; it's hard. I took it hard. All hopes of being ambassador, all hopes of a radical and new Mutarobi shattered in the flash of two seconds."

What life influences produce killers, kings, and kindness? What choices lead to the dark side, or the light? And what do princes, babies, murderers and heritage have to do with a girl finding her way and her destiny in a violent world?

The Ivory Staff is a song for our times, sung from the mind and heart of a girl who faces her greatest adversaries, grows immensely, and steps into her destiny with the greatest reluctance, absorbing many lessons along the way. It holds the ability to reach beyond the usual fantasy reader into circles that appreciate complex novels, protagonists, and most of all, political intrigue - and, yes, fantasy settings, and is highly recommended for an audience that appreciates multi-faceted and satisfyingly complex stories.

Confidence Your Secret Weapon: A Guide to Building Confidence
Ashley Korin McLean
Duart Publishing
9780986160103 $11.99 pbk
9780986160110 $ 5.99 ebook

While one might wonder at the need for yet another self-help book about building confidence in a genre already replete with so many books on the subject, it should be noted that a big differences sets Confidence Your Secret Weapon: A Guide to Building Confidence from its competitors; and that's its intended audience of not adult readers, but teens ages 13-17.

This is actually the age which needs such a book the most: formative years when personality, life choices and experiences are fluid and expanding, and when a book about building confidence might have its biggest effect, before habits become ingrained and difficult to change.

Because it's aimed towards a younger audience, Confidence Your Secret Weapon assumes no prior knowledge of psychology, self-help, or life experience, and it comes from an expert who is not just a young motivational speaker, but who struggled with shyness and self-limiting tendencies.

Ashley McLean doesn't view confidence-building as a set routine, but as a never-ending life journey. Her task was to provide the tips and techniques for navigating this journey, and Confidence Your Secret Weapon speaks confidently and surely about this process.

Chapters pull no punches in differentiating confidence from related (and less desirable) qualities stemming from different sources (such as arrogance), and they cover everything from identifying and cultivating desirable traits that lead to and build self-confidence to using exercises to reinforce these lessons. These short exercises require no special equipment and no challenging approaches: they're techniques any teen can readily use and incorporate into the busiest of schedules.

From building up different areas of life skills to reinforcing self-confidence and extending psychological foundations to physical health and well-being, Confidence Your Secret Weapon covers it all using a powerful, informative tone that cautions that its skills are intended as a life-long pursuit; not as a quick set of temporary actions.

Teens (and many an adult reader) who wish to incorporate more confidence into their approaches to life - and who are willing to follow the techniques that will bring them to ultimate success - will find Confidence Your Secret Weapon a real, unique winner.

Daniel A. Smith
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1466212977 $14.96 pbk
9781301206285 $3.99 ebook




Hernando DeSoto and his band of conquistadors were the first to cross the Mississippi and conquer the ancient people of Arkansas. Three 16th century journals documented their travels and battles.

A hundred years have passed and the stories revolving around these bloody encounters have all but vanished - but one old woman, one of the last surviving storytellers able to relate eyewitness stories of the bloodshed, defies native custom to tell youngsters around the campfire what really happened - and her voice can't be halted.

The truth takes facts about early Native American life and turns them upside down, telling of the breech of a forbidden practice and weaving together the lives of an orphan who grows up with oral accounts of some of the last witnesses of genocide of her times, a hermit who raises her, and a tribe that has maintained a vested interest in ignoring the truth for the sake of their survival.

In some ways Storykeeper is the quintessential survivor's account and in other ways it's much more: fiction interspersed with the fluidity of time that sometimes keeps readers guessing but more often keeps them on their toes. It's a compelling saga of one child's ability to survive all odds only to grow into an adult world where her stories and experiences are shunned, and it offers a rare glimpse into early Native cultures and what they faced and perceived when the Europeans arrived.

Storykeeper is a complex read, sometimes challenging: narrators and perspectives change, Manaha's own name changes, and even in her childhood, the events surrounding the 'Son of the Sun' and 'their' arrival take place forty-nine years earlier. With both perspective and time in flux, readers are carried along on a historical and cultural journey that, while compelling, requires attention to detail: not for those seeking light entertainment, it's a saga that demands - and deserves - careful reading and contemplation.

These cautions aside, readers who relish detailed historical fiction, stories of early Native American tradition and experience, and an unusual focus packed with historical details not typically explored in fictional format will find Storykeeper a tale of not just one woman's observations, but how she carries and imparts the memories of generations in a form that eschews paper in favor of oral accounts steeped in immediacy and vivid detail.

A saga of revenge, bribery, political bargaining, death and disease, it's a novel that's surprisingly succinct for its subject, rich in its detail, and highly recommended for historical fiction readers who want so much more than a casual pursuit.

An Invincible Summer
Betta Ferrendelli
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B015ZZFP4K, $2.99 Kindle, $12.99 Paperback

Jaime works as a deputy assistant D.A. in the Domestic Violence Unit of the Denver County District Attorney's Office. She's nearly thirty, she's put in three years in this high-stress job, and she's handling her first major trial for a brutal rape and murder of a teenager - a case that not only makes her question her job, but the world around her.

Victim Kelly's younger sister is one of the witnesses. And in order to get the shy, frightened girl to testify against her mother, Jaime must offer reassurances and tackle the girl's questions and nightmares, which lead to her own unresolved nightmares surrounding her sister Sarah.

But this is just the opener for An Invincible Summer and the lead-in to a bigger story (if that is possible) that embraces not just one trial and one step in Jaime's career, but the extent of her life and choices and her successes and failures both on the job and at home.

Readers of John Grisham and other courtroom dramas will find much to relish in An Invincible Summer, with its exact description of proceedings. Fans of thrillers will be attracted to the spunky protagonist Jaime, who displays very real, human emotions inside and outside of the courtroom. And followers of intrigue and mystery will find more than a dash of these elements spicing a story line that clearly delineates the boundaries between mother, lawyer and sister - and then slowly dissolves them in an intricate cross-examination of inter-connected lives.

And when the invincible Jamie finds herself in need of some TLC, it may not come from blood bonds, but from relationships forged from somewhere else.

It's the process of evolution and attaining completion and self-realization, injected into other themes of courtroom proceedings and home life, which makes An Invincible Summer so compelling a read.

Perhaps one of its descriptions best sums up this process: "She rubbed her hands over the woman's face. Then she saw what was missing. The intimacy of details. The ones that would bring the sculpture to life, into existence, had not yet been carved. The eyes, the curvature of their noses and mouths, the veins in their arms and on the back of their hands, their fingernails. They were the precise attention to details that needed time and effort and skill to shape and form. Drew ran his hand along the contours of the woman's hair. "Until I can finish those, Jaime, the work isn't complete."

The 'intimacy of details' is what the story line ultimately is all about, making An Invincible Summer a top recommendation for readers who enjoy courtroom drama but want proceedings to move beyond criminal law and into the complexity of evolving lives.

The Kellsburg Vampire
Lloyd Ritchey
Wildgrave Publishing

We all see monsters and we all have nightmares, but Sheriff Greg Colvin is facing something all too real: a classic vampire problem in forces that are not only killing people, but eating them and then creating living monsters. It doesn't matter whether these creatures are vampires or zombies: what does matter is stopping the killing spree, but the classic vampire-killing devices don't seem to work.

It all began when a group of curious teens investigated an abandoned military facility, unleashing an unstoppable wave of horror. If Greg Colvin can't contain the outbreak, it will move beyond Kellsburg's borders to become truly unstoppable.

The first thing to note about The Kellsburg Vampire is Lloyd Ritchey's attention to setting and detail. Protagonists move through a richly-described world that involves readers with precise description and imagery: "Twenty feet below, louvered machines studded with dials and switches clung to the walls, and consoles with old video monitors, dark and silent, huddled in raised islands across the floor. Cage-like copper coils big enough to hold a tiger gleamed dully in the center of the room, rising to metal poles that vanished into shadows high above."

Personal struggles are injected into the story line which presents the protagonists as multi-faceted beings holding concerns beyond the vampire infestation. Greg is a recovering alcoholic, for example, with sobriety on his side; and even in a blossoming romance, he harbors the wisdom and restraint to move slowly: "Their relationship needed time to grow. Pushed too fast, it would certainly fail. He wanted this woman, but he hadn't had time to fully resolve his feelings about Annie. In his mind he was still married and still mourning. He needed time to sort out his emotions."

The same caution translates well to his detective work and could make him the only possible solution to the vampire problem.

It's more than just another 'vampire novel', The Kellsburg Vampire excels in detective work, twists and turns, and intrigue to invite readers from the mystery genre to cross over into a realm of horror that infuses its plot with romance, action, and mystery as Greg confronts a force that could conceivably take over his mind and body. When an army of invincible opponents threatens, Greg might hold the key to winning an impossible battle. (Be forewarned: the story provides an open-ended conclusion that sets the stage for sequels, even though it doesn't say 'Book 1'.)

It would be easy to recommend The Kellsburg Vampire to horror audiences: because 'vampire' is part of the title, this group will migrate to the story. But less expected - and equally powerful - is an ongoing attention to intrigue and investigation which place it a cut above a 'vampire novel' to make for a recommended pick for mystery and detective readers alike.

Murder at Peacock Mansion
Judy Alter
Alter Ego Publishing
9780996013154 $13.99 print
9780996013147; $3.99 digital

Amazon Author's Page:

The third book in the Blue Plate Cafe mystery series is here, with protagonist Kate Chambers up to her elbows juggling a restaurant, romance, legal beagles, and friendships. While all this sounds like a complex mix with little room for more, Alter adds a dash of humor paired with cooking descriptions to create a homey, involving atmosphere replete with wry tongue-in-cheek observation and many warm moments: "I was stewing in my own juices that April evening, as I sliced tomatoes and green onions and diced avocado for a salad. David had said he was coming in for dinner and I'd fixed a tourtiere, a French-Canadian meat pie I'd been longing to try."

Being stood up by a man is nothing new; but because it's a usually-reliable lover who doesn't show and doesn't call, Kate's premonition of trouble ramps up a notch - and when the second dilemma (that someone's trying to kill recluse Edith Aldridge) lands on her doorstep, warm and cozy feelings fly out the cafe window.

One refreshing difference in Judy Alter's approach is that her savvy, intuitive protagonist can easily read beneath the lines to discern undercurrents of unrest. So when a calculating family member pays her a visit, she can readily see what he's really after ... and so can the reader: "She's seeing things that don't exist, threats to her that are pure fabrication. I am no longer comfortable having her live in that house." What he's really saying is that he wants her out of the house, and he doesn't care where she goes.

Another excellent device used in Murder at the Peacock Mansion is its attention to psychological detail, strengthened by Alter's use of the first person to narrate events. There's a big difference between telling a story and immersing readers in its action: Murder at the Peacock Mansion is the perfect example of the latter and assures that readers understand and empathize with Kate's thoughts throughout her experiences: "My heart lurched. It was really that serious. And then I thought about Huggles. He was outside, and yet I hadn't heard him bark. Or had I just not listened. What if that man, whoever he was, harmed my dog?"

As can perhaps be anticipated early on, murderous matters hit closer and closer to home as the story proceeds. How close? Read Murder at the Peacock Mansion to find out just how close Kate is able - and willing - to get to the truth in a delicious production that ends not just with revelations, but a taste of something more that cooks up a fine, surprising conclusion: highly recommended for murder mystery readers who also enjoy food themes.

The Bishop Wears No Drawers
Michael Barrington
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
1483432254 $23.09 hc
9781483432250 $13.59 sc
9781483432267 $8.99 ebook

Author Michael Barrington was a missionary priest in his youth and tells of his experiences in Nigeria during a turbulent time in the country's history, creating a spellbinding blend of cultural observation, spiritual insight and memoir that reads with the passion and drama of fiction.

As if the title of The Bishop Wears No Drawers: A Former Catholic Missionary Priest Remembers Africa isn't compelling enough reason to imbibe, consider the lure of its first sentence: "Mary, it's a boy, and he will be the next priest in the family!" I never actually heard these words spoken, since they were addressed by my grandmother to my mother just a few moments after she delivered me. They would, however, establish a family expectation and set off a chain of events that would predictably lead to my eventual ordination."

With that prologue, readers are off and running, following a life preset in its course and seemingly unchangeable in its inevitability. And while one might anticipate that such a memoir would revolve around personal perspective and experience, it's rare to uncover one that combines these elements with a larger perspective on the Catholic Church's interactions in foreign nations, insights on a country at odds with itself, and a priest's struggle to find himself amidst a time of chaos.

Events lead Barrington to question the set course of his life and his very belief system as he seeks to understand his ministry and its demands, his aching loneliness, and the real meaning of brotherhood. What evolves from this quest is a decision to embark on a new direction; one that will challenge his spirituality and very life.

The Bishop Wears No Drawers focuses on this process of revelation and change. Readers interested in missionary work, Catholic Church procedures, and African culture and experience will find it a unique memoir replete with encounters with all of the above; all tempered with the unusual perspective and course of Michael Barrington's life.

In any superior memoir, it's not the life itself that's the driving force so much as events surrounding its evolution. This story's perspective is both spiritual and evocative, and not to be missed by either memoir readers, followers of African history and culture, or those who look for stories of the Catholic Church and personal spiritual change
Kenneth Eade
Times Square Publishing
ISBN: 1517277205, $TBA, is one of the most intriguing thrillers on the market, combining the best elements of a courtroom drama with a detective piece and including contemporary issues (such as online hire-for-death companies) to conclude with discussions of real-world cyberstalking and its intricate nature.

Because its drama and events are based on true scenarios, offers up a powerful authenticity and contemporary focus - but what makes the story especially outstanding is its attention to crafting a complex series of scenarios holding firm psychological foundations based on superior protagonist development.

The use of the first-person helps; but even more effective is its focus on modern technology's uses and abuses, which evolves into a powerful theme that uses psychological profiles and events to create a compelling saga.

Readers should anticipate (and have a prior affinity for) much courtroom drama as well as revelations about the protagonists' personal lives. Those who enjoy Grisham and other legal studies and who appreciate more than a dose of reality in their fiction reads will find to be one of Eade's most powerful works yet, providing a scenario firmly grounded in real possibilities and powerfully enhanced by a questionable, surprise outcome in an exquisitely well-done, complex thriller!

Better With Age: The Ultimate Guide to Brain Training
Phyllis Strupp, MBA
Sonoran Cross Press LLC
8912 East Pinnacle Peak Road, Suite 604, Scottsdale, Arizona 85255
9780974672717, $TBA

As people live longer and as bodies continue to break down with age, quality of life becomes more important for present and future generations, especially with the specter of Alzheimer's becoming more and more prevalent. While there is no current prevention or cure for dementia, Better with Age offers some self-help approaches that can help strengthen the brain.

But first, a disclaimer: readers who expect to be spoon-fed routines might be disappointed to learn that, especially in this case, self-help emphasizes self. There is no path to transformation that doesn't take place without reader participation; no pat and easy answers; and many routines that require an active, ongoing participation in exercises and approaches that strengthen brain functions.

Those with a 'can-do' attitude who seek concrete ideas for such exercises will find Better with Age is firmly rooted in the latest brain research and takes the 'training' ideas of physical therapy into brain-strengthening areas. Readers should thus be prepared to invest a minimum of 15 minutes a day to following the program provided, and should have sufficient motivation and ability to follow directions and document results.

Chapters provide overviews of how the brain changes with age, how it develops different strengths at different ages, and how to 'rebalance' the brain's thought processes to improve short- and long-term memory and provide the positive conditioning that leads it to choose better paths.

With its discussions of psychology, physiology, and brain research, approaches to retraining are reinforced by concrete research and facts. The result is a practical, applicable handbook requiring neither reader familiarity with brain research and cognitive theory nor complex routines. All that's needed is a commitment to changing lifestyles just a little to make brain exercise as important as physical fitness. This audience will find Better with Age offers an approach that is concrete, actionable, and easy to follow.

The Cabin
B.A. Sherman
No Publisher, ISBN, $TBA
Pre-publication Manuscript

The Cabin is thriller writing at its best, and opens with an emotional rant, sparked from a seemingly-innocuous radio song, by a man who is sick of the world, and who pulls his SUV into a truck stop to make a call to a cabin owner inquiring about a layover. And that's where the story really begins; for the cabin - an oft-used refuge when he was part of a couple - is about to become something more.

There have been so many thrillers written about spooky cabins in the woods that one can nearly surmise some of the events about to take place just from the book's title; but it's quickly evident that The Cabin offers different. For one thing, it opens with an emotional melt-down that has nothing to do with cabins or intrigue, but documents the explosive relationship between a man and his ex.

In the course of his reflections, readers are treated to flashbacks that summarize his childhood, upbringing, and life: a taste of what was, preparing the ground for what is to come. Readers are moved quickly from childhood to college days, romance, and then the present state of affairs. From the emotional revelations, it's evident that The Cabin holds as much psychology as it has thriller in its mix - and considering that many psychological thrillers err on the 'thriller' portion, this is a big plus: "I should have then and there asked her for a further explanation - and also shared with her how the incident had looked to me. I should have been more of a man and taken charge."

As Herman struggles with issues of manliness, memories surrounding his dissolving relationship with his wife, and the growing realization that his wife has been having some kind of affair ("Actually, they seemed to be speaking to each other as if they had met several they had a bond with each other."), events segue between the cold truck stop and the chilling relationship to completely fill in any blanks. Midway into The Cabin, the present kicks in.

Can a weekend at a retreat resolve questions of manly behaviors? As Herman returns from the past to delve into present-day matters in an isolated, primitive environment, readers are right there with him. And as delusion teeters precariously close to reality, readers eventually begin to question what is real and what is not as events and interactions push The Cabin to an unexpected conclusion.

The traditional 'spooky cabin in the woods' theme just got a lot more complicated, elevating a traditional thriller format to another level and providing a read recommended not for those who look for action-packed adventure, but for readers who consider the true thriller element to lie in a detailed psychological exploration of a protagonist who may be on the road to insanity ... or not.

The Cats of Rekem
C.L. Francisco, PhD
Privately Published
9781517586027, $12.98

The third book in the 'Yeshua's Cats' series is here, and it takes place years after the events of A Cat Out of Egypt - but that doesn't mean that newcomers necessarily need prior familiarity with the others to easily enter the world of the latest The Cats of Rekem. All that's required is a basic interest in animal fantasy writings, ancient Egypt, and early Christian history in order to appreciate the story of sentient cats who celebrate their heritage and observe the curious circumstances of humans.

Francisco's opening lines reviews this heritage, neatly providing background for new readers ("Zaidan, master of caravans, grandfather of his people, and my chosen human, bore my sister's body down from the cliffs with honor. I, Lion of the Mountain, led the way, as I had led him into the rocks to find her."), while the first-person cat's-eye perspective offers additional insights into relationships and flavors of the times: "I approved of my human and his mate. Regardless of their own distress, they rarely failed to act with dignity and restraint, as befitted the humans of Rekem's sovereign male cat."

It's this viewpoint which presents events from the life of Jesus in a completely new light, and which makes this story a refreshingly unique departure from the usual approach to Jesus' times: "Well, Dragon," she repeated, as if tasting the word as she spoke, "yes, the son of Earth really lives, and yes, he was dead." She paused to lick a paw and then spoke again, this time with a smile. "You remind me of myself when I first saw him yesterday. I couldn't sit still either."

As Wind on Water, Lion of the Mountain, and others tell of their experiences, readers bask in the chill of the desert night, the blossoming of faith, the intrusion and questions of death, and the physical, psychological and spiritual observations of animals who make their way in the world and who comment upon the fates of man and animal alike.

Throughout these observations, the feel of the times springs to life: "The sweet scent of water reached my nose long before we reached Damascus. Apparently the camels smelled it too: for almost a day before we arrived, the humans had to work to hold their beasts back, rather than urging them on. First the mountains rose over the rim of the desert, then the brown hills, and last the city walls."

Brimming with flavor, startling in many of its cat viewpoints, and scintillatingly haunting in its perspective of Jesus' world, The Cats of Rekem represents spiritual fantasy writing at its best, and is a highly recommended addition to a series that will delight Christian readers with a fondness for cats.

The dose of fantasy extrapolation takes Yeshua's world in a different direction than most. Think 'Narnia' and Aslan, but with more emphasis on feline perspectives and the odd nature and pursuits of man and how each worship the One in different ways. Christian fantasy readers will find it a delightfully different adventure!

The Reform Artists: A Novel
Jon Reisfeld
Hot Gates Press, LLC
9781515173281, $16.99
Trade Paperback, 326 pp 9780996587808 $16.99
Ebook PDF 9780996587815 $5.49
Ebook EPUB 9780996587839 $5.49
Ebook MOBI 9780996587822 $5.49

Books about divorce (even wrenching, conflicted ones) are nothing new to the market: Kramer vs. Kramer and many others have well followed the process and emotions involved in separation. What is new in The Reform Artists is a spy thriller and a courtroom drama that revolves around false allegations of domestic abuse. This book goes beyond interpersonal confrontation by blending the legal thriller format with the unique emotional challenges associated with high-conflict divorce tactics.

It opens with the bang of a thriller: Character Heather Barnes is speeding (and screaming) along streets in her car, as she panics over a precious cell phone call that cannot be made.

The next instant, news of a triple murder/suicide from an apparent case of domestic violence flashes across news screens. All has been lost, and events seem to constitute a cut-and-dried case - or, do they?

The pleasure in The Reform Artists is that nothing is as it seems. As in any superior, complex read, a host of seemingly disparate characters are introduced (here, in staccato-quick scenes) who at first seem to bear no relationship to one another. As events unwind, so do the lives, motivations, and personalities of everyone involved, with dissolving marriages and violence permeating a cast of characters destined to come together under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Business relationships gone awry, dubious contacts, husbands and wives and their attorneys, and approaches to resolution that more than skirt the law: All these elements are presented in a legal thriller and spy story that takes the domestic violence topic and turns it upside down.

Courtroom scenes and angry, scared men could easily have turned The Reform Artists into a legal thriller alone, but Reisfeld is careful to include the emotional twists that involve readers in character lives outside the courtroom: "Judge Farnsworth touched his throbbing cheek. He was no longer in his front hallway, but miles away, standing barefoot on a cold, dark street, still in his robe. He held a small, hastily stuffed suitcase in his right hand. He felt lost, ashamed - and alone."

Any action - even the most heinous of choices - can be explained by understanding the emotions and rationales behind them. The Reform Artists offers powerful testimony both to the legal process's finer art of examination and cross-examination and the hearts, minds, choices and logic of protagonists who try to find a way out of impossible circumstances.

All this makes for a powerful blend of legal proceeding and emotional revelation especially recommended for fans of Grisham who seek courtroom drama paired with intrigue and cemented by emotional connections throughout.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Lucifer's Game
Will Schneider
Over and Above Press
9780990792451, $19.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: It's to one of the exotic tropical islands of Hawaii, that Jackson Trent has come to heal his heart after losing a loved one. As the writer of a popular blog on self-improvement, he believes he understands human nature, including his own failings. His respite trip is interrupted by the appearance of a mysterious stranger who walks with a 'shuffle, shuffle, dip of the neck.' It's Lucifer, Prince of Darkness himself, who makes a personal appearance on earth from time to time to update himself on humanity and today he's chosen Jackson. Though wary, Jackson's curiosity pushes him to agree to spend the day with Lucifer, debating and exchanging views about human nature and the possibility of enlightenment. Lucifer challenges Jackson to understand that humans live unconsciously and are caught in his web, "playing his game," as he is the Keeper of the Shadowlings, all the negative forces like hatred, envy, and greed that we deny in ourselves and push into the basement of our minds. Jackson defends humanity, but Lucifer shows him the depths of human failings, even tricking Jackson into giving into some of his own. Sucked into Lucifer's game, Jackson gets played until he recognizes the manipulation. The stakes grow serious and it's either Lucifer or Jackson who must win the Faustian bet.

Critique: A complex yet deftly crafted novel, "Lucifer's Game" is a compelling read from beginning to end and clearly establishes author Will Schneider as a major literary talent of the first order. Original and unique, thoughtful and thought--provoking, "Lucifer's Game" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain
Bill Hillman
Curbside Splendor Publishing Inc.
9781940430539, $15.95, 200pp,

Synopsis: With a journalist's ear for detail, master-storyteller "Buffalo" Bill Hillmann narrates his decade-long journey of self-discovery, exploring his transformation from wasted ex-Golden Gloves champ lost in street brawls and cocaine deals on the Chicago streets to running with a world-renowned crew of mozos, masters in the art of running with the bulls. "Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain" also includes a first-hand account of his infamous goring by a bull named "Brevito" during the annual 'Running of the Bulls' event, an incident that was covered by news outlets globally.

Critique: An inherently fascinating memoir that is exceptionally well written from beginning to end, "Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library American Autobiography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Places of the Heart
Colin Ellard
Bellevue Literary Press
c/o Dept. of Medicine
NYU School of Medicine
550 First Ave., OBV 612, New York, NY 10016
9781942658009, $19.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: Our surroundings can powerfully affect our thoughts, emotions, and physical responses, whether we're awed by the Grand Canyon or Hagia Sophia, panicked in a crowded room, soothed by a walk in the park, or tempted in casinos and shopping malls. In "Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life", Colin Ellard (A cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and Director of its Urban Realities Laboratory) explores how our homes, workplaces, cities, and nature (places we escape to and can't escape from) have influenced us throughout history, and how our brains and bodies respond to different types of real and virtual space. As Professor Ellard describes the insight he and other scientists have gained from new technologies, he assesses the influence these technologies will have on our evolving environment and asks what kind of world we are, and should be, creating.

Critique: Impressively written and exceptionally well organized, "Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the science of the brain and how it functions, "Places of the Heart" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Places of the Heart" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.49).

Chief of Thieves
Steven W. Kohlhagen
Sunstone Press
PO Box 2321, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2321
9781632930460, $34.95, 382pp,

Synopsis: August 1863 finds two con artists traveling with their embezzled cash to build their dream ranch in Washington Territory. But some Cheyenne Indians have different plans for those white settlers heading west, plans that cause the story of our con artists to become three stories. "Chief of Thieves" by Steven W. Kohlhagen takes the reader into the disasters of early Western ranch life and the births of lawless Wyoming towns; inside Cheyenne villages and tipis, where this hunting civilization of people, called ''the greatest horsemen and cavalry the world ever saw'', lived, raided, and were attacked and massacred as they slept; and into the relentlessly driven lives, internal conflicts, and battles of George Armstrong Custer and his Seventh Cavalry. The three stories interweave at an ever-quickening pace, from Colorado negotiations to battles in Oregon, Wyoming. Kansas, and what is now Montana, including the massacres at Sand Creek and the Washita River, before culminating on a beautiful June 1876 day on the Little Bighorn River. Custer's Little Bighorn decisions under fire in real time become understandable on these pages as death comes to historical and fictional characters, con artists, U.S. soldiers, and Cheyenne alike, and the three stories merge climactically on that fateful day in American history. "Chief of Thieves" is based on the factual story of how Lieutenant Augustyn P. Damours conned the U.S. Army, the Catholic Church, and the New Mexico Territory out of millions of today's dollars.

Critique: The impressive sequel to "Where They Bury You", Steven W. Kohlhagen's "Chief of Thieves" is a riveting read from first page to last. With an impressive attention to historical detail, "Chief of Thieves is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Western Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Chief of Thieves" is also available in a paperback edition (9781632930453, $24.95) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).

Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science
Committee on the Science of Team Science
National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9780309316828, $59.00, 280pp,

Synopsis: The past half-century has witnessed a dramatic increase in the scale and complexity of scientific research. The growing scale of science has been accompanied by a shift toward collaborative research, referred to as "team science." Scientific research is increasingly conducted by small teams and larger groups rather than individual investigators, but the challenges of collaboration can slow these teams' progress in achieving their scientific goals. How does a team-based approach work, and how can universities and research institutions support teams? "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science" synthesizes and integrates the available research to provide guidance on assembling the science team; leadership, education and professional development for science teams and groups. "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science" also examines institutional and organizational structures and policies to support science teams and identifies areas where further research is needed to help science teams and groups achieve their scientific and translational goals. This report offers major public policy recommendations for science research agencies and policymakers, as well as recommendations for individual scientists, disciplinary associations, and research universities.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science" will be of particular and enduring interest to university research administrators, team science leaders, science faculty, and graduate and postdoctoral students. "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science" is very highly recommended for academic library Science & Research reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science" is also available in a Kindle edition ($47.99).

Back to the Wild
Alain Saury
Process Media Inc.
1240 West Sims Way, #124, Port Townsend, WA 98368
9781934170588, $24.95, 474pp,

Synopsis: "Back to the Wild: A Practical Manual for Uncivilized Times" is a practical, instructive, and poetic survival guide. The first English translation of the French masterpiece by Alain Saury (artist, author, and co-founder of the Vegetarian Association of Frence) about living wild in the world and creating a permaculture. "Back to the Wild" is a comprehensive source covering everything from cartography to hunting and dressing wild game to cooking without a kitchen. Beautifully designed and organized, the material in "Back to the Wild" deftly illustrates the importance in having an intimate relationship with nature, and it leads the reader back to wild, whether the journey is taken by choice or by necessity.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Back to the Wild: A Practical Manual for Uncivilized Times" is an impressive work that is thoroughly 'user friendly' and commended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in living a simpler and more fulfilling life in these increasingly complicated and ecologically detrimental times. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Back to the Wild: A Practical Manual for Uncivilized Times" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

The Trees Beneath Us
Darren R. Leo
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586731, $15.95, 172pp,

Synopsis: Finn is divorced, distant with his kids, lost a son and his father, an apathetic patient in therapy, has sporadic episodes of rheumatoid arthritis, a job with a VP title that no longer needed him, and a man whose only saving grace is his girlfriend Penny. In the face of all his problems, frustrations and guilt Finn decides to take trek along the Appalachian Trail. Starting in Connecticut Finn heads south. With no real concept on how long his trek will take, let alone whatever it is he's hoping to accomplish, unfamiliar with trail courtesies or what to gather along the trail for food, he exists from one outfitter to the next, quickly learning that he has to take care of the big three of the hike: water, warmth, shelter. But somehow on this extended and self-inflicted outing Finn learns some very genuine 'life lessons' -- but will it be enough to ease all those non-physical burdens he has been carrying?

Critique: Destined to be a modern classic, "The Trees Beneath Us" by Darren R. Leo is a compelling and deftly crafted novel from first page to last. "The Trees Beneath Us" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

The Singing Irish
Michael Alan Anderson
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268020453, $35.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: In "The Singing Irish: A History of the Notre Dame Glee Club", Michael Alan Anderson (Associate Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music and a member of the Notre Dame Glee Club from 1993 to 1997) brings to life the rich history and traditions of the Notre Dame Glee Club. Replete with nearly three hundred images, the stunning large-format book examines the early history of the ensemble before 1915, its robust membership, rehearsal and concert customs, and the contributions of its conductors through the decades. Anderson interviewed dozens of Glee Club alumni going back to the early 1940s to narrate the vibrant story of the group, while assembling a wealth of documents that detail the activities undertaken - and impressions made - by this extraordinary musical ensemble. The group's famous appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early 1950s marked the height of the Glee Club's visibility; however, the ensemble continues to sell out concerts on national and international tours, having traveled to nearly every state in the United States and numerous countries in Europe, Asia, and Central America. Through its eclectic repertoire and polished singing, the Glee Club has achieved a lofty status among collegiate choral ensembles in the United States, beloved by students, members of the Notre Dame family, and friends and supporters of the university around the world. Combining the meaningful culture of Notre Dame with the highest standards of artistic excellence, "The Singing Irish" makes a wonderful keepsake for fans and alumni of the Notre Dame Glee Club as it enters its centennial year.

Critique: Impressively well written, beautifully illustrated, informed and informative, "The Singing Irish: A History of the Notre Dame Glee Club" is a delight to simply browse through and should be considered a 'must' for all Notre Dame alumni. A unique contribution, "The Singing Irish" is strongly recommended for academic library Music History reference collections. It should also be noted for personal reading lists that "The Singing Irish" is also available (enhanced with audio and video) in a Kindle edition ($33.25).

Food & Freedom
Carlo Petrini
Rizzoli Ex Libris
c/o Rizzoli
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9780847846856, $24.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: Inspiring the global fight to revolutionize the way food is grown, distributed, and eaten. In the almost thirty years since Carlo Petrini began the Slow Food organization, he has been constantly engaged in the fight for food justice. Beginning first in his native Italy and then expanding all over the world, the movement has created a powerful force for change.
The essential argument of "Food & Freedom: How the Slow Food Movement Is Changing the World Through Gastronomy" is that food is an avenue towards freedom. This uplifting and humanistic message is straightforward: if people can feed themselves, they can be free. In other words, if people can regain control over access to their food including how it is produced, by whom, and how it is distributed, then that can lead to a greater empowerment in all channels of life. Whether in the Amazon jungle talking with tribal elders or on rice paddies in rural Indonesia, the author engages the reader through the excitement of his journeys and the passion of his mission. In "Food & Freedom", Petrini reports upon some of the success stories that he has observed firsthand. From Chiapas to Puglia, Morocco to North Carolina, he has witnessed the many ways different peoples have dealt with food problems. "Food & Freedom" allows us to learn from these case studies and lays out models for the future.

Critique: Presenting a somewhat iconoclastic perspective on the meaning of freedom and social change, "Food & Freedom: How the Slow Food Movement Is Changing the World Through Gastronomy" is a compelling, informative, and insightful read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Food & Freedom: How the Slow Food Movement Is Changing the World Through Gastronomy" is also available for personal reading lists in a Kindle edition ($15.13).

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Fishing Oneida Lake
Spider Rybaak
Burford Books, Inc.
101 East State Street, #301, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781580801775, $16.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: Measuring over five miles wide and almost 21 miles long, Oneida Lake is the largest body of water nestled totally within the Empire State of New York, and state's single most productive warmwater fishery. Savvy anglers from all over the country (and beyond) know it. They come year-round, to ice-fish in winter and using spin, fly, and trolling gear through the remainder of the year, for delectable panfish, walleye, bass, pike, pickerel, crappie, catfish and more. A regular stop on the professional bass-fishing tournament circuit, Oneida Lake is a famous and popular fishery. "Fishing Oneida Lake" is the only instructional guide book that details this lake's remarkable fishing opportunities as reported by a renowned local angler who has fished every area in the lake repeatedly. Organized by season, and featuring 67 specific locations for angling success, "Fishing Oneida Lake" will reward the reader with all the knowledge needed for an outstanding day on the water.

Critique: Nicely illustrated with black-and-white photos, "Fishing Oneida Lake" is as informed and informative as it is thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, composition, and presentation. Simply stated, "Fishing Oneida Lake: A Complete Guide to New York's Most Productive Warmwater Fisher" should be considered essential reading for any aspiring angler seeking to fish the waters of this famous New York lake.

Urban Flight
Jonathan Kirshner
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745736, $15.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Urban Flight" by Jonathan Kirsher is a novel that takes place in New York City in the despairing days of 1975, when the Big Apple flirted with bankruptcy and its mean streets teetered on the edge of anarchy. A year after Nixon's resignation, Jason Sims, one-time sixties idealist and part-time musician, finds himself piloting a helicopter for a television news station's traffic reports. Jason agrees to do some extra flying for the station's mysterious owner, and during these extra-curricular flights observes activities that could be related to the urban corruption scandal and possible murder that his best friend, journalist Adam Shaker, has been investigating. As Jason becomes inadvertently enmeshed in the City's political crisis (and a new love interest) he confronts the demons of his past and experiences a personal re-awakening.

Critique: A complex yet deftly crafted novel, "Urban Flight" is an inherently engaging read from beginning to end and showcases the very special storytelling talents of author Jonthan Kirshner. A truly exceptional addition to community and academic library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Urban Flight" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.14).

Soyuz Blue
Steven John Fuchs
Steven John Fuchs Fine Arts
9780986067617, $8.95, 84pp,

Synopsis: After sunspot activity threatens the orbit of the International Space Station, Corporate Cosmonaut Elizabeth Floyd is assigned to the Russian mission to save the outpost. But terrorists, a crippling solar storm, and scientific fraud all serve to turn her rescue flight into a journey of intrigue and mystery. This vividly illustrated science fiction graphic novel puts you into the cockpit of the venerable Soyuz spacecraft as it lifts off on an odyssey of discovery and adventure.

Critique: The first volume of a planned graphic novel science fiction trilogy, "Soyuz Blue" by Steven John Fuchs is a terrifically entertaining and original story from beginning to end -- and one that will leave its readers looking eagerly toward the next thrilling installment. "Soyuz Blue" is very highly recommended to the attention of all science fiction fantasy and graphic novel enthusiasts.

Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History
Shin Eun-jung
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629630403, $18.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: "Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History" critical examination of Harvard University's monumental but disconcerting global influence and power. Author Shin Eun-jung deftly examines aspects of Harvard's history that is not generally known to the public. "Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History" begins with analysis of Harvard's involvement in the Salem Witch and Sacco-Vanzetti trials. Similarly disquieting, Harvard provided students as strikebreakers in both the 1912 Bread and Roses textile workers strike and the 1919 Boston police strike. Harvard administrators and scientists promoted eugenics in the early 20th century and had a deep impact on Nazi Germany's race theories. Harvard's contemporary ties to U.S. foreign policy and neoliberalism are also profound. Harvard's management of Russian economic reform left nightmarish memories, and the university was compelled to pay more than $26 million after the U.S. government sued it. "Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History" also examines Harvard's investment policy for its massive endowment, its restrictive labor policies, and its devastation of the adjoining Allston-Brighton neighborhood into which it is expanding. Harvard's motto is "Veritas", which means "truth" in Latin, and "Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History" fully explores the ways Harvard has pursued money and power above its quest for truth.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History" is impressively informed and informative. Of special and particular interest to Harvard alumni, this researched base expose is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Verita$: Harvard's Hidden History" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Millennials Who Manage
Chip Espinoza & Joel Schwarzbart
Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
9780134086798, $34.99, 176pp,

Synopsis: Millennials will be our next great generation of corporate and governmental leaders. Today, however, as they move into management, they face difficult practical challenges. "Millennials Who Manage: How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader" is a complete, research-based guide to overcoming those challenges, delivering outstanding performance, and getting recognized for it. Reflecting their extensive enterprise consulting and research experience, co-authors Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart show how to transition more smoothly into management. You will gain insight into earning the respect of peers and "elders" that you are now leading, as well as your manager. You will discover you can achieve success your way, without compromising who you are or becoming someone you are not. You'll learn management skills that arguably come naturally to Millennials. Prepare to explore what really motivates Boomers and Xers whose formative experiences were different from yours and how to guide them beyond today's unhelpful stereotypes about Millennials. You'll also master the specific management and leadership competencies you need most right now -- whether you're moving into frontline management or the CEO's office!

Critique: An exceptionally informed and informative work, " "Millennials Who Manage: How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader" is an impressively practical and absorbing read that is especially recommended to the attention of corporate and academic library Business Management reference collections and supplemental study lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Millennials Who Manage" is also available in a Kindle edition ($23.40).

The Jeweled Highway: On The Quest for a Life of Meaning
Ralph White
Divine Arts
9781611250343, $17.95, 216pp,

Synopsis: "The Jeweled Highway: On The Quest for a Life of Meaning" by Ralph White personal story about the search to find the secrets of life and give them to others. A new story for our time by a pioneer of the consciousness movement, Ralph White's memoir traces the life of someone who unexpectedly embarks on a spiritual quest into a new world view, experiences an opening to the mystical, and the beginning of a life dedicated to the creation of a new culture. "The Jeweled Highway" takes the reader from childhood in the Celtic world, through adolescence in gritty Northern England, to the outburst of freedom in the Sixties. A gripping narrative of a life at the forefront in a global movement, readers will also gain an insider's knowledge of the origins of major centers of holistic learning, learn why they have served as such focal points for positive change, and how are they part of a worldwide emergence of points of holistic learning intent on bringing greater sanity, wisdom and awareness to the world.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read, "The Jeweled Highway: On The Quest for a Life of Meaning" is one of those rare personal memoirs that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Impressively well written with candor and insight, "The Jeweled Highway" is very highly recommended for community library biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Jeweled Highway" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Time on Two Crosses
Devon W. Carbado & Donald Weise, editors
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781627781268, $21.95, 216pp,

Synopsis: Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 - August 24, 1987) was an African-American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where his family was involved in civil rights work. In 1936, he moved to Harlem, New York City, where he earned a living as a nightclub and stage singer. He continued activism for civil rights. In 1956 Bayard Rustin taught Martin Luther King Jr. strategies of nonviolence during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, thereby launching the civil rights movement. Widely acclaimed as a founding father of modern black protest, Rustin reached international notoriety in 1963 as the openly gay organizer of the March on Washington. Long before the March on Washington, Rustin's leadership placed him at the vanguard of social protest. His gay identity, however, became a point of contention with the movement, with the controversy embroiling even King himself. "Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin" is an extensive collection of Rustin's writings deftly organized and presented in six major sections: The Making of a Movement; The Politics of Protest; African American Leadership; Equality Beyond Race; Gay Rights; Equality Beyond America.

Critique: An exceptional body of work, "Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin" is very highly recommended for personal, community and academic library Black Studies and Gay Rights History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Time on Two Crosses" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Disruption by Design
Paul Paetz
Apress, Inc.
233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013
9781430246329, $29.99, 284pp,

Synopsis: From Eli Whitney to Henry Ford to Ray Kroc to Steve Jobs, market disruptors have reaped the benefits, including fame and fortune. But do you have to be that rare genius whose unique skills can literally change the world? No. Disrupting a market is a discipline that can be learned. "Disruption by Design: How to Create Products that Disrupt and then Dominate Markets" is specifically designed to be an instructional handbook and guide for entrepreneurs, CEOs, product developers, innovators, and others who want to build products or create services that systematically disrupt markets. "Disruption by Design" conveys lessons learned from successful disruptors, and from the many companies that should have disrupted but failed. Beginning with a quick review of the theory and key elements of the patterns of disruptive innovations and how to identify ideas with disruptive potential, "Disruption by Design" guides you through the design, build, and go-to-market phases that successful disruptors follow. Using many examples of disruptive companies and products, "Disruption by Design" goes beyond describing how disruptive innovation happens, and answers and explains the all-important "why"; provides a "where-to-look" guide for discovering disruptive opportunities; shows how to predict when market disruption is likely; outlines the necessary ingredients and elements of corporate strategy that maximize the probability of being disruptive; provides a roadmap to disruptive success, from the initial idea through product launch to actual market disruption; shows how to stay atop the market and not be the next victim of a new disruptor; and includes the 'Disruption by Design Canvas' for mapping a disruptive business model.

Critique; Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Disruption by Design: How to Create Products that Disrupt and then Dominate Markets" is unique and very highly recommended to the attention of entrepreneurs and corporate managers. A seminal work that is thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, "Disruption by Design" should be a part of every professional, corporate, community, and academic library Business Studies instructional reference collection.

The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now
Michael A. Lebowitz
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583675472, $89.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: In "The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now", economist Michael A. Lebowitz (Professor Emeritus of Economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada) explores the obvious but almost universally ignored fact that as human beings work together to produce society's goods and services, we also "produce" something else: namely, ourselves. Human beings are shaped by circumstances, and any vision of socialism that ignores this fact is bound to fail, or, at best, reproduce the alienation of labor that is endemic to capitalism. But how can people transform their circumstances in a way that allows them to re-organize production and, at the same time, fulfill their human potential? Professor Lebowitz sets out to answer this question first by examining Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme, and from there investigates the experiences of the Soviet Union and more recent efforts to build socialism in Venezuela. He argues that socialism in the twenty-first century must be animated by a central vision, in three parts: social ownership of the means of production, social production organized by workers, and the satisfaction of communal needs and communal purposes. These essays repay careful reading and reflection, and prove Professor Lebowitz to be one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of this era.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now" is a seminal body of work that is a critically important and very highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Economics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583675465, $22.00) and in a Kindle format ($17.79).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Gardens of Arne Maynard
Arne Maynard
Merrell Publishers
8755 Lookout Mountain Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
9781858946269, $70.00, 308pp,

Synopsis: "The Gardens of Arne Maynard" is the first book on the work of one of today's most celebrated and sought-after garden designers. Arne Maynard is known for his award-winning gardens at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show (2000, 2012) and for his beautiful and sympathetic gardens for private houses across the world. Central to his work as a designer is his ability to identify and draw out the essence of a place, something that gives his gardens a particular quality of harmony and belonging. Maynard is also a passionate gardener himself, and is in the process of transforming the garden around his house in Monmouthshire, Wales. This garden is one of those featured in the book, offering unique insights into the work in progress and his design methods. Also featured is Maynard's very first garden of his own, at Guanock House in Norfolk, where over ten years he created a formal layout - including a kitchen garden, herbaceous borders and a knot garden - from a field.

Each of the twelve gardens showcased in "The Gardens of Arne Maynard" is specially photographed by William Collinson and is described through the seasons in personal text by Maynard himself, including details of the brief and plant selection. "The Gardens of Arne Maynard" also includes fully illustrated features on various topics close to Maynard's heart, such as growing and using roses, planting borders, creating productive kitchen gardens, incorporating sculpture in the garden, and training trees and shrubs.

Critique: A stunningly beautiful coffee-table compendium, "The Gardens of Arne Maynard" blends impressive visual images with an informed commentary. The result is a pure pleasure to browse for all gardening enthusiasts and designers. Very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Gardening Design reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that "The Gardens of Arne Maynard" would prove to be an enduringly popular Memorial Fund acquisition selection for libraries.

How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness
Toni Bernhard
Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781614292487, $16.95, 352pp,

Synopsis: Chronic illness creates many challenges, from career crises and relationship issues to struggles with self-blame, personal identity, and isolation. In "How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide", author Toni Bernhard addresses these challenges and many more, using practical examples to illustrate how mindfulness, equanimity, and compassion can help readers make peace with a life turned upside down. In an accessible and conversational style, Bernhard shows how to cope and make the most of life despite the challenges of chronic illness; how to benefit from mindfulness exercises to mitigate physical and emotional pain; offers concrete advice for negotiating the everyday hurdles of medical appointments, household chores, and social obligations; an presents tools for navigating the strains illness can place on relationships Several of the chapters comprising "How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness" are directed toward family and friends of the chronically ill, helping them to understand what their loved one is going through and how they can help. Humorous and empathetic, Bernhard shares her own struggles and setbacks with unflinching honesty, offering invaluable support in the search to find peace and well-being.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in content, organization and presentation, "How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide" will prove to be an invaluable read for anyone suffering from a chronic illness or who has care-giver responsibilities for such a person. Strongly recommended for community and academic library Health & Medicine reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Not Just Good, but Beautiful
Helen Alvare & Steven Lopes, editors
Plough Publishing House
PO Box 398, Walden, NY 12586
9780874866834, $12.00, 174pp,

Synopsis: In an unprecedented interreligious conference in November 2014, Pope Francis and four hundred religious leaders and scholars from around the world met in Rome to explore what their diverse faiths teach about marriage and "the complementarity of man and woman". "Not Just Good, but Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship between Man and Woman" contains the most representative presentations at that closely followed event, Humanum: An International Interreligious Colloquium, which included Catholic, Evangelical, Anglican, Pentecostal, Eastern Orthodox, Anabaptist, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu delegates. The various contributors to "Not Just Good, but Beautiful" bring the wisdom of their various faiths and cultures to bear on this timely issue, examining, celebrating, and illustrating the natural union of man and woman in marriage as a universal cornerstone of healthy families, communities and societies. With broad global representation, "Not Just Good, but Beautiful" uses fresh language and images to highlight the beauty and benefits of marriage. The contributors to "Not Just Good, but Beautiful" do not represent political parties, but speak from their religious, intellectual, and cultural knowledge and experiences.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Not Just Good, but Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship between Man and Woman" is a truly memorable reading experience and very strongly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Religion/Spirituality and Family/Relationship reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Not Just Good, but Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship between Man and Woman" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.49).

Giant: George Stevens, A Life On Film
Marilyn Ann Moss
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299204303, $30.00, 340pp,

Synopsis: In "Giant: George Stevens, A Life On Film", film historian Marilyn Ann Moss examines the life of one of the most influential directors to work in Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1960s. George Stevens directed such popular and significant films as Shane, Giant, A Place in the Sun, and The Diary of Anne Frank. He was the first to pair Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on film in Woman of the Year. Through the study of Stevens's life and his production history, Moss also presents a glimpse of the workings of the classic Hollywood studio system in its glory days. Moss documents Stevens's role as a powerful director who often had to battle the heads of major studios to get his films made his way. She traces the four decades Stevens was a major Hollywood player and icon, from his earliest days at the Hal Roach Studios (where he learned to be a cameraman, writer, and director for Laurel and Hardy features) up to when his films made millions at the box office and were graced by actors such as Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Alan Ladd, and Montgomery Clift.

Critique: Impressively well researched and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Giant: George Stevens, A Life On Film" is a seminal study that should be a part of every academic library's Cinema History reference collection and supplemental studies reading lists. Unusually informed and informative, "Giant: George Stevens, A Life On Film" is enhanced with the inclusion of twelve pages of Notes, an eight page Filmography, a four page Bibliography, and a nineteen page Index. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Giant: George Stevens, A Life On Film" is also available in a paperback edition (Terrace Books, 9780299204341, $26.95) and in a Kindle format ($16.95).

Not By Sight
Kate Breslin
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764211614, $14.99, 384pp,

Synopsis: With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover. Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack. And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them -- or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.

Critique: A deftly crafted story from beginning to end, "Not By Sight" showcases the impressively storytelling talents of novelist Kate Breslin. A thoroughly entertaining read from first page to last, "Not By Sight" is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Not By Sight" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.54).

The Sacred Ego
Jalaja Bonheim
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781583949436, $22.95, 304pp,

Synopsis: Why have we failed to create the happy, peaceful world that we all want? And what can we do about it? For more than three decades, Jalaja Bonheim has explored these questions in her work with women leaders, activists, and spiritual seekers from around the world. In "The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World", she tackles one of the core myths of popular spiritual culture, namely the myth of the ego, which is supposedly responsible for our greed, selfishness, and violence. In contrast, Bonheim approaches the ego as a sacred function worthy of honor and gratitude. With riveting stories from her work, she guides us into the depths of our collective psyche to pinpoint the real sources of our problems and illuminate our path to wholeness. Firmly grounded in a lifetime of practical experience, "The Sacred Ego" is a visionary, uplifting book that explains why our world is in crisis and how we can support the unprecedented transformational process that's underway.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World" is an inherently fascinating read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Sacred Ego" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Missing Kennedy
Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610881746, $27.50, 270pp,

Synopsis: Rosemary (Rosie) Kennedy was born in 1918, the first daughter of a wealthy Bostonian couple who later would become known as the patriarch and matriarch of America's most famous and celebrated family. Stella Koehler, a charismatic woman of the cloth who became Sister Paulus Koehler after taking her vows with the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi, was Elizabeth's Wisconsin aunt and was Rosie Kennedy's caregiver for much of her adult life and spanned some thirty-five years. A caregiver, quite tragically, had become necessary after Rosie, a slow learner prone to emotional outbursts, underwent one of America's first lobotomies an operation Joseph Kennedy was assured would normalize Rosie's life. It did not. Rosie's condition became decidedly worse. After the procedure, Joe Kennedy sent Rosie to rural Wisconsin and Saint Coletta, a Catholic-run home for the mentally disabled. For the next two decades, she never saw her siblings, her parents, or any other relative, the doctors having issued stern instructions that even the occasional family visit would be emotionally disruptive to Rosie. Following Joseph Kennedy's stroke in 1961, the Kennedy family, led by mother Rose and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, resumed face to face contact with Rosie. It was also about then that a young Elizabeth Koehler began paying visits to Rosie. "The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women" is an insightful and poignant memoir, based in part on Sister Paulus' private notes and augmented by over one-hundred never-before-seen photos, as Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff recalls the many happy and memorable times spent with the missing Kennedy.

Critique: Candid, intimate, detailed, inherently fascinating, and impressively well written from beginning to end, "The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women" is a compelling read and will prove to be of immense interest for anyone interested in the Kennedy family. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Missing Kennedy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Fishing with RayAnne
Ava Finch
Lake Union Publishing
9781503947689, $14.95, 329pp,

Synopsis: Having fled the testosterone-soaked world of pro fishing to finally settle in her Minneapolis fixer-upper, thirty-something RayAnne Dahl unexpectedly lands at the helm of the first all-women fishing and talk show. Between her dad's falling off the wagon, unwanted advice from Mom (a life coach to the menopausal rich) and her clingy dog, RayAnne needs the advice of her beloved grandmother more than ever. With the show's surprise success, producers press for celebrity appearances, but fans tweet support for RayAnne and her quirky guests, real women with unique stories and something to say. And though handsome Hal tempts RayAnne, he is a sponsor, rocketing him to the top of her don'ts list. Just when she's shedding uncertainty, RayAnne's world nearly capsizes, and she's faced with gut-wrenching choices. Will she live by the rules, or by her heart?

Critique: "Fishing with Rayanne" is a compelling and deftly crafted novel from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fishing with Rayanne" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Hierarchy From Love
Julie Holbrook
Five Star Publications Inc.
PO Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589852280, $16.95, 282pp,

Synopsis: "Hierarchy from Love: Divine Guidance for a Soul-Driven Planet" by Julie Holbrook is a powerful expression of the author's knowledge that love must triumph over fear to restore and rebalance the Earth and human lives. Written to encourage a reconnecting to divine truths, "Hierarchy From Love" outlines the critical issues facing the nature and nurture of life on our planet, exploring contemporary challenges to evoke deeper meaning and ignite necessary successful changes. Earth, asserts Holbrook, is a dynamic, living entity designed to support everything in nature equally. It can remain so only if cared for in the way God intended. Sadly, the Earth is crying out in every aspect of human life and throughout the realm of nature that it is suffering and is no longer in balance. From increasingly erratic and devastating weather patterns to breaches in human trust and security, the obstacles facing the world are connected, and they come from the same source -- the energy of fear. Thankfully, Earth can be restored to become once again abundant and sustainable through a countering, empowering energy force. What is the answer? Read "Hierarchy From Love", then check in with your heart and listen to your soul.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and impressively well organized in its presentation, "Hierarchy from Love: Divine Guidance for a Soul-Driven Planet" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring. "Hierarchy from Love" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Hierarchy from Love" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite
Joan L. Brown, editor
Modern Language Association
26 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10004-1789
9781603291323, $19.95, 292pp,

Synopsis: The career of Spain's celebrated author Carmen Martin Gaite spanned the Spanish Civil War, Franco's dictatorship, and the nation's transition to democracy. She wrote fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays for television and film, and books of literary and cultural analysis. The only person to win Spain's National Prize for Literature (Premio Nacional de las Letras) twice, Martin Gaite explored and blended a range of genres, from social realism to the fantastic, as she took up issues of gender, class, economics, and aesthetics in a time of political upheaval. Part 1 ("Materials") of "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" provides resources for instructors and a literary-historical chronology. The essays in part 2 ("Approaches") consider Martin Gaite's best-known novel, The Back Room (El cuarto de atras), and other works from various perspectives: narratological, feminist, sociocultural, stylistic. In an appendix, Joan L. Brown (the volume editor who was a friend of the author) provides a new translation of Martin Gaite's only autobiographical sketch, alongside the original Spanish.

Critique: "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" is a solid body of seminal scholarship showcasing the literary contributions, style, and accomplishments of Carmen Martin Gaite and will prove to be an invaluable reference for any classroom curriculum. Very strongly recommended for academic library Spanish Literature reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.75).

Undocumented Latino Youth
Marisol Clark-Ibanez
Lynne Rienner Publishers
1800 30th Street, Suite 314, Boulder, CO 80301
9781626372603, $68.50, 265pp,

Synopsis: Though often overlooked in heated debates, nearly 1.8 million undocumented immigrants are under the age of 18. How do immigration policies shape the lives of these young people? How do local and state laws that are seemingly unrelated to undocumented communities negatively affect them? In "Undocumented Latino Youth: Navigating Their Worlds), author Marisol Clark-Ibanez (associate professor of sociology at California State University - San Marcos.) delivers an intimate look at growing up as an undocumented Latino immigrant, analyzing the social and legal dynamics that shape everyday life in and out of school.

Critique: An invaluable, impressively researched, exceptionally well written, organized and presented study, "Undocumented Latino Youth: Navigating Their Worlds" is an invaluable and essential addition to community and academic library Latino Studies reference collections and reading lists. Enhanced with three appendices, a twenty-four page list of References, and a ten page Index, "Undocumented Latino Youth" will prove of immense value to both scholars and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Latino youth related immigration issues.

Behind The Smile
Jeannie Morris
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781572841765, $27.00, 384pp,

Synopsis: In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first, and to this day only, African-American woman elected to the US Senate. Long before this historic victory, which Barack Obama would later say prefigured his own path to the Senate and presidency, veteran Chicago journalist Jeannie Morris saw an incredible opportunity. Here was a bold and politically courageous candidate, a feminist and sensible progressive with whom Morris quickly identified on a personal level. Morris joined the campaign to write the official story of a brilliant retail politician with a charismatic smile. What happened next resulted in a story that went well beyond what Morris could have imagined. "Behind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun's Historic Senate Campaign" is the riveting campaign-trail memoir of a journalist coming to grips with the shortcomings of an ascendant politician -- a charismatic trailblazer whose personal relationship with a key staffer led to her undoing. The narrative unfolds as the personal journey of a sympathetic reporter reconciling her own belief in an inspiring figure with her responsibility to deliver the facts. "Behind the Smile" brings the social and political impact of Moseley Braun's story from her meteoric rise to her eventual downfall into clear focus.

Critique: An exceptionally impressive, organized, and informative political narrative expertly presented from beginning to end, "Behind the Smile: A Story of Carol Moseley Braun's Historic Senate Campaign" is an impressive account and very highly recommended for both community and academic library Political Science, American Biography, and African-American Studies reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Behind the Smile" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.90).

Wine Trails: 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country
Mark Andrew, et al.
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781743607503, $24.99, 320pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Mark Andrew, Robin Barton, Sarah Bennett, Lee Snider, John Brunton, Bridget Gleeson, Virginia Maxwell, Jeremy Quinn, Helen Ranger, and Luke Waterson, "Wine Trails: 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country", the debut volume in Lonely Planet's new "Perfect Weekends" series, and introduces the secret gems in such well-known regions such as Napa and Sonoma, Tuscany, Burgundy and Rioja, and also explores off-the-beaten-path regions in Georgia, Greece and beyond. Detailed itineraries recommending the most interesting wineries and the best places to stay and eat in 52 wine regions near major cities make this perfect for travel enthusiasts who enjoy wine. Professional winemakers offer personal insights into what wines to taste and why they're special and help you to understand a place, its people and their traditions through the wine that is made there. Gorgeous photography, maps and in-the-know authors complete "Wine Trails".

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout, "Wine Trails: 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country" is exceptionally well organized, impressively detailed, and thoroughly 'user friendly' for planning weekend itineraries. "Wine Trails" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Travel Guide reference collections.

The Art of Gardening
R. William Thomas
Timber Press
133 S.W. Second Avenue, Suite 450, Portland OR 97204-3527
9781604695441, $34.95, 340pp,

Synopsis: Chanticleer has been called the most romantic, imaginative, and exciting public garden in America. It is a place of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home. And now those lessons are available for everyone in "The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer ", a visually stunning book where the full color photographic images by Rob Cardillo are enhanced with an informed and informative commentary by R. William Thomas! Aspiring and seasoned gardeners alike will learn techniques specific to different conditions and plant palettes; how to use hardscape materials in a fresh way; and how to achieve the perfect union between plant and site.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inherently fascinating and inspiring, "The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer" should be considered a 'must read' for all gardening enthusiasts and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Gardening Studies reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Art of Gardening" is also available in a Kindle edition ($22.39).

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

In Bitter Chill
Sarah Ward
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250069177, $25.99,

In 1978 Derbyshire, eight year old girls Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins walk to school when someone abducts them. A few hours after the tweeners were snatched, Rachel is found alive in the nearby woods. The kidnapper escaped and the other victim Sophie remained missing.

For the next three decades Sophie's depressed mom Yvonne grieved her loss but always prayed for the safe return of her daughter until now when she abruptly commits suicide. Deeply troubled by Yvonne's death, Detective Inspector Francis Sadler wants to know what really triggered the mom to kill herself after suffering the loss for thirty years yet never gave up on her dream to hug her daughter. DI Sadler assigns Detective Constable Connie Childs and her unit to relook the cold case. They interview the reclusive survivor Rachel the genealogist, who insists she knows nothing. When the strangled corpse of a teacher who taught at the kidnapped girls' school in 1978 is uncovered, the cops and Rachel believe the perp is tying up loose ends.

This is an exciting British police procedural (and amateur sleuth) starring a solid cast who bring insight into women's issues in the workforce and in the Peak District three decades apart. Although readers will know the identity of the villain relatively early, thereby somewhat abating the cat and mouse tension; In Bitter Chill is a thrilling opening act.

Trouble on the Thames
Victor Bridges
Poisoned Pen British Library Crime Classics
c/o Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464204937, $12.95,

Depressed British Navy Lieutenant Commander Owen Bradwell returns to London believing his military career ended after the Admiralty brass sent him home on medical leave due to his recently occurred color blindness affliction. The assigned doctor informs him his chance of recovery is 1 in a thousand; thus his career sunk.

With the rise of the Nazis and their thirst for war, and checking with Bradwell's former superior officer Captain Carmichael, British Naval Intelligence Captain Greystoke feels the LTC can be a valuable needed asset. Because his new recruit personally knew the late treasonous Lieutenant A. G. Medlicot when both were stationed in China, Greystoke assigns him to infiltrate a German spy ring tied to the traitor. American expatriate and Mayflower Club owner Mark Craig heads the espionage cell working along the Thames. At the same time interior decorator Sally Deane tries to deal with Granville Sutton, who is blackmailing her sister Sheila and Craig. After being hit on the head, Bradwell regains consciousness to find Sutton's murdered corpse lying next to him. He next meets Deane when she saves his life.

This reprint of a fine 1945 published spy vs. spy thriller is a likable pre WWII drama. Though a bit fluffy at times due to lighthearted banter that feels out of place, but also somewhat mindful of Agent Carter; Trouble on the Thames entertains the audience.

The Santa Klaus Murder
Mavis Doriel Hay
Poisoned Pen British Library Crime Classics
c/o Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464204951, $12.95,

In Haulmshire County, three generations of the Melbury family, their professional staff and their servants arrive at Flaxmere to spend Christmas together. However, the annual gathering proves fatal to the family patriarch Sir Osmond when someone shoots him in his study on Christmas Day.

Chief Constable Colonel Halstock leads the homicide investigation into the death of his overbearing, obnoxious neighbor. As he considers every adult at the gathering a suspect, Halstock muses over what took so long for someone to kill Osmond. After interviewing everyone and looking for clues at the crime scene, the only individual with opportunity is Santa Klaus who lacked a motive for murdering the victim. As he continues to grill the family and seeks why, each interviewee keeps modifying their story.

An entertaining English Golden Age manor house police procedural, The Santa Klaus Murder is a wonderful whodunit due to a rigidly adhered to SOP-oriented lead constable who personally knows many of the suspects and the victim. Character-driven, subgenre fans will appreciate this "historical" holiday homicide and want to read Mavis Doriel Hay's other 1930s mysteries (see Murder Underground and Death on the Cherwell).

The Sea Beach Line
Ben Nadler
Fig Tree Books
9781941493083, $15.95,

Kicked out of Oberlin for drug abuse, Isaac "Izzy" Edel stays with his mom and accountant stepfather in New Mexico. When he receives a letter from his estranged dad Alojzy the street schemer, Izzy ignores it though the ramblings shake him up. Two days later a second post from a stranger Semyon Goldov arrives claiming Alojzy is dead.

With a need to know the truth about the alleged demise of his sire and learn more about his paternal post WWII Polish roots, Izzy heads to New York, the site of Alojzy's book peddling business. Moving into a storage unit, he begins his odyssey by taking over his dad's Greenwich Village street books for sale business and works odd jobs for an Uzbeki gangster. He meets Brooklynite Rayna who helps him on his quest, but the more Izzy finds out the more convoluted and confusing his father's world proves.

The Sea Beach Line is a mesmerizing Jewish street lit odyssey starring an enigmatic individual who readers will at times despise and yet also adore. The serpentine storyline merges Americanized assimilated Jewish mythos and the Talmud as the foundations of a confused young man's search for who his father truly was.

Everyone Has Their Reasons
Joseph Matthews
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629630946, $24.95,

In 1936, fifteen years old Polish-German Jew Herschel Grynszpan flees his homeland. Though the trek was perilous, he makes it to Paris. In 1938, Grynszpan calmly walks into the German embassy in Paris and assassinates a German consular official, Ernst von Rath. The Nazi regime appears irate in public while condoning the mass slaughter of Jews in Germany in the infamous Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass response. As the teen stands "trial" for murder; the Nazi propaganda machine blames Grynszpan and his abomination race for starting the European hostilities. However, Grynszpan proves much cleverer than thought; forcing the Fuhrer to personally delay the trial until other means of extermination can be executed.

Combining the agreed upon (by historiographers) known facts with the protagonist's fictional "letters" written to his appointed lawyer from his prison cell, this is a powerful historical drama mindful of Harlan Greene's equally excellent "The German Officer's Boy" (same lead). This is a timely tale with immigration and intolerance issues, and wall solutions (reminiscent of the "successes" by the Maginot Line and the Great Wall of China) still in the forefront today. Aptly titled Everyone Has Their Reasons is a tremendous pre WWII fictional account of a real incident used by propagandists to justify murder, torture, looting and destruction.

Valley Of Decision
Lynn Gentry
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476746418, $14.99,

Several years have passed since Dr. Lisbeth Hasting left behind her beloved barrister Cyprianus Thracius in third century Roman controlled Carthage. Both agreed to the separation to keep their daughter safe since his beloved offspring would be an Achilles' heel for Cyprianus as the leader of the persecuted (by Rome) Christians. Though she fiercely misses her mate, Lisbeth raises their child and uses her medical practice to control her sadness.

Disappointed with her mom's lack of effort over the last decade to bring her daddy home; teenage Maggie's paternal obsession leads her to take a radical course to persuade her father that his family (at least her as she doubts her mom cares) needs him. In Carthage, Maggie finds her grandmother accused of murder, but her attempts at rescue leads to a riot. The Proconsul demands the death of the troublemaking teen mastermind and her rebellious family.

The third Christian Chronicles of Carthage saga (see Return to Exile and Healer of Carthage) is a complex time travel family drama, but has a "deja vu all over again" (the late great Yogi Berra) feel to the overarching theme. Well written climaxing with a terrific unexpected but reasonable late twist, Valley Of Decision is a fine finish to a fabulous trilogy.

Pascal Garnier; Melanie Florence, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
9781910477045, $12.95,

Refusing to believe his beloved spouse died in a terrorist bombing, Brice the artist is frustrated and angry with his wife Emma for not being with him when Breton Removals arrive to take their stuff from their Lyons home to their rustic place in Valence. Several days alone in Valence with almost nothing unpacked except for a few necessities, increasingly depressed Brice still waits for Emma to join him.

As days become weeks, Brice rarely comes to the village, which adds an aura of mystery to Le Misanthrope. Eventually he meets Blanche who lives alone since her dad died. Her attraction to the newcomer spurs him to restart his recently on hold life; unaware what Blanche likes most about Brice is how much he looks like her late father.

Once again Pascal Garnier authors a very dark and gripping French middle class tragedy that as always provides insight into the downside of human relationships (see The Islanders, The A26, The Front Seat Passenger, and How's the Pain?). Character-driven by the "spiritual" needs of the lead couple, appropriately titled Boxes haunts Monsieur Garnier's fans.

Sagan, Paris 1954
Anne Berest; Heather Lloyd, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
9781908313898, $14.95,

In 1954, teenage amies Francoise Quoirez and Florence Malreaux enjoy Paris. Whereas Francoise is a bourgeoisie expelled from several schools, Florence is a drop out. Francoise admires her BFF who as a Jewish child joined the French Resistance, but is rewarded by society as an outcast reminder of the atrocities that Vichy France prefers to forget. Ironically Florence respects her BFF for fearlessly questioning French bourgeoisie society for de jure sexism in which women cannot work or own a bank account without male approval (she had to accept cash for winning a literary prize) and not so discrete racism for mistreatment of Jews.

To honor his late mom and her astonishing accomplishment on its Diamond Anniversary and her death ten years ago, Denis Westhoff commissions Anne Berest to write a special memoir in spite of the writer nee twenty-five years after the publication of Bonjour Tristesse. Depressed due to her separation from the father of her child, Anne analyzes data and interviews those who knew Francoise before she became the great "scandalous" author of teen angst alongside of Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye).

This is an appealing fictional memoir that focuses on what happened in 1954 to transform bourgeois teen wannabe writer Francoise Quoirez into award winning author Francoise Sagan. I found Ms. Berest's personal tsuris and healing interesting but somewhat disruptive of the fascinating look at the metamorphosis of a teen into Sagan. Still les lecteurs will appreciate this unique glimpse at an eventually influential writer just prior to her fame.

Three-Legged Horse
Russ Hall
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432830656, $25.95,

A decade after the Civil War ended, cowhand Lucas Brent, Francis Gallagher the eastern dime novel writer (as Ben Blunt), Preacher, a fancy lady, teenager Justin Bodeau and his father ride the stage in Texas Hill Country when outlaws attack it. The two company men, Justin's dad and the fancy lady die during the assault. Before leaving the robbers kill the horses and leave no water for those still alive. The four surviving passengers begin an arduous trek in the barren isolated land when Comanche led by revenge-seeking Bent Feather capture them and tie them to the ground so they can die slow deaths from heat and dehydration. Rangers rescue the men and take them to nearby Bentley.

In town the four go their separate ways with Justin finding his Aunt Sara Bolger who takes him in to live with her. As the fifteen years old lad adjusts to his new home and studies the map his father possessed that allegedly shows the location of gold cached during the War Between the States, a cattle war heats up with hired professional gunslingers endangering everyone in and around town.

Returning to post Civil War Texas Hill Country (see Sagebrush Westerns- Bent Red Moon), Russ Hall provides a tremendous 1870s saga starring an intrepid teen supported by a solid cast who bring to life time and place. Loaded with action from the opening stagecoach robbery and never easing off the accelerator until the final exciting climax; Mr. Hall transports genre fans to the era and locale; as we feel the dry heat stumbling alongside the survivors during their harrowing trek.

The Killing Kind
Chris Holm
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316259538, $26.00,

The Havana-based Corporation mob sends Cuban hitman Javier Cruz to Miami to take out Edgar Morales for buying property in the slummy Goulds neighborhood with a plan to gentrify it. Learning the hit former special ops officer officiously dead in combat Michael Hendricks and his partner the only other surviving member of his military unit wheelchair bound Lester determine Morales is ethical. Thus Hendricks offers to murder Cruz if Morales pays the fee of ten times that of what the Corporation paid their professional. Applying meticulous precision to avoid harming innocent bystanders, Hendricks executes the predator.

American crime syndicates become concerned with the phantom hitman killing hitmen. Thus their Council commissions top gun Alexander Engelmann, whose kills include numerous collateral damage victims, to exterminate the pest. As Engelmann researches his target to ascertain an Achilles' heel like a former girlfriend or his brother in arms; FBI Special Agents Charlotte Thompson and Henry Garfield hunt both pros though differ in their opinions as to whom the "ghost" murders.

Setting aside plausibility, The Killing Kind is a fantastic crime thriller starring the Good (Thompson), the Bad (Hendricks) and the Ugly (Engelmann). The rival killers and Charlie in this cat and mouse drama are fully-developed while the appreciative audience anticipates a wild royal rumble climatic confrontation with no inclination as to whom will walk away from the final showdown.

Hollow Man
Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633880863, $15.95,

The English solicitor Whitfield calls from Great Britain to inform Dominic in Austin that his parents were electrocuted while checking storm damage on the family farm. Having not seen them in over a decade after being exiled at sixteen for shooting a man in the face; Dominic struggles with his quivering mind's pictures of what they looked like. No funeral to arrange or farm to sell, Dominic authorizes Whitfield to spread their ashes as his parents wished while he remains in Texas.

Dominic knows he is a Hollow Man with no moral compass that he conceals behind facades of normalcy like being a prosecutor and guitarist. However a demotion to the Juvenile Justice Center angers Dominic, which makes it much more difficult to hide his psychopathic tendencies. His friend immigration lawyer Gus Cronstedt tells him about a heist of a client who collects rents in cash only. As Gus backs out of the planned robbery, Dominic recruits his computer savvy roommate Tristan Bell and former cop turned security guard Otto Bland as his robbery cohorts. "The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry" (Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck) as nothing works the way Dominic thought it would; leading to two deaths and law enforcement seeking the bumbling trio.

As Hugo Marston (see The Reluctant Matador) takes a breather, Mark Pryor provides readers with an awesome stand-alone suspense starring a macabrely fascinating amoral protagonist. The diabolically cunning and charming (that is his public mask) antihero turns the thriller into a superb psychological crime drama as he and his teammates affirm the "truism" of Murphy's Law.

Idyll Threats: A Thomas Lynch Novel
Stephanie Gayle
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633880788, $15.95,

In 1997, following the shooting death of his partner by a dealer last year, NYPD Detective Thomas Lynch leaves his Big Apple job to accept the position of Idyll, Connecticut Chief of Police. While off duty, a speeder interrupts Thomas' sad reflection on Rick's death. Thomas pulls over the moving violator; but Leo Wilton of nearby Ashford hits on him. They head to a dilapidated shack near Hought's Pond; where Thomas and Leo disturb a young heterosexual couple making out. Leo points out to the trespassers that his partner is a cop, which upsets Thomas as he prefers not advertising his badge when on a gay tryst.

On the Nipmuc Golf Course's ninth hole, groundskeeper Cal Jackson finds a female corpse. Thomas arrives at the scene and immediately sees the incompetence of his staff and the body of Cecilia North containing multiple gunshot holes. The case turns personal when Thomas realizes the victim is the twentyish woman chased out of the cabin last night. Fearing outing by either his almost sex partner or Cecilia's, Thomas gingerly investigates the homicide while trying to remain in the closet.

The first solid Lynch police procedural is somewhat linear except for the chief's desperate tactics to solve the case without being exposed. Lynch is a unique protagonist whose sex addiction led to his lower head resolving the ticket; while his sexual preference cover-up obfuscates the investigation. Idyll Threats reminds the audience how far much of society has come to accept LGBT First Amendment rights in less than two decades, but also cautions supporters that the cause is far from over as pockets of resistance remain.

A Red-Rose Chain
Seanan McGuire
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756408091, $7.99,

Portland, Oregon area Kingdom of Silences King Rhys declares war on the San Francisco based Kingdom of the Mists by claiming the latter committed treacherous acts when Queen Arden took the throne instead of the "rightful" ruler. Trying to prevent hostilities from heating up, Queen Arden assigns October Daye as a diplomat to negotiate a peaceful solution that may prevent many unnecessary Fae deaths.

Knowing there are much better choices at the Mists court than someone like her who shoots first, Toby concludes Arden cleverly selected her because she expected the usual chaotic destruction that Daye brings to wherever she goes. Thus Toby believes her real mission is to remove Rhys from the throne without causing bloodshed; which is okay by her because the king's gory viciousness towards her race of changelings is an abomination she cannot accept and besides he allied with the Mists' deposed, despotic and dead previous monarch. However, Toby and her retinue including her fiance Tybalt fail to account for diabolical Rhys' ability to manipulate his opponents. He now has her where he wants her because she possesses something he covets that Toby cannot afford to lose.

The ninth October Daye urban fantasy (see The Winter Long) is an exhilarating entry in which the heroine tries her best to prevent a Fae Pacific Coast war from occurring. Toby is awesome in her diplomatic role as she has to control her urge to kick butt while also accepting crap tossed in her face; and at the same time prevent Rhys from usurping a critical part of her. Series fans will relish this seemingly transitional novel with the overarching twist of October Daye, peace negotiator.

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
Bradley P. Beaulieu
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756409722 $24.95

Centuries ago, desert tribes attacked the sprawling city of Sharakhai. Twelve kings united and prayed to the Gods to save their urban home. When these rulers succeeded in turning away the threat, they also became immortal. Ever since they saved Sharakhai, the twelve, kept safe by chosen Silver Spears and Blade Maidens, have ruled with ruthless domination while living in ultra-posh conditions; at the same time keeping their groveling masses in abject poverty.

When Ceda was a child, the monarchs executed her beloved mother by stringing her naked body upside down and carving an odd symbol and accusations on her skin. Obsessed with revenge, now nineteen years old Ceda has become an accomplished pit gladiator searching for a royal weakness. Her best friend Emre, also seeking ways to destroy the odious Kings, allies with heartless fanatic Macide who believes innocent blood must fall as collateral damage in order to dethrone the kings. Emre also befriends fixated with rage Ramahd, who wants to kill Macide for murdering his wife and child in the name of freedom.

The first sword and sorcery Song of the Shattered Sands fantasy is a fantastic thriller starring a wonderful avenging female gladiator. Ceda makes the tale; especially her incredible flashbacks to her beloved mom, her friendship with Emre and a connection to the White Wolf. The other viewpoint subplots are well-written, but pale next to Ceda. Although the storyline starts slow as Bradley P. Beaulieu creates Sharakhai and introduces its key cast particularly the heroine, the various Kings, and the monarchs' opponents (afraid to even whisper rebellion); but once set the novel accelerates into an action-packed opening epic.

The Body Snatcher
Patricia Melo, author
Clifford E. Landers, translator
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524539, $14.95,

He lost his telemarketing job in Sao Paolo so he moved to Corumba on the Bolivian border. There he sleeps with Sulamita who keeps telling him to leave the small village to find work in the big city.

When he observes a plane crash into the nearby Paraguay River, he rushes to the site. Realizing immediately he cannot help or get help in time to save the life of the dying pilot, he steals a watch and a backpack filled with cocaine that he later tries to sell. When the police arrive, the body is missing. At the same time the man's drug sales angers the local mob who demand full remittance for the cocaine he "purchased". Abetted by Sulamita and a morgue's employee, he blackmail's the pilot's affluent family who agree to pay him if he returns the corpse. Now all he needs is an unrecognizable body.

This brilliant Brazilian corruption crime caper stars an antihero who's spiraling out of control escapades lead to a series of misadventures to the audience's reading pleasure. Fast-paced from the start, the tremendous Body Snatcher will have fans seeking other works by Patricia Melo (see The Killer and Lost World).

The Visitor
Brent Ayscough
Black Opal Books
9781626943223, $13.99,

The Federation of Planets assign xeno-anthropologist Tak to study sentient life on earth in order to assess whether the prime species, as it ventures into space, poses a threat to peaceful races in the galaxy. Following an off-planet preliminary analysis, she chooses the United States as her starting point due to this nation being the most technologically advanced on this orb. Thus she learns English and descends towards the country's center, Kansas.

However, on her first solo mission, Tak miscalculates America's radar system. Knowing she has been detected, Tak flees to Poland where she meets international arms merchant Baron Von Limbach. He mentors her on all things earthling; while she accompanies him on his newest paying (by a wealthy patron encouraged by a true believer East Indian woman) gig: returning the Dalai Lama to Tibet by liberating the nation from the Chinese annexation. To achieve his objective Von Limbach hires a Kazakhstan scientist to customize Ebola that will only attack Han Chinese. His efforts convince Tak that this world is ruthlessly deadly while the CIA and DOD plan to capture and question her using enhanced interrogation techniques; unaware that failure of her to return to her space ship means global destruction.

Applying to terrorism and war by extrapolating the efforts to DNA-customize medicine yet also mindful of what happened with atomic energy; Brent Ayscough authors a fabulous cautionary science fiction in which the critical storyline comes across very plausible. Adding depth to the thrilling plot is Tak's world tour as she tastes, hears and sees some of the pluses on this strange violent planet in which war seems to be the prime conflict resolution technique.

Robert Conroy
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780566, $25.00,

In 1945, Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels knows the end of the Third Reich is imminent. Though he supported the thousand-year vision of Hitler, Goebbels prepared an alternate National Redoubt plan in case the allies won. Thus when the final days can be counted on fingers, he leads what is left of the military and other loyal supporters to the German Alps to establish Germanica there.

General Eisenhower and other ally leaders fear a Nazi retreat state that would begin efforts to form a Fourth Reich in an area as difficult to mount an attack as Switzerland is. Meanwhile American military officer Scott Tanner, Czech refugee Lena Bobekova, and OSS operative Ernie Janek head to Germanica with a counter-scheme to destroy the last vestige of the Nazis before this evil can gain a foothold, fester and renew the war driven vision.

This is an intriguing alternate historical that provides a mesmerizing look at the Nazi National Redoubt fallback position to establish a holding pattern nation similar geographically to neighboring Switzerland. The supporting history and the extrapolation from what actually happened make for a fascinating thriller in spite of an underdeveloped key cast.

Future Wars . . . and Other Punchlines
Hank Davis, editor
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780801, $14.00

"The Abominable Earthman" by Frederik Pohl. When the aliens invade, the earthling becomes a hero in site of himself.

"Honorable Opponent" by Clifford D. Simak. The Galactic Confederacy fails to understand how they lost the war.

"Sentry" by Fredric Brown. Sentries prefer ennui.

"And Then There Was Peace" by Gordon R. Dickson. The war ended, but the arms remain.

"Fool's Mate" by Robert Sheckley. They knew the outcome, but the chess game must be played.

"Airborne All the Way" by David Drake. The dumb and dumber goblin crews drop rocks on the enemy.

"Mr. Jester" by Fred Saberhagen. Berserkers fail to understand an adversary using graveyard humor as a weapon.

"Custer's Last Jump" by Steven Utley & Howard Waldrop. Crazy Horse deploys a biplane squadron to fight Custer's dirigibles.

"Project Hush by William Tenn. Project Hush uses measures to conceal it from those who work on it.

"The Day They Got Boston" by Herbert Gold. The Soviet leader blames a drunk for the missile that fell in the Boston Commons; the M.A.D. response is Leningrad.

"The Gentle Earth" by Christopher Anvil. They arrive to conquer, but alien climate intercedes.

"Who Goes Boing?" by Sarah A. Hoyt. The Earth Exploration Corps sends specialists to determine whether the planet is safe for colonization.

"Historical Note" by Will F. Jenkins. In Omsk, Professor Rojestvensky applied the Bramwell-Weems Equation to reinvent the world.

"Into Each Life Some Periwinkles Must Fall" by Hank Davis. Fortean verticologist Dr. Greene investigate the phenomena.

"Success Story" by Earl Goodale. The Haldorean Empire deploys expendable Invasion Forces; but something strange occurs.

"The Spectre General" by Theodore R. Cogswell. It has been five centuries since the Galactic Empire collapsed, but a Light Maintenance Battalion steadfastly continues their repair mission until a coup leads to an awakening encounter.

This military science fiction anthology is an exciting collection; especially interesting are the thirteen stories published over fifty years ago.

Lord of Janissaries
Jerry Pournelle and Roland J. Green
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780795, $15.00

"Janissaries". In Africa, Cuban mercenaries trap American "soldiers" with no hope of rescue as their CIA leaders write them off as expendable. Suddenly a flying saucer lands near Captain Rick Galloway. Accompanied by Corporal Art Mason, Rick meets three aliens, who offer him and his unit escape from certain death. He and his men enter the ship that takes them to the moon. Inside the vessel Rick meets Agzaral the human who explains that they have three choices: remain on the moon; become experiments; or accept the positions of alien delegated overseers of another planet's sentient beings.

"Clan and Crown". In his castle on Tran, Lord Galloway celebrates as his wife Tylara gives birth to their child Isobel when a caravan arrives. Drantos Eqeta Ganton and his Companion Marrone greet the American expatriate travelers Ben Murphy and Lafferty Reznick, and their entourage. Murphy explains that the south is collapsing due to floods, plague and civil war between Caesars Marselius and Flaminius.

"Storms of Victory". Galloway and Mason overhear a commotion outside among the guards at a time when the human Shalnuksis pilot Les delivers supplies. As a conference begins to discuss Galactic Confederation geo-politics at a time when a world war seems imminent; Mason and Marrone lead a search of the complex after finding the corpse of a murdered sentry.

This omnibus reprints the three sensational Janissaries military-political science fiction thrillers as the overarching theme of transplanted humans from different eras and planets taking control of a backwater orb holds up superbly. Although lacking an overall series climax, this trilogy remains a delightful anti-prime directive saga.

Samuel Western
Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745743, $14.95,

In 1970 at the Ladderback Ranch in Idaho, University of California at Berkeley BFFs Eric Lindsay and Ward Fall go hunting accompanied by the former's twin sister Gwen. Ward starts to put away the shotgun, but accidentally fires a shot that instantly kills Gwen.

In 1998 on their Wyoming ranch, Ward's three children fear him especially when he frequently drinks to numb his guilt. His loving wife Lorraine tells him it is past time for his reconciliation with Eric. Meanwhile in Southern California renowned songwriter Eric remains in a rage that has intensified over the last quarter of a century. Encouraged by Lorraine, Ward invites Eric to their MK Ranch. Eric arrives and soon the once best friends head out on a hunt though the visitor plans to kill his host.

This is an interesting relationship drama starring two former buddies with dissimilar personalities but share in common being haunted by the accidental death. Ward and Eric seek atonement in radically different ways; whereas the rancher needs Eric to forgive him; the musician needs to kill his host in order to avenge his beloved sibling. Samuel Western writes a profound contemporary rustic thriller as the audience wonders if either is coming home.

Urban Flight
Jonathan Kirshner
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745736, $15.95,

As the Daily News reports President Ford tells New York City to financially "drop dead", WNYS-TV manager Jeb Morgan secretly expands the role of helicopter pilot Jason Sims beyond just flying traffic reporter Dave Edwards to report on the same snarled daily congestion. At a time when all Big Apple news including the Mets never changes from the horrific Jeb wants Jason to observe the city's questionable dealings from the sky.

As Jason increases his flying hours, his best friend investigative journalist Adam Shaker looks into a scandal that seemingly includes Mayor Cohen and the Brooklyn borough president. Soon Jason's additional "unreported" (to authorities as required) duties takes him to the heart of Adam's inquiry and both men to History Professor Alison Monroe.

This is an excellent look back at NYC during the Mayor Beame deadlock years in which corruption, garbage, traffic, and on the verge of bankruptcy ruled the city. In spite of the cast especially the thirty-something lead males being very interesting and fully developed and the suspense gripping; the collapsing city steals the show. As to the rhetorical question posed by Jason as to who (in 1975) goes to the ''The Bronx? No thonx!'' (Ogden Nash before he repented); I and my future husband proudly did as the Hunter (Lehman) College and Pelham Parkway-Allerton Ave. areas were great places for yuppies.

Fiction River: Recycled Pulp
John Helfers, editor
WMG Publishing
1845 SW Highway 101, Suite 2
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
9781561466382, $15.99,

"The Revolt of the Philosophers of Fomalhaul" by Phaeda Weldon. Raziel orders Aaron to kill the child or eternally fall from grace.

"Marvelous Contrivance of the Heart" by Cat Rambo. Rosie hates Mike's life-like dollhouse creations.

"The Flower of the Tabernacle" by Annie Reed. The cop investigates a suicide at St. Bart Church.

"Lost in the Tarnished Cube" by Thomas K. Carpenter. Vance chooses between foreclosure and a century of indentured servitude to a Dryad.

"Crypt of the Metal Ghouls" by Angela Penrose. The teens enter the ancient ruins of Ghoulhouse only to learn how it got its name.

"The Imperfect Otter Empire" by Dayle A. Dermatis. Depressed Alyse meets Matt at the otter exhibit.

"The Unknowable Mansion of the Night" by Sandra M. Odell. The zombie bar refuses to serve the deadhead.

"The Portal of Wrong Love" by Dean Wesley Smith. Front Desk Girl tells Poker Boy a couple vanished on the Strip.

"Sacred Poet from the Future" by Kelly Cairo. To change the future, Robert came to the past.

"Swamp of the Prehistoric Clan" by Christy Fifield. Hating their condo's living conditions the "Fossils" revolt.

"The Magnificent Citadel" by Rebecca M. Senese. Loathing schoolmate Tracy, Charlotte makes her vanish.

"Night of the Dancing Champions" by Kristine Katheryn Rusch. In 1941 Gertie jitterbugged with a man who kept dancing even in death.

"The Delicatessen from Beyond the Monolith" by Lisa Silverthorne. Cheating Brittany finds out her spouse the cop died on the job.

"Prism of the Crab Gods" by Kelly Washington. Oval Soccer Ball, Lopsided Spiderman and Intertwining Hearts protect the frightened child.

"The Gleaming Crater" by Thea Hutcheson. Willia, Janos the mage and Gymat the cat trek to learn why the Crogrom flee the Plains.

These enjoyable twisting short stories seem more like a stop in the Twilight Zone than pulp fiction.

Crystal Caves
Kristine Grayson
WMG Publishing
1845 SW Highway 101, Suite 2
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
9781561466351, $15.99,

Like her two BFFs (her half-sisters Tiffany (see Tiffany Tumbles) and Brittany) Crystal Chandler knows how fickle her father is when he replaced the Fates (for daring to disobey his latest amoral demand) with her and her siblings before firing them. No longer residents of Olympus; each sibling resides with their moms in America without their magic and very limited contact with one another.

Feeling lonely especially since her BFFs have loving moms who want them; her Mother calls her "The Unexpected Consequence of a Momentary Lapse of Judgment". Her stepfather ignores her; an "older" half-brother dubs her "The Unwelcome Visitor"; and three younger half-brothers fail to acknowledge her existence. Her only nearby friends (extremely loose definition) are at the exclusive school she attends. When she believes her shrink Megan failed her and that she does not belong with her maternal family, Crystal, who never decided anything, wants out of the agreement. However she cannot go home to Mount Olympus without the three Fates' intervention but her only hope to make contact is her fickle Father; which means owing him for eternity.

The second Interim Fates is an outstanding serious teen contemporary. The protagonist is the poster child for the original Maslow's Hierarchy as her biological, physiological and safety needs are met; but she lacks love and belongingness, esteem and self-actualization. Thus the storyline focuses once again on an outsider who fails to fit in after her fall from the top of the Pantheon to the bottom of an American high school, but Crystal has no loving support system unlike Tiffany. Crystal Caves is summed up in the immortal words of Yogi Bear: "...smarter than the average bear" but still don't belong here (or anywhere).

Cold As Ice
M.K. Gilroy
Sydney Lane Press
2000 Mallory Lane, Suite 130-229, Franklin, Tennessee 37067
9780991212477, $15.00,

At four in the morning in zero degree weather CPD Homicide Detective Kristen Conner plans to jog in Central Park on her last day in the city before returning home to Chicago. At the same time that Kristen begins her ill-advised run, someone murders church deacon and family man Edward Keltto. While his wife Nancy feels guilty over her plans to leave Edward, his delinquent intoxicated taxi driver Medved Kublanov sees his passenger airborne. As she continues her jog, Kristen stumbles across dying Frank Nelson who she later learns from NYPD was on the Homeland Security Flying Watch list.

NYPD allows Kristen to go home at a time the Russian Mafia begins a killing spree in the Big Apple. After attending a counseling session, Kristen returns to work only to learn an unknown assailant murdered her mom's neighbor. Meanwhile the Russians are coming to eliminate the potential Big Apple witness; collateral damage to the innocent like Kristen's mom is acceptable.

With a much more complex plot than above, the third tense Kristen Conner police procedural "whale" (see Cuts Like a Knife and Every Breath You Take) is an electrifying confrontational whodunit. NYPD Detective Barnes sums up the heroine when he asks Kristen who runs at four in the morning in zero degree weather.

The Fruitcake Murders
Ace Collins
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426771897, $14.99,

In 1926 Chicago, musing over his two children's diverse anticipation of the holidays with just a couple of days to Christmas; Jan Lewandowski leaves his home to walk to his small candy making factory. On the way he looks into Lombardi's Grocery and Produce where his fruitcakes are on sale; only to find none on display. Angrily he enters the store to confront Lombardi but is greeted by the silence of the storeowner's corpse. CPD arrests Lewandowski, who insists he is innocent, but is executed for the murder of Lombardi.

Two decades later, WWII veteran CPD Detective Lane Walker investigates the murder of Ethan Elrod. Chicago Herald reporter Tiffany Clayton arrives at the scene to interview Mr. Elrod only to learn from Walker he is dead. As the cop and the journalist squabble over their history together, they separately and at times very reluctantly join forces looking into the homicides of several men; who have in common death by Lewandowski's missing fruitcakes.

This quirky post WWII police procedural captures the essence of the classic 1940s murder mysteries while also making a strong case against the death penalty in the very state that analyzed its capital cases leading to a moratorium and eventually repeal. Although the leads' incessant bickering gets old fast, for the most part The Fruitcake Murders is outstanding especially when the focus is on the captivating converging cases.

Miracle Drug
Richard L. Mabry, M.D.
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781630881184, $14.99,

Dr. Ben Lambert accompanied former American President David Madison on a South American fact-finding trip in order to select the best location for a new clinic. In Colombia, an assailant enters Lambert's hotel room and stabs the physician. In disbelief Lambert dies moments later.

Dr. Josh Pearson replaces his late colleague as the retired POTUS' personal physician at a time when Madison appears dying from an apparent unknown and seemingly untreatable disease. Also deathly ill from the same contagion is the woman Josh loves, Nurse Rachel Moore. The only potential cure is a drug the FDA disapproved usage of during the trial period. At the same time that Josh struggles with ethics as the amount left of the disavowed yet hopefully Miracle Drug might not be enough to save one person if it even works; Ben's corpse mysteriously vanishes.

This electrifying medical thriller grips the audience from the opening Lambert murder sequence until the final confrontation with a killer and a killing disease. Though too many happenchance moments occur that keep the hero ticking; Miracle Drug is a timely, cautionary suspense in which the worlds of politics, healthcare policies and applications, and religious dogma collide.

Twice Blessed
Barbara Cameron
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781630881115, $14.99,

"Her Sister's Shadow." Twins Katie and Rosie Stoltzfus have always done everything together. Currently, they work at an Amish store and own Two Peas in A Pod selling canned vegetables and fruits grown in their garden. They love and adore each other, but the more introverted Rosie wants some time away from "Her Sister's Shadow." When she meets Jacob, Rosie feels he is the one; but doubts he notice her when Katie lights up the world.

"His Brother's Keeper." Twins Mark and Ben Fisher have two different personalities but both love their childhood friend Ruth. Ben is heartbroken because he knows he is wrong to covet his bruder's fiancee, but cannot stop himself from loving her. When the brothers drive a buggy, a speeding truck heads towards them on their side of the road before crashing into them. At the hospital Ruth identifies semiconscious Ben as her Mark; while the real Mark lies comatose. Though he knows he should not, Ben fails to correct the mistake because selfishly he wants Ruth at his bedside.

These affable Amish holiday romances star two different sets of identical twins. Even with straightforward and somewhat similar plots, readers will sing "Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful ..." (Let It Snow by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne); as Barbara Cameron warms her readers with Twice Blessed comfy Christmas contemporaries.

Beyond The Cherokee Trail
Lisa Carter
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426795466, $14.99,

In 2018 the Prairie N--- members claim the attack at the Trail of Trails Interpretive Center in Cartridge Cove, North Carolina. They warn the staff to shut down the festival commemorating the 180th-year since the tragic forced march or else burn. Linden Birchfield, who recently arrived from Raleigh, refuses as she believes in the importance of this event. She becomes further animated when she finds a journal from a volunteer Trail of Tears' marcher.

In 1837, Nurse Sarah Jane Hopkins accompanies the beleaguered Cherokee on their forced march from Georgia to Oklahoma in order to help the sick and injured. Reading Sarah Jane's odyssey encourages Linden to remain resolute though someone wants her and her program dead. Though he has doubts about a relationship with Sarah Jane, Walker Crowe knows he loves this obstinate woman though he loathes her festival.

Beyond The Cherokee Trail is a fabulous drama due to the journal that brings alive the harrowing ordeal of the forced trek by someone who did not have to go. The well-written romance surprisingly enhances the historical subplot because in spite of the man she cherishes and others demanding the gala aborted; Linden finds strength in what Sarah Jane willingly did.

Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 1950s
Sarah Weinman, editor
Library of America
14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022
9781598534511, $70.00,

The 1950s:

"The Blunderer" by Patricia Highsmith. Mentally worn out by his spouse Clara's neurosis, Walter's dreams of her death; which makes him the suspect when she dies in the identical manner of uxoricide victim Helen.

"Mischief" by Charlotte Armstrong. They innocently leave their nine years old child with a dangerously insane babysitter.

"Beast in View" by Margaret Millar. Thirtyish, affluent Helen has no friends except the captivating, yet threatening stranger on the phone.

"Fools' Gold" by Dolores Hitchens. Juvies Skip, Karen and Eddie plan a heist, but the pros learn of their scheme.

The 1940s:

"Laura" by Vera Caspary. NYPD detective McPherson investigates the murder of the faceless body of Laura, but also obsesses over the woman's portrait.

"The Horizontal Man" by Helen Eustis. The murder of the professor frightens the English Department who intellectualize the killing especially when a student confesses.

"In a Lonely Place" by Dorothy B. Hughes. In post WWII, Steele rapes and murders women; but the former USAF pilot is careful until he meets Laurel.

"The Blank Wall" by Elisabeth Sanxay. During WWII while her husband serves in the Navy Lucia discovers her teenage daughter's affair with a sleaze; she takes action to protect her cub, but what she did leads to blackmail.

These are eight excellent suspense dramas that give readers a sense of time and place within taut thrillers. Part of the fun is comparing the novels to the movie versions based on them.

Mystery Rider
MiraLee Ferrell
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434707376, $7.99,

In ODell, Oregon teens BFFs Tori, Colt and to a much lesser degree of acceptance Kate welcome former adversary Melissa as a friend. While Tori and Colt have no ill-will or doubt towards the newest horse-riding musketeer, Kate remains suspicious of her former rival's intentions.

At the same time that Kate is a doubting Thomasina re Melissa, the quartet notices a hooded horse-person on a black steed riding at night near the Ferris' barn. Perplexed and concerned the buddies seek the identity of the rider and to learn the reasons he or she conceals her face and why that person is on Ferris property.

Middle school fans will appreciate the third "Horses and Friends" juvenile Christian drama (see A Horse for Kate and Silver Spurs) as the terrific threesome ostensibly becomes a fearsome foursome. The action-packed Mystery Rider subplot provides the suspense, but it is the changing dynamic between once and maybe still enemies that that brings reflective morality to the superb saga.

David Walton
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633880986, $17.00,

Fifteen years ago, paranoid physicist Ryan Oronzi created super soldier technology that led to the creation of a seemingly invincible quantum species the Varcolac. This new creature took control of Dr. Oronzi's mind with megalomaniac plans to rule the world. However Jacob Kelley and his daughter Alessandra split into Sandra the cop and Alex the physicist defeated the Varcolac (see Superposition).

In the present Jacob enjoys a baseball game with over 40,000 other fans at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park when something devastated the ballpark killing everyone there including Jacob. At the horrific mass murder sight, Jacob's police officer daughter Sandra sees his corpse at the same time she receives a call from her dad. Meanwhile even more unhinged New Jersey Supercollider's High Energy Lab chief scientist Oronzi continues to develop a super weapon inside a "universe", but has second thoughts re the test as he fears the Varcolac resides inside this prison. When the ultimate evil fulfills Oronzi's prophecy, Alex kills a VIP whom Varcolac possessed. With the same personal goal as her "twin" to avoid reuniting, Alex, accompanied by Oronzi break Jean Massey out of prison in a last ditch effort to prevent the Varcolac from world domination.

The stupendous sequel to Superposition is an action-packed, over the top of the Kittatinny Mountains science fiction. Faster than a subatomic particle inside a supercollider, Supersymmetry is a gripping thriller.

Earth Flight
Janet Edwards
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633880924, $17.99,

Towards the end of the twenty-eighth century, mankind lives on over 1200 planets due to the ease in which 99.9% of humanity can use portals to instantly teleport amongst the myriad of orbs. In spite of her recent incredible archaeological rescue in the ruins of what were once Manhattan and her astonishing military deeds, teenager Jaara Tell Morath remains handicapped by her immune system to stay permanently on Planet One with no basic human rights. Her feelings of being a left behind second class citizen were heightened by her parents' abandonment as a baby and called a Neanderthal ape all her life.

Hate crime attacks on the Handicapped increase dramatically. At the same time working for the military, Jaara and her normal boyfriend Fian Andrej Eklund decipher a recently found ancient alien probe that proclaims a major threat to all humanity exists. Jaara is the solo hope for a savior, but she must instantly teleport to a world far, far away from her earthbound home. She accepts a life threatening experimental surgery to enable her to accomplish the mission.

The third Jaara futuristic middle school science fiction (see Earth Star and Earth Girl) is a fine fast-paced finish to a fascinating trilogy though this entry loses some of its social awareness (re the harmful effects of prejudice) with the operation that normalizes the heroine. Tweener and young teens will enjoy the daring deeds of Jaara who refused to be stereotyped; and her supportive boyfriend who believes his beloved can do anything a Norm can do and more.

As Patient As Death
Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler
Writers-Exchange E-Publishing
PO Box 372, Atherton Qld 4883, Australia
9781925191066, $9.99,

In Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin, cop wives Lisa Shasta and Melody Vincent are horrified by the spousal neglect by their outward charming new neighbor workaholic Jerome Boca who never seems to be home in spite of his terminal ill wife Eva dying from cancer. Unable to ignore Eva's plight and disregarding her husband Peter's warning to mind her business and spend her time nurturing their recently adopted baby; Lisa decides to be there for dying Eva.

As Lisa befriends Eva, she begins to find out more about the relationship between the cancer stricken wife and her husband. Especially frightening Lisa is the fact that twice-widowed Jerome collected on life insurance policies when his previous terminally ill wives died. While Peter insists this is not a FBPD matter, Lisa keeps digging when Lisa abruptly announces miraculously she is in remission.

The fifth Falcon's Bend mystery (see Romantic Notions and The Fifteenth Letter) is a twisting (even more than San Francisco's Lombard Street), tense amateur sleuth that contains a viable but stunning climax. Extremely difficult to put down for even a moment, the captivated audience (and Lisa) will want to know what really is going on with the Boca couple.

Perfect Reflection
Karen Wiesner
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781312395589, $14.95,

In Peaceful, Wisconsin A&A Design Elaina Houston reflects back to her childhood in which her parents demanded 24/7 perfect behavior (as defined by them) from her. She tried to live up to the parental paragon but failed as no person could meet the expectations demanded by her father and mother. Eventually she gave up attempting to live someone else's fantasy at the cost of internal tsuris; though since she quit trying Elaina almost always focuses on the bad from her past while ignoring the good. Her only reliefs from self-induced misery are her belief in the Lord, and her Odd Jobs co-worker and BFF Ethan Lynwood as he likes the "real" Elaina.

Super-egotistical Ethan believed in his unfailing genius that led him to make terrible errors that hurt others as he covered for the misdeeds of his father and especially his brother Sebastian. The camel's back broke when his sibling's actions led to the suicide of Abby, a girl Ethan liked. Giving up on "evil" Sebastian and deciding to leave his family behind in Chicago, Ethan fled to La Crosse to escape from his enabling mistakes; as he has learned wisdom without humility and passion for the Lord and people lead to prideful transgressions. Two years ago Ethan met Elaina. In love with God and each other, neither anticipated their pasts to arrive with vengeance.

The fifth fantastic Friendship Heirloom inspirational contemporary (see First Comes Love and Forever And All That Jazz) is a delightful novel starring two protagonists who turned to God to help them deal with dysfunctional family histories. The suspense comes late, but brings completeness (and full circle) to a tremendous drama.

Michael's Angel
Karen Wiesner
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781312769083, $14.95,

When Michael Fremont still was able to count his birthdays on his fingers, his mother told him she never wanted him just before she committed suicide in front of him. Over the next decade he bounced around the foster family program. The last few years he stayed with the aptly named Stern family in Chicago while his foster sister Eliza blackmailed him. However, in two weeks he will leave the system and the Sterns, and take his vulnerable BFF LeeAnn Wagner with him.

LeeAnn and her mother spent a lifetime running from her husband who wanted his cheating wife and someone else's child dead; since her dad died Leeann is seemingly is free, but remains haunted by her harrowing past. Meanwhile, feeling unworthy of LeeAnn, Michael panics when his desire for her seems out of control. After insuring her safety and heeding a pastor's advice, Michael enlists in the Marines.

When his military service ends, Michael needs to know how his angel is. In Peaceful, Wisconsin, Michael finds a much stronger LeeAnn. Already in love with each other and both finding solace with the Lord, he prays she gives him a second chance and she prays he takes a second chance. In the darkness looking into Eden, someone else covets a second chance at LeeAnn and if necessary Michael.

The second fantastic Friendship Heirloom inspirational romance (see Clumsy Girl's Guide To Falling In Love; LeeAnn is a support character) is a tense suspense starring two vulnerable lost souls finding each other twice while also obtaining solace with the Lord. His angel and her hero come together in a strong tale as Karen Wiesner provides an entertaining second chance drama.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine
Alex Brunkhorst
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317531, $26.99,

With the death of legendary Hollywood studio chief Joel Goldman, Los Angeles Times editor Phil Rubenstein, wanting a retrospective article, sends a low-level reporter Thomas Cleary to obtain quotes from the deceased's fiftyish daughter Lily and other "guests". Rubenstein expects Cleary will fail re Lily who loathes journalists, but might get something useful from the intoxicated at Goldman's Bel Air estate.

Upon meeting the reporter, Lily likes his Milwaukee Catholic honesty. To his astonishment, she asks Thomas to stay for dinner. At the repast, Thomas meets VIPs and their mates. They all like the Midwesterner and invite him to special events to boost his career. When Thomas attends a fundraiser at the Duplaine estate, no one else is there except Matilda Duplaine. Though meeting for the first time, they talk for hours; he likes her but she bewilders him. As they begin clandestine meetings, Matilda realizes she must leave home for the first time ever in her life if she is to continue to see Thomas. They go to Hawaii, but his curiosity gets the better of him as he seeks to solve the gilded enigma he loves.

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is a captivating Hollywood drama that reads like Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca in a Jackie Collins setting. Fans will empathize with Cleary who struggles with a desire to join the exclusive Hollywood club; yet also believes at the same time he is a minnow swimming amidst sharks. However, it is the mystery of Matilda that keeps the audience's attention because, like Cleary, we want to know more about her.

Canadian Wolf
Linda O. Johnston
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009527, $5.75,

Aware of the success of Alpha Force (see Loyal Wolf), Canada wants a home-grown team of shapeshifters to work on cases to similar those performed by this unique American military unit. Thus the brass assigns Alpha Force Lieutenant Selena Jennay to help the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to create their own shapeshifting team led by purebred human Sergeant Major Owen Dewirter.

Having had a dangerous experience with a shifter; the Canadian accepts the existence of the subspecies; but rejects the premises of changing without a full moon stimulus and retaining human cognizance in the beast form. To quickly provide him with proof of assertions, Selena changes into her wolf. Though he distrusts Selena and others like her, Owen insists on a real field test: rescue kidnap victims, catch their abductors and expose the traitor inside their team. Falling in love was not part of the mission.

The latest Alpha Force police procedural urban fantasy romance (see Untamed Wolf and Undercover Wolf) provides newness with the international twist and the gender-bending lead couple. Although the storyline starts somewhat slowly ironically due to the two fresh spins, the appealing leads and support cast make for an interesting romantic suspense.

Dragon's Promise
Denise Lynn
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009534, $5.75

Unlike his older brothers Braeden (see Dragon's Lair) and Cameron (see Dragon's Curse) who embraced their changeling wizard status, twentyish Sean Drake only wanted to be an ordinary human. However, one year ago, reality changed Sean's hopes when he shifted into a dragon for the first time. Now he considers returning to his family Dragon Lair after years away.

In a bar in the Detroit area, Sean's inner dragon marks Caitlin St. George as his. Though confused by their attraction they share a one night stand before going their separate ways. Pregnant, Caitlin's parents plan to give the baby away and marry her to a man who will control her worst urges. When Nathan the wizard kidnaps their infant, a desperate Caitlin informs Sean that he sired a child who was abducted. Avoiding Caitlin the dragon-slayer for distracting obvious reasons, Sean the dragon pursues Nathan in order to rescue his offspring and slay the abductor.

The third Drake romantic urban fantasy is a suspenseful super finish to the trilogy starring in this one the ultimate star-crossed lovers (her DNA demands fighting and slaying dragons like him and his to flight from her). Lynn world once again seems real especially the Drake family tree, but it is the protagonists who make this a winner as natural enemies united by their save their baby quest and love.

Running Wild
Susan Anderson
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373788460, $7.99

To escape temporarily from his overwhelming family, American Finn Kavanagh vacations in a small South American country El Tigre. To wash away some of his travel frustrations he stops in a cantina in the capital Santa Rosa when the beautiful blonde strolls into the bar. Stunned not only to see an apparent American female here, but even more astonishing is his desire for this stranger.

Magdalene Deluca arrived in her childhood home Santa Rosa searching for her missing missionary parents in spite of them practically abandoning her when she was a young teen. Following her as she leaves the cantina, Finn rescues Magdalene from a kidnapping attempt. He also joins her on her search and rescue mission; while the cartel targets her and by extension him.

Running Wild is an action-packed Amazonian romantic suspense starring two amiable leads (Finn was a support character in the Sisterhood Diaries) with polar opposite family issues. Although the protagonists are too perfect especially the blending of their specific skills even as the romance supersedes the danger, readers will relish this "rumble in the jungle" (hard to believe forty-one years have passed).

High Country Hideout
Elle James
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698615, $5.50

Soldier Angus Ketchum lost a leg during his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Covert Cowboys, Inc. hires the veteran though Angus cannot understand why Hank Derringer took on a Wounded Warrior as a field operative. Sexagenarian Last Chance Ranch foreman CW Reinhardt contacted his military buddy Derringer to provide protection for his boss Widow Reggie Davis and her five years old son Tad because of increasingly dangerous occurrences.

Derringer assigns Ketchum, who worked on a Texas ranch, as an undercover cowhand at the Colorado Rockies spread protecting Reggie and Tad. He meets the owner in the field when he rescues her from spooked cattle only to have her yell at him. Reggie has no money to pay Angus, but hesitantly even after CW's support, provides room and board for Angus and even more reluctantly his dog Ranger. When the peril mounts, the veteran and the canine rise to the occasion to keep safe the woman and child they adore.

The seventh Covert Cowboys Inc. romantic suspense (see Navy Seal Newlywed) is a pleasant contemporary in which for much of the storyline the emphasis is on caring relationships. There is action especially late in the plot, but the falling in love interplay between the Widow and the "One-Legged Cowboy" takes center stage.

Teasing Her Seal
Anne Marsh
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798674, $5.50

Their current mission abruptly aborted, US Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Gray Jackson and his unit immediately head to Belize where they will go undercover at luxurious Fantasy Island. Their new assignment is to capture a drug runner. Gray obtains a position as a massage therapist.

Unemployed emergency room surgeon Laney Parker leaves behind her cheating fiancee and her former six days a week trauma job in San Francisco to go on her nonrefundable honeymoon alone at Fantasy Island. When the masseur massages her, Laney and Gray think of heaven. Neither expected much more than a heated fling, but love enters the equation.

This Uniformly Hot! (see Anne Marsh's Wicked Secrets) contemporary is a heated romance, but never obtains the level of blazing scorcher anticipated from what readers learn early on about Fantasy Island (though hotter than Mr. Roarke's version). Still the audience will enjoy the mental and physical massages between the dazed doctor and the stunned SEAL as love leaves both fantasizing about happily ever after.

The Puppy Proposal
Katie Meyer
Harlequin Special Edition
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373659180, $5.50

Nic Caruso arrives in Paradise Isle, Florida to assess the locale as his family's potential next mega resort. When Nic rescues Murphy, a dog who lives up to his "legal" name, he also meets local veterinary technician Jillian Everett.

To his amazement, Nic finds Jillian so alluring that he ignores his mantra of family first. She wants to believe he is her Prince Charming, but after a childhood of foster care Jillian distrusts everyone, but especially handsome charmers who always have a devious agenda. While they fall in love; he knows the Caruso family construction project to lure tourists here will end his relationship with Jillian as her Paradise will become lost. While he struggles between his close-knit family and the love of his life, Jillian remains a doubting cynic that anyone truly wants her permanently at their side.

This engaging contemporary stars two opposites in love and a page stealing matchmaking canine; and ably supported by a robust secondary cast (his kin and her two future book leads BFFs). Though somewhat philosophically passive as the lead couple separately reflects back on their respective lives of with and without a loving family; the first Paradise Animal Clinic romance is a sunny delight.

Agent Zero
Lilith Saintcrow
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279357, $5.50

The IED in Mosul left soldier Reese crippled. The military offers Reese a chance to not only regain his health and more as a super-agent; if he agrees to take an experimental drug that overwhelmingly kills most volunteers. Code name Agent Six, Reese is one of the few survivors.

Holly the waitress at the dumpy Crossroads Diner receives two major emotional bombs when her doctor informs her she suffers from a terminal illness and her husband whom she supported through medical school dumps her. Stoic yet sad, Holly accepts she cannot do anything about either condition. Recently a strange man comes in every few days to order coffee he does not drink and says nothing but stares at her. Eventually Reese persuades Holly to meet him on her off day. Instead, someone abducts Holly. Knowing she is an expendable pawn used by those to get at him, Reese risks his life to free Holly from her captivity; but though successful his enemies ruthlessly pursue them.

With a nod to the X Files super soldier premise, Agent Zero is an exhilarating cat and mouse thriller. Fast-paced, readers will cheer on the emotionally disturbed protagonists as they struggle to survive while falling in love. Though the romance feels off-kilter as the audience will wonder about the injection side-effect on him and her rebounding from a horrid betrayal at a time she needed spousal support; subgenre fans will agree the intrigue is awesome.

Protecting the Colton Bride
Elle James
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279333, $5.50

On his father's Lucky C Ranch in Oklahoma, Daniel Colton runs a successful quarter horse program. However, Daniel wants to grow his operation, but as an illegitimate has limited means (except his paternal family who he prefers not to beg for help) to reach the top social tier he needs to support his expansion.

His diligent assistant Megan Talbot informs him that she must quit after only a few months on a job she loves due to her demanding father threatening to sell her horses if she fails to return to California and marry a man of their choice. Daniel suggests a marriage of convenience that will give him a ticket to the elite through his wife and Megan a husband so that her parents cannot choose her mate in a forced marriage. Although attracted to each other and share a common interest in horses, neither expected to fall in love; nor he risking his life to keep his wife safe from an assailant trying to kill her.

The fourth Coltons of Oklahoma (see The Temptation of Dr. Colton by Karen Whiddon) is an engaging fresh contemporary that deftly uses the marriage of convenience theme between amiable protagonists though this premise typically is found in historical romances. Although the viable death threat adds exhilarating suspense, the subplot feels unnecessary as the delightful love story of Daniel and Megan is what makes this a marvelous read.

The Cowboy and the Lady
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373755837, $5.50

In Indiana, Deborah Kincannon informs her husband John that she is going to bail out her younger brother Ryan who lives with them. Resentful, angrily John orders his wife to leave the fifteen year old miscreant rot in jail. Further stunning Deborah, John insists she choose between him and her wastrel sibling.

Knowing her marriage of four years ended and she was drowning; but also feeling her sibling needs a change of scenery and help, Deborah escorts troubled Ryan to the Healing Ranch in Forever, Texas. Upon meeting the two Hoosiers, Jackson White Eagle believes his pioneering ranch program can heal Ryan and even his worried older sister. Even knowing she plans to return home to Indiana Jackson hires Debi as a temporary nurse. As Ryan's soul heals, the Texas rancher and the Indiana nurse fall in love, but her stay is not Forever unless Jackson can persuade her otherwise.

The latest Forever, Texas romance (see the Murphy brothers in Her Forever Cowboy and Cowboy For Hire) is a wonderful contemporary starring two amiable leads and a troubled, somewhat naive but healing "matchmaker". Although resentful John feels unnecessary to the plot except adding stress to already stressed out Debi, and Ryan's emotional healing seems relatively too easy even with setbacks; readers will root for his continual improving mental health, and for The Cowboy and The Lady to make it forever.

Ransom Canyon
Jodi Thomas
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373788446, $7.99

In Crossroads, Texas fortyish widower rancher Staten Kirkland knows firsthand how much tragedy hurts and lingers since the deaths of his wife and son; so he keeps his heart protected by never allowing anyone to get to close to him. His best friend reticent farmer Quinn O'Grady is a highly regarded pianist who studied music in New York two decades ago. When she makes a request of him, a stunned Staten reconsiders their relationship.

Former convict Yancy Grey settles in Crossroads with plans for his second chance based on exploiting local vulnerabilities. When he meets several retirees at a senior's home, Yancy feels he hit the jackpot until he begins to care what happens to his elderly pigeons especially with the return of his felonious past.

Ranch-hand's son teenager Lucas Reyes attends school and works on Staten's spread to help pay for his future plans to attend college. On a trek with other teens into an abandoned house, he rescues the sheriff's daughter Lauren Brigham.

Leaving behind A Place Called Harmony, Jodi Thomas begins a new engrossing series starring an appealing ensemble cast who brings the aptly named small town of Crossroads to life. Rotating leads between the three males, Ransom Canyon provides readers with diverse relationships that focus on different types of love at dissimilar ages.

Safe In Noah's Arms
Mary Sullivan
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373609253, $6.75

In Accord, Colorado Judge Easton sentences affluent widow Monica Accord to 200 hours of community service on Noah Cameron's organic farm. Having driven under the influence Monica hit Noah, breaking his arm and destroyed his vintage bike.

Noah has had a crush on Monica for over two decades, but hates her shallowness. Already irate at her, Noah hates stuttering like he did as a teen; but also believes his farm-hand is pathetic when she destroys baby radishes that she thought were weeds. However when she accompanies him as he distributes food to needy families, he begins to reassess the airhead "Golden Girl" who is very kind to cancer victim Kaley and afterward lectures Noah on what he does wrong in helping the poor. When she fails to arrive at the farm, he rips into Monica who says he never set a schedule. Observing the entire affair, Kaley tells Noah he erred as Monica got her two part-time jobs and gave her clothing to dress properly. As they fall in love, Noah expects Monica to betray him the way the rich (like Deirdre in New Orleans) always do; so a theft only affirms his belief. At the same time Monica learns a lesson about family.

Readers will enjoy this pleasant contemporary romance starring two former secondary characters (see In From the Cold) who prove able to handle top billing. Feisty Monica makes the family drama engaging; as she refuses to take crap from her two employers, Noah and his mom. Noah is very realistic with his prejudice worn on his sleeve, but his constant instant condemnation of Monica becomes tiresome even if it rings authentic. This is a delightful Rocky Mountain romance.

His Son, Her Secret
Sarah M. Anderson
Harlequin Desire
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373734115, $5.25

In Denver, several of his brothers and their wives show Chef Byron Beaumont a place for him to open his restaurant. They see possibilities; he sees scrap needing a razing to start from scratch. Byron considers running back to Three-Star El Gallio in Madrid where he would not have to deal with his family's drama and worse their feuding enemies the Harper brood, especially Leona.

With a gut need to prove to himself he no longer cares about Leona; Byron hires her as his interior designer to renovate the dump. However, as Byron and Leona work together, he learns quickly that he still loves her; even when he hurt her with his desertion Leona always knew he was her one. However, Leona struggles to inform Byron of their six-month old baby Percy whom he never knew existed; while fearing what her dad will do including using her younger frightened sister May once he learns Byron is back.

The fourth Beaumont Heirs contemporary (see A Beaumont Christmas) is an enjoyable second chance Colorado romance. Although their feuding fathers (even with his dad dead for a decade) are over the top of the Rockies and the baby premise used frequently, Sarah M. Anderson authors a warm wonderful family drama.

Out of the Ashes
Cynthia Reese
Harlequin Heartwarming
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373367399, $6.50

In Levi County, Georgia, Kari Hendrix arrives at her bakery only to see the fire department putting out the blaze that devastates her shop and others on the downtown street. Investigating the arson, Fire Marshal Rob Monroe questions a shocked Kari who learns the cause was a propane tank left by the outside door. Kari insists she never placed the tank there but admits she spent four years as a teen in Juvie for her arson confession.

Having taken the blame for Jake's blaze as a teen after her mom begged her to keep her older brother out of jail since she would only get probation; Kari suspects he caused the fire that destroyed her business and that of others. Attracted to the baker, Rob believes Kari is innocent as is her sleazy landlord; but also thinks she is hiding something significant by protecting someone either her mom or more likely her obnoxious sibling. He never expected his inquiry to lead back to his father's unsolved death in a fire set by an arsonist over a decade ago.

The key to this engaging romantic suspense is the investigation rightfully supersedes while also negatively impacts the romance even as the Fire Marshall and readers know the culprit early on. Although the behavior of Kari's mom and brother are over the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, readers will enjoy this engrossing tale.

A Wedding for the Greek Tycoon
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Romance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373743537, $5.99

Giannopolous Foundation Charity covered the enormous non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer treatment bill of Zoe Zachos. When she learns from her caring doctor that her cancer is in remission for eight months, she vows to pay back those who kindly saved her life. However, the Foundation's hospital liaison efficient but unfriendly Ms. Alexandra Kallisto recommends Zoe become a nun.

When Vasso Giannopolous arrives in Astoria, Queens from Greece to review the books, Alex informs him that a former patient with Father Debakis support but who lacks education and experience applied for a job. As a favor to the priest, Vasso interviews Zoe. Afterward he discusses her with his brother; they agree to hire Zoe for a key position in Paxos, Greece. Relocated and still grateful to the Giannopolous family, Zoe never expected to fall in love with her benefactor; who already admires her compassion and begins to reciprocate her feelings.

The second Greek Billionaires contemporary (see The Millionaire's True Worth) is incredible when it focuses on the holistic health care of cancer victims including those in remission as the war never ends even if a person is considered free. When the well-written romance takes center stage, the storyline loses some of it inspiring robustness.

The Beautiful Ashes
Jeanine Frost
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779529, $7.99

In heavy rain in Bennington, Vermont, Ivy, following her late parents' trail that ended here in their accidental deaths, continues the search for her missing sister Jasmine and her sibling's boyfriend Tommy. She stops at an antique store where the proprietor Mrs. Paulson denies having seen the couple in the photo that Ivy shows her. Just as Ivy envisions her latest weird hallucination of Jasmine, Mrs. Paulson hits her in the head with a picture frame. Ivy escapes.

Back at her motel room, a stranger waiting for her warns Ivy she is going to have a bad night; not that her week has been good when Police Detective Kroger disrupts their discussion. Instead of arresting the intruder, Kroger assaults him before attacking Ivy. The trespasser Adrian rescues Ivy.

The first Broken Destiny urban fantasy starts with the pedal to the metal and never slows down as Adrian escorts the beleaguered, brave and obstinate heroine into a world she never imagined existed while her sisterly quest expands exponentially. Although Adrian's "support" or lack of needs much more explanation as we wonder about his allegiance; Jeanine Frost's opening act grips her fans from the fast-paced start to the climatic confrontation.

Brian Lutterman
Conquill Press
2325 Jarco Drive, Holt, Michigan, 48842
9780990846130, $15.00,

In Los Angeles the case against allegedly corrupt Congressman Luther Shields heads to court when all hell breaks loose. The lead prosecutor Adam Rosenthal abruptly quits without notice claiming an offer he could not refuse. The star witness to Shields accepting bribes from Defense contractor Pacific Technology Group; Lisa Darden vanishes without a trace. Second prosecution chair paraplegic Pen Wilkinson learns Lisa is not in her Minneapolis home or answering her phone; and her sister, neighbors and friends insist they have no idea where she is.

Though lacking experience, Pen takes over the government lead due to her being the most knowledgeable on the corruption case in the U.S. Attorney's Office. LAPD Detectives come to Pen's house to question her as to her relationship with Celia Sims and where she was last night. Someone murdered Celia on her former boyfriend (and Pen's current significant other) James Carter's boat "Alicia C". The police arrest James for Celia's murder though Pen remains a viable suspect. Threats mount on Pen as she diligently works the prosecution while trying to prove James (and herself) did not kill Celia.

The second Pen Wilkinson suspenseful legal thriller (see Downfall) is an exhilarating cautionary drama that builds suspense based on Lord Acton's late nineteenth century observation "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Pen remains a super lead (even in her few pages as second chair) as she learns first-hand the meaning of President Eisenhower's Farewell Address warning: "...we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial (and Congressional) complex".

The Darkness Hunter
Christopher Valen
Conquill Press
2325 Jarco Drive, Holt, Michigan, 48842
9780990846123, $15.00,

Senior St. Paul Homicide Detective Wendell Hudson, assisted by Detective John Santana, forensics specialists and the medical examiner, leads the investigation into the murder of seventeen year old Danielle Lonetree. The victim was found in a Hidden Falls Park shallow grave with a lock of her hair missing. Fifty yards from the corpse is an abandoned pickup truck that belongs to Clay Buck. Hudson turns the key left in the ignition, but the vehicle fails to turn over. The two cops visit Clay's Uncle Youngblood who keeps locks of hair that he claims is a Sioux tradition to honor deceased loved ones. The ME informs them the vic was sexually assaulted. All signs point to her boyfriend, still missing Clay.

Santana looks into one of his retired partner Hudson's cold cases; the murder of environmental engineer Sam Noor who was killed while working for opponents of silica mining. The detective uses the working premise that Noor's death involved his finding evidence of the harm caused by silica mining that may outweigh the Select Sands' claim this is a cleaner cheaper alternative to natural gas. Based on that assumption, Santana makes inquires; unaware that when he began, several personal threats will follow.

The latest John Santana police procedural (see White Tombs, The Black Minute, Bad Weeds Never Die, Bone Shadows and Death's Way) is a fantastic mystery that grips readers from the opening at Hidden Falls Park and never loses its hold until the final confrontation. Filled with action yet also containing key cerebral moments throughout, Christopher Valen once again affirms he is one of the subgenre's top guns.

Gestapo Mars
Victor Gischler
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781783297351, $14.95,

His first action after being awakened from a two and half plus century stasis sleep is to puke on the shoes of the whining cry-lab nerd. The other geek Glitter Tie begins to explain to Carter Sloan why he was awakened when they have contemporary superior operatives, but they are easily outed by all their implanted gizmos. An explosion interrupts them; followed by GT committing suicide. The jackbooted thugs enter the briefing room led by a frustrated captain who shoots three slugs into GT's corpse before telling Mr. Sloan they came to rescue him from rebels.

Tricking the rebels on Europa with a false success, Empire Internal Security Agent Armand escorts Sloan to their headquarters on Mars after the revived twentieth century man learns earthlings nuked the home planet into oblivion. Sloan's mission is to infiltrate the enemy by pretending to be a rebel asset so that he can assassinate the Brass Dragon's daughter.

Over the top of Olympus Mons, Gestapo Mars is a gory science fiction that provides a macabrely absorbing satirical future. While readers follow the bellicose bloody and sensationally sexual exploits of Sloan, his Nazis handlers are extrapolated caricatures of the 1940s variety (kept expecting them to dance to and sing "Springtime for Hitler" from the Producers). Once again Victor Gischler authors an outrageously entertaining saga with an intriguing final spin.

Adrian Barnes
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781783298228, $14.95,

As done every night, people around the world go to bed; but as the sun arises throughout the globe, less than 1% of humanity fell asleep. In Vancouver John the writer is one of the chosen few able to snooze and appreciate the shared dream of those who can; on the other hand his girlfriend Tanya has failed to sleep in about a week. Nothing helps her as he watches in horror at her mental decimation, increase anxiety and panic, and her body begins shutting down. John feels hopeless as he thinks of the land of Nod where Cain the exiled once dwelt.

Civilization collapses as days become weeks and the countdown to death has commenced for the Awakened throughout the earth; while our former pets dog hunt humans. Into the third week of mass sleep deprivation, the raging Awakened increase their stalking and killing the Sleepers. Trapped in his sixth floor apartment, John knows this personally as he wants to escape the human tragedy, but feels obligated to keep safe Tanya's beloved Zoe.

Based on the science of sleep, Nod is a superb apocalyptic thriller in which society implodes as overwhelmingly most people no longer function due to the inability to even doze. Told on a big picture scale and Paul's personal saga in the land of Nod, Adrian Barnes provides a wonderful, somewhat graphic, but very unique and brisk horror novel that redefines the 1%.

Shakespeare No More
Tony Hays
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745668, $15.95,

In 1616 Stratford, suffering from a horrific fever William Shakespeare nears death. He summons his former BFF wool merchant and Stratford Corporation Constable Simon Sadler to his dying bed. Shakespeare insists someone poisoned him. Even if he believed the dying Bard, which he does not, Sadler hates him for sleeping with his wife.

Physician John Hall believes his renowned but almost universally disliked father-in-law died from arsenic poisoning. Hall convinces the constable that someone murdered Shakespeare. However, though many Stratford residents including Sadler loathed Shakespeare, the constable diligently performs his duty and journeys to London because he thinks the killer resides there. Attempts on his life confirm Sadler's contention.

This excellent police procedural will thrill readers, but it is the early seventeenth century elements at Stratford and in King James court that makes this one of the best of historical novels of the year. With a powerful cast, a sense of readers feeling we are in 1616 England and a fascinating mystery, Tony Hays (see The Arthurian Mysteries) authors a taut whodunit.

Tipping the Valet: A Workplace Mystery
K.K. Beck
Perseverance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745637, $15.95,

University of Washington student Tyler Benson works as the Lead Service Associate at Elite Valet. The Seattle Account Manager for the Pittsburgh-based firm Jessica assigns Tyler to the top local account, the downtown exclusive Alba Restaurant for a one-night gala.

However, to his embarrassment, Tyler's alcoholic dad makes an appearance at Alba's properly dressed as a drunk in slippers. At the same a mortified Tyler tries to get his father to leave; a drive-by shooting aimed at techie billionaire Scott Duckworth occurs. Inadvertently Tyler finds a gun and a corpse in the trunk of a car in Alba's parking lot. Things turn odder to bewildered Tyler as cars are stolen, his dad seems to be part of a crime ring and he has no idea where Flavia Torcelli fits in the fiasco though he knows where he wants her to fit. All that is tame compared to the SPD and the Russian Mafia targeting Tyler though he confused as to why him.

This amusing, frantic suspense is a zany student in peril that any moment seems on the verge of going over the top of Mt. Rainier, but K.K. Beck shows her talent by keeping the storyline focused. Fans of madcap thrillers will relish the first Workplace Mystery as we root for the beleaguered valet to survive for another novel.

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

Ambitious Galaxy News Weekly tabloid reporter Jake Brenner searches for the supernatural story that will make him famous and wealthy. He knows his only hope at success resides with his best friend musician Desmond Fairweather, who seems to own a magical charm that ease people's natural reluctance to strangers. Jake blackmails Des to come with him to investigate talking flowers at the Snowden Estate in Maine in exchange for arranging an audition with the local symphony.

Upon arriving at their destination Jake feels immediately protective of vulnerable twentyish Christine Snowden. Des plays a composition he wrote on their host's piano; his music stirs hidden magical Kalida. Attracted to the pianist, Kalida keeps her distance for fear that her former Legion compatriots will leave the Caverns to hunt her down and anyone she cherishes like this Des.

Butterfly Waltz is a charming romantic fantasy in which readers will believe the Lovin' Spoonful is right in that the "magic's in the music and the music's in" (Des). The beguiling romances lead the audience to anticipate two diverse confrontations: one on the human plane and the other on an esoteric supernatural level.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Song Within My Heart
David Bouchard, author
Allen Sapp, artist
Northern Cree, musicians
Red Deer Press
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, L3R 4T8, Canada
9780889955004, $24.95 (Canada), $22.95 (US),

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award, "The Song Within My Heart" is a fine, deeply moving verse song/story in Cree and English that honors the close relationship between a Cree boy and his Nokum, or grandmother. Filled with original paintings by First Nations artist Allen Sapp, and accompanied by a CD of music performed by Northern Cree, "The Song Within My Heart" is a powerful, multi-sensory immersion experience in the life and culture of the Cree. Each page contains a beautiful realistic painting of life on the Reserve, accompanied by verses written in both Cree and English about "The Song Within My Heart." Scenes of a Cree grandmother feeding her chickens and making bannocks, Cree men playing the drum together, and fancy dancers performing at a pow wow illuminate the pages. One of the verses of the song is this: "A story is a sacred thing/ That should be passed from age to youth/ I choose to share my best with you/ That you might own and share them too./ And never use another's tale/ Unless he knows and he approves./ And only then and then alone/ Might you tell it to others." A fortunate audience of children of all ages and adults will receive the blessing of "The Song Within My Heart" in the reverent spirit it was sent. "If you, dear reader, hear me sing/ And can't make out my message./ You should not fret, I was like you/ I had to learn to listen too!/ To understand the song I sing/ Close your eyes and listen/ And try to hear the subtle things/ It's of my Nokum that I sing."

One Bear Extraordinaire
Jayme McGowan, author/illustrator
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9781419716546, $16.95,

"One Bear Extraordinaire" is a fabulous cut-paper art book about an amazing itinerant bear musician, known far and wide "across the wilderness for his nimble paws, honey harmonies, and twinkle-toed grace." One day Bear tried to play the song he heard in his head and there was something missing. He wandered through the forest looking high and low for his song and whistling. He was answered by a Fox who played a banjo, who decided to join the journey/quest for the elements of the elusive song. In like manner, the two encounter an accordion playing raccoon, a fiddle playing rabbit, and last of all, a determined wolf pup who struggled to find an instrument to fit his talents. The musicians paused for a night camp, still playing together, but still seeking that certain something that was missing. Suddenly the white moon shone on the wolf pup, who sang "Awooooooo" in a melodious, wild wondrous wolf pup voice. "THAT'S IT!" shouted all the band. So the band of the Bear Extraordinaire and friends whooped and hollered with their singer wolf pup to the stars "and the tune sounded just right." "One Bear Extraordinaire" ends with a charming cut-paper portrait of all the band asleep after a happy night of wonderful harmonious song. The lilting, evocative verse narrates the tale which is beautifully expressed in the amazing series of cut -paper illustrations in this amazing young children's tale. Three dimensional, playful portraits invite the reader to enter into this magical forest world of the bear and his incredible band of musicians.

Saving Annie's Mountain
Lillie Gill-Newton, et al.
O'Ryan, illustrator
Cold Run Books
P.O. Box 651, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
9780979080814, $18.99,

The collaborative work of Lillie Gill-Newton, Nicholas Mokhiber, Maryam Keeley, Samantha Stewart, and the Children of Wind Dance Farm, "Saving Annie's Mountain" is a story about four school children in West Virginia who attend a march on Blair Mountain to protest the destruction of the mountain by a surface-mining coal company. Jessica, Melanie, Valerie, and Alex all plan to document, observe, and participate in the event for current studies assignments. In the process, the children meet local people from Blair Mountain who have conflicting feelings about the proposed mining project and the protest. Blair Mountain was also the site of a coal miners' labor protest back in 1921. The meet and interview a nonagenarian mountain cabin dweller named Annie who remembers the coal miners conflict because she lived through it. The children emerge from their many different interview experiences and rejoin the march up Blair Mountain to help save the precious piece of land they now call Annie's Mountain. "Saving Annie's Mountain" has additional educational resources suggested, including two songs about Appalachian coal country, "Grandmother Mountain" and "Timber and Coal," available at, The inside covers also have additional information about coal, energy production, and common plants found in West Virginia. "Saving Annie's Mountain" is an excellent educational experience for middle grade students of American labor and social history.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Free Blacks in Antebellum Texas
Bruce A. Glasrud & Milton S. Jordan, editors
University of North Texas Press
PO Box 311336, Denton, TX 76203-1336
9781574416145, $45.00, 320pp,

Synopsis: "Free Blacks in Antebellum Texas" is an anthology of essays by Harold R. Schoen and Andrew Forest Muir, two early scholars who conducted the most complete studies on the topic but never published their research as a book. Schoen published six articles on "The Free Negro in Republic of Texas" and Muir four articles on free blacks in Texas before the Civil War. Free black Texans experienced the dangers and risks of life on the frontier in Texas. Those experiences, and many others, required of them a strength and fortitude that evidenced the spirit and abilities of free blacks in antebellum Texas. Sometimes with support from a few whites, as well as their own efforts, they struggled and survived.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Bruce A. Glasrud (Professor Emeritus of History, California State University, East Bay) and Milton S. Jordan (a native Texan and a past president of the East Texas Historical Association), "Free Blacks in Antebellum Texas" is an impressively organized and presented body of original scholarship

Editors Bruce A. Glasrud and Milton S. Jordan include a thoughtful introduction and a wide-ranging bibliography in the form of ten seminal articles of impeccable scholarship. Enhanced with the inclusion of an eight page bibliography of secondary sources, and a thirty-seven page index, "Free Blacks in Antebellum Texas" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Texas History reference collections in general, and Black Studies supplemental reading lists in particular.

Dick Cole's War
Dennis R. Okerstrom
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826220660, $29.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: With the 100th anniversary of his birth on September 7, 2015 Dick Cole has long stood in the powerful spotlight of fame that has followed him since his B-25 was launched from a Navy carrier and flown toward Japan just four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In recognition the tremendous boost Doolittle's Raid gave American morale, members of The Tokyo Doolittle Raiders were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in May 2014. Doolittle's Raid was only the opening act of Cole's flying career during the war. When that mission was complete and all of the 16 aircraft had crash-landed in China, many of the survivors were assigned to combat units in Europe. Cole remained in India after their rescue and was assigned to Ferrying Command, flying the Hump of the Himalayas for a year in the world's worst weather, with inadequate aircraft, few aids to navigation, and inaccurate maps. More than 600 aircraft with their crews were lost during this monumental effort to keep China in the war, but Cole survived and rotated home in 1943. He was home just a few months when he was recruited for the First Air Commandos and he returned to India to participate in Project 9, the aerial invasion of Burma.

Critique: "Dick Cole's War: Doolittle Raider, Hump Pilot, Air Commando" by Dennis R. Okerstrom (Professor of English at Park University, a certified flight instructor, and a military buff of long standing) is an impressively researched and informative military biography that is very highly recommended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in World War II Military Aviation History, as well as both community and academic library World War II American Military Biography reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die
Paul Condon, editor
c/o Rizzoli
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9780789329387, $35.95, 960pp,

Synopsis: In "1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die", Paul Condon has compiled the most groundbreaking and important must-see shows from the 1950s to today's golden age of television. Nicely illustrated throughout, "1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die" succinctly showcases the best programs produced for television from its inception to the bumper crop of great shows being produced in today's era of original cable programming and digital streaming. Offering a critical evaluation of the most important and groundbreaking TV programs ever created, "1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die" tracks television's evolution through decades of social, cultural, and stylistic change. Included are shows that broke new ground, influenced the future, and left a lasting mark, ranging from the wholesomeness of Leave It to Beaver or The Andy Griffith Show through the mod cool of Laugh-In and The Avengers to the present day. Every important genre and era is represented, from award-winning sitcoms such as All in the Family and Seinfeld to the recent wave of high-quality cable series, including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. "1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die" is the perfect guide to what next to binge watch -- every program is available via DVD or streaming on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for dedicated fans of television programming, "1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die" is deftly organized decade by decade beginning with Pre-1960s TV shows, the followed by the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. Of special note is the inclusion of a eight page Index. A pure and nostalgic pleasure to simply browse through, "1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die" should be a part of every personal, community, and academic library Popular Culture reference collections in general, and Television Programming supplemental studies reading list in particular.

Marked Off
Don Cameron
New Island Books
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781848404151, $23.00, 256pp,

Synopsis: In a leafy suburb of Dublin in the height of mid-Summer, the brutal and shocking murder of a local woman is the last thing that anyone expects. What is more unexpected is that this murder will only be the first of many. Detective Danny O'Neill is led on a trail of false clues, lies and corruption, where the only thing he seems to be able to find are dead ends. As O'Neill tries to come to terms with a painful past, we realize that this is more than a hunt for a wanted man: it is a hunt for redemption. In a tale of twists, turns, and sheer roundabouts, the city of Dublin is horrified by the antics of a troubled, abused, and evil killer.

Critique: A compelling read that abounds in unexpected plot twists and surprising turns, "Marked Off" is a brilliantly crafted mystery suspense novel of the first order. An absorbing read from beginning to end, "Marked Off" is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of mystery buffs and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

The Point of Vanishing
Howard Axelrod
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807075463, $16.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: On a clear May afternoon at the end of his junior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod played a pick-up game of basketball. In a skirmish for a loose ball, a boy's finger hooked behind Axelrod's eyeball and left him permanently blinded in his right eye. A week later, he returned to the same dorm room, but to a different world. A world where nothing looked solid, where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw had widened into a gulf. Desperate for a sense of orientation he could trust, he retreated to a jerry-rigged house in the Vermont woods, where he lived without a computer or television, and largely without human contact, for two years. He needed to find, away from society's pressures and rush, a sense of meaning that couldn't be changed in an instant.

Critique: A compelling and candid account, "The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude" by Howard Axelrod is impressively well written, exceptionally well organized, and a thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Point of Vanishing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.12).

The Range War of '82
Ethan J. Wolfe
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432830724, $25.95, 269pp,

Synopsis: In the year 1882, Jefferson Parker is the richest cattle baron in Wyoming and wants statehood for the territory. He also intends to stop at nothing in order to claim all the available grazing land for raising his cattle. James and Sarah Johansen are in the third year of raising crops on a small-acre farm adjacent to Parker's ranch. Along with several other small farmers, they are in Parker's way of keeping all the land an open range for raising cattle. Farmers can build fences on their land so that their crops don't get eaten or trampled by the ranchers' livestock. Parker offers money to the farmers to purchase their land while employing a ruthless gunslinger named Cord to make the farmers offers that they dare not refuse. To complicate things further, Parker has a hot-headed son anxious to resolve matters through intimidation and is not willing to wait for the gunslinger to complete his mission. The conflict between the rancher and the farmers inevitably leads to a bloody range war.

Critique: Ethan J. Wolfe is an acknowledged master of the western action/adventure genre. "The Range War of '82" is his latest novel and arguably his best work yet. Very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of all western buffs, "The Range War of '82" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Western Fiction collections.

A Sprinkling of Cyanide
Ian Ashbridge
Vanguard Press
c/o Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781784650056, $13.99, 234pp,

Synopsis: Craker is a retired detective and a tenant in a multi-occupied house where a poisoning takes place. The dead man was never liked and it is not just the tenants who had a grudge against him. An open verdict is returned, with the possibility of suicide, but Craker is dissatisfied. He is determined to discover the truth, opening up new lines of enquiry. There ensues a failed attempt on his own life and confrontation with former colleagues, preceding a second disturbing death. Only at the eleventh hour does the truth come to light, when a chilling scenario of loathing and pitiless elimination is fully revealed, against a backdrop of other illicit activities.

Critique: "A Sprinkling of Cyanide" by Ian Ashbridge is especially written for the whodunit mystery genre enthusiast. A deftly crafted mystery with superbly presented twists and turns, "A Sprinkling of Cyanide" is highly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs, and is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Cold Serial
Brian Forschner
Morgan James Publishing
4410 E Claiborne Square, Suite 334, Hampton VA 23666-2071
9781630475482, $16.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Cold Serial" paints the picture of five girls who were raped and strangled in the Dayton, Ohio, area between 1900 and 1909. The working conditions, lack of rights for women and police protection, and the sexism of the age portray these girls as victims not only of a crime but also of their time. As their stories unfold, a common thread appears, a modus operandi that begins to link them together. During that era, police did not recognize the lurking shadow of a predator. But through diligent research conducted by the author, it is now revealed. "Cold Serial" contains riveting, fast-paced portraits of the personal and family tragedies of these five girls as well as the brutality and victim blaming of that time. Yet the deaths of these girls were not in vain, as they made significant contributions to the Dayton, Ohio, area and, ultimately, the nation. Sadly, though, according to the police authorities of the time, these crimes were never solved. Using criminological thinking of today, author Brian Forschner's "Cold Serial" attempts to solve these murders/rapes. Did he discover others? Can the suspect be placed at the scene of all of the crimes? Does a serial murderer/rapist emerge in a time even before the coining of the term? The escape of one girl creates a twist that opens the door to solving these crimes. There are no memorials to any of these girls, nor were any tributes made. As their cases grew cold, their voices were silenced. "Cold Serial" provides the long-overdue justice and the voice they so richly deserve.

Critique: An impressively well crafted novel from first page to last, "Cold Serial: The Jack The Strangler Murders" is a compelling read and very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Cold Serial" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Tears of Dark Water
Corban Addison
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718042202, $24.99, 464pp,

Synopsis: Daniel and Vanessa Parker are an American success story. He is a Washington, DC, power broker, and she is a physician with a thriving practice. But behind the gilded facade, their marriage is a shambles, and their teenage son, Quentin, is self-destructing. In desperation, Daniel dusts off his long-delayed dream of sailing around the world. Little does he know, the voyage he hopes will save them may destroy them instead. Half a world away on the lawless coast of Somalia, Ismail Adan Ibrahim is living a life of crime in violation of everything he was raised to believe -- except for the love and loyalty driving him to hijack ships for ransom and plot the rescue of his sister, Yasmin, from the man who murdered their father. There is nothing he will not do to save her, even if it means taking innocent lives. Paul Derrick is the FBI's top hostage negotiator. His twin sister, Megan, is a celebrated defense attorney. They have reached the summit of their careers by savvy, grit, and a secret determination to escape the memory of the day their family died. When Paul is dispatched to handle a hostage crisis at sea, he has no idea how far it will take him and Megan into the past -- or the chance it will give them to redeem the future. Across continents and oceans, through storms and civil wars, the paths of these individuals converge in a single, explosive moment. It is a moment that will test them and break them, but it will also leave behind an unexpected glimmer of hope that out of the ashes of tragedy and misfortune, the seeds of justice and reconciliation can grow.

Critique: An impressively well crafted and exceptionally engaging novel from beginning to end, "The Tears of Dark Water" documents author Croban Addison as a remarkably talented storyteller. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Tears of Dark Water" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Blind Angel
Rabbi Tovia Halberstam, author
Joshua Halberstam, translator
The Toby Press
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776
9781592643592, $24.95, 278pp,

Synopsis: For twenty-five years, Rabbi Tovia Halberstam, a scion of leading Chassidic dynasties, told riveting Chassidic tales to an audience of thousands on the Yiddish radio in New York. These legends, as precious and rich as family heirlooms, were known to millions of Jews before the Holocaust. Preserved today in their original Yiddish by the Chassidic community, the tales capture a vibrant culture with animated characters, humor, wisdom, human struggle, and moral lessons. In "The Blind Angel: New Old Chassidic Tales", Rabbi Halberstam's son, Joshua Halberstam, renders these tales for a contemporary audience while maintaining the full charm, rhythm, and authenticity of the original tales. As Joshua retells his father s stories, he opens a window to a world that is unfamiliar and intriguing to many. Readers will smile in appreciation of the rebbe s wit, cherish a surprising Chassidic teaching, find themselves moved by a protagonist s challenge, and delight in the sheer pleasures of storytelling.

Critique: An extraordinary and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "The Blind Angel: New Old Chassidic Tales" is a literary treasure and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to any personal, synagogue, community, or academic library Judiac Studies reference collections. It should be noted that "The Blind Angel: New Old Chassidic Tales" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology
Thomas M. Heffernan
Psychology Press
c/o Taylor & Francis, Inc
7625 Empire Drive, Florence, KY 41042-2919
9781848720794, $35.95, 223pp,

Synopsis: Studying a degree course in psychology, even if taken the subject before university as part of an advanced highschool pre-college curriculum, requires a whole range of new skills and knowledge. Now in a fully updated and expanded fourth edition, "The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology" by Thomas M. Heffernan (Senior Lecturer, Northumbira University, UK) will prove to be an invaluable instructional guide. It can not only help students to get a good final degree, but will also support them in making informed choices towards either a career or further study. This new edition of "The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology" now includes the latest developments in the field as well as providing practical and helpful guidance on everything a psychology student encounters throughout their degree, including: Writing essays and research reports, including how to get your referencing right; Guidelines for researching ethically using humans or animals; An overview of research methods and statistics, including qualitative methods; Tips on how to approaching and passing exams; Advice on becoming a graduate, including preparing a CV and making the most of a psychology degree. Featuring advice to help psychology students every step of the way, "The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology" also includes a library of weblinks to provide further resources to support psychology studies. "The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology" is an essential book for any psychology student wishing to make the most of their degree course.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology" is an ideal and invaluable instructional guide for anyone seeking a degree in psychology or simply taking psychology classes for non-degree purposes. It should be noted that "The Student's Guide to Studying Psychology" is also available in a Kindle edition ($34.95).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Living Autism Day by Day - Daily Reflections and Strategies to Give You Hope and Courage
Pamela Bryson-Weaver
Freedom Abound, Inc.
97809936429906, $ 23.99, 448 pages,

Daily Musings for Contemplation which Inspire Hope and Encouragement with Practical Strategies for Living Each Day with the Challenge of Autism

"Living Autism Day by Day" is a resource for parents and caregivers of a child living with autism. As a mother of a child with autism Pamela Bryson-Weaver understands what it means to be a caregiver of an autistic child. As with any debilitating disease, loved ones and caregivers face each new day with the uncertainty of the unfamiliar, often mysterious twists and turns the day will take.

The book is made up of a reading for each day of the year. The daily readings include, a thought provoking quote offering inspiration, motivation, or affirmation with a message of hope and encouragement.

The author follows the reflection with a fresh thought to approach the new day. This may be in the form of a practical tip, an inspiring story, a humorous antidote, a community, national, or educational resource, or a strategy for the care of an autistic child. Space is provided for the reader to record an action to take in areas of: Autism awareness, self-awareness, or an insight into one of life's blessings. Colorful photos of children accompanying the true stories and anecdotes add a dimension of reality and warmth to their story.

Pamela Bryson-Weaver is a parent of an autistic child, and an advocate and activist for children with special needs.

"Living Autism Day by Day" is an important resource for parents, family and professional caregivers. Highly endorsed by readers who are living with the daily challenge of raising a special needs child.

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

100 Days in the Secret Place
Gene Edwards
Destiny Image Publisher
PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407655, $ 14.99, 218 pages

Thoughts on the Deeper Christian Life from the Classic Writings of Madame Guyon, Francois Fenelon, and Michael Molinos

Gene Edwards features selections on experiencing the deeper Christian life from three highly respected classical writers of the 1600s: Francois de Fenelon a godly French Archbishop in the Catholic Church, Michael Molines, Spanish born, influential throughout Europe through his "Spiritual Guide," and Jeanne Guyon, the most read woman in Christian history.

All three authors help the reader better understand elements important in a personal quest for embracing the cross, walking in God's presence, and drawing into the inner chamber of fellowship with Him.

I especially liked Fenelon's practical instructions in the devotional "Cultivating Silence." Moline's understands the reality of man's nature. This comes through in the thoughts expressed in his writing on "Three Kinds of Silence." In the final section "Stepping into His Presence" Guyon talks about how Godliness flows from within and of living in the abundance the spirit.

The rich look and texture of the quality binding, add a touch of worship and reverence giving a sense of anticipation of the spiritual experience ahead for the reader. "100 Days in the Secret Place" is an important addition to every Christian's classic devotional library and as an ideal gift for every occasion. Highly motivational, with practical instruction and spiritual insight.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. Reading "100 Days in the Secret Place" is an exciting spiritual quest.

Releasing the Divine Healer Within - The Biology of Belief and Healing
Dennis and Jen Clark
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
97804768407488, $14.99, 176 pages

An Integrated Look at the Physical Body, Emotions, and the Spiritual Being

In "Releasing the Divine Healer Within" Dennis and Dr. Jen Clark present a fresh new approach to understanding how Biblical truth and medical science interact in physical and emotional healing.

Chapters one through four become the foundation for grasping the concept of the biology of belief and healing. Chapter five introduces actual stories of healing experiences that illustrate the principles presented. Other testimonies also appear throughout the book. The final chapters deal with insight into how God's creative power is integrated with the heart, the body's cells, our emotions, genetics, and stress in the process toward health and Biblical healing.

The Clark's write with clarity; the book's format is reader friendly. There is a natural progression of instruction for understanding, followed with examples for assimilation, with suggestions for action steps to personal application. The features "Practice" and "Troubleshooting" provide step by step ideas for entering into prayer, receiving results, and recognizing barriers. I appreciated the well documented chapter endnotes which provide the reader with a rich resource for future reading and study.

"Releasing the Divine Healer Within - The Biology of Belief and Healing" is an important reminder to every believer of the indwelling power the divine healer within each of us.

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

Claiming Your Inheritance - Unlimited Access to the Voice of God
Cherrie Kaylor
Destiny Images Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407983, $ 14.99, 152 pages

Keys to Hearing God's Voice - By Combining His Word and His Spirit

"Claiming Your Inheritance" is a field guide to life; a spiritual pilgrimage, a holy quest. Kaylor writes with clarity and passion. Her writing is more than just interesting; she writes with excitement transforming the truths of the scripture while giving encouragement, edification, and comfort.

Kaylor introduces the concept of creating a Scripture book of your own. She carefully explains the value, the purpose, and the process. I discovered some key action steps I'd like to develop as I start my "Scripture Book," these include: read the scripture intent on understanding for illumination, insight, and revelation, leading to personal transformation, life change and intimacy with God. The suggested categories provide a roadmap for finding topics that are specific for my journey.

The book is filled with practical tools, tips, and "take away principles" for personal application. I was reminded of the importance of drawing from the synergy of group dynamics, of relying on the Word as a weapon of intercession, as a counseling tool, and for receiving and giving prophetic direction.

"Claiming Your Inheritance" is a book for every Christian yearning for spiritual growth while longing for the reality of a deeper connection with God. The reader will be empowered to access God more intimately and to experience a richer more personal relational life with God and an understanding of what it means to walk with Him.

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

In Pursuit of Purpose - The Key to Personal Commitment
Dr. Myles Munroe
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781560431039, $15.99, 222 Pages

Keys to Maximize Your Potential and Fulfill Your Purpose

In his book "In Pursuit of Purpose" best-selling author Myles Munroe writes to encourage his readers to discover their purpose and develop their full potential.
The book is written for those who desire a purposeful life characterized by effectiveness, efficiency, and fulfillment.

I especially appreciate that the basis for every principle or key to personal fulfillment presented throughout the book is Biblically based. The chapter summaries become resource tools for assimilation of the material.

Dr. Munroe encourages the reader to ask probing questions about themselves that will challenge and unleash purpose. These questions stimulate discussion and reflection that lead to motivation for taking action steps toward application the key principles covered in the chapter.

Of the many lessons I learned, three stand out: the chapter titled "Principles of Purpose" helped me identify five people or influencers in finding my life's purpose, to find out who I am, to be myself, recognize my special niche and work toward fulfilling my dreams.

The principles regarding time and purpose helped me recognize the danger of mistaking busyness and distracting activity as productive purpose; this becomes an important reminder of the importance of prioritizing.

I was challenged and inspired by the keys introduced in the chapter on "Purpose and Vison" and the need to unify my decisions, companions, choices, and priorities in a quantitative and qualitative standard of measure. I was impressed with the importance of saturating each area of my life with prayer and to make it my goal to be "A Man after God's Own Heart."

Unlocked - Step into Your Next-Level Moment
T. D. Jakes
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768408102, $9.99, 176 pages

Destiny Defining Moments - Be Ready to Respond

New York Times, bestselling author, T. D. Jakes opens the way for the reader to step up to a new level and potential for blessing in his book "Unlocked - Step into Your Next-Level Moment." Bishop Jakes draws from the lives of Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha to illustrate how to recognize your life's defining, next-level moment.

Elisha allowed his encounter with Elijah to transform his life, give him vision, and the power and tenacity, to pursue, God's plan for his life. Reflective questions at the end of each chapter encourage the reader to respond to the challenge of finding, releasing, and fulfilling God's destiny for their life.

A full chapter from Cora Jakes Coleman's book "Faith It" provides an opportunity to examine practical and parallel challenges for moving beyond spiritual paralysis to free you from feelings of failure to step into life on a new level. Selections from Bishop Jakes inspirational book "Strength for Every Moment" are also included as a bonus to introduce new readers to his insightful devotional writings.

"Unlocked - Step into Your Next-Level Moment" redefines everyday living and empowers the reader for new levels of influence, ministry, and blessing.

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

Clandestine: The CIA, a Secret Partnership, and an Alliance to Topple a Government
Stella Francis Faulkes
Rock Creek Consulting LLC
554 Mahard Drive, Twin Falls, Idaho 83301
9780996510219, $ 10.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 260 pages,

Political Intrigue, Suspense in a Power Struggle between Labor Unions, Government Duplicity and Humane Ideologies

In "Clandestine" Stella Francis Faulkes carefully introduces background material to establish a complex plot of international politics, government duplicity, maneuvers to counter attach terrorists, the Muslim brotherhood, and other extremists in an effort to gain dominance in the leadership of a one world government, in the guise of embassy business.

Andy Wayne, protagonist, an outstanding agent for Center for Labor Unity (CLU) is on assignment in Venezuela to bait and incite a revolution against their new president; who has overtaken oil operations belonging to U. S. companies, Joyia Gabreille, a stunning representative of Brazil's national union, and Dane Sinclair, a seasoned operative, willing to resort to violence to get desired results, are assigned to aide Any in the effort.

Behind the scenes Ezekiel Jones and Koshka Whitehall, the CIA/ CLU, and Peter Abercrombie, President Barnard Christophe's chief of staff, in an effort to divert adverse attention on the Venezuelan uprising before it starts; contract Denise Menon, a former CIA agent, and freelance assassin, to eliminate Andy Wayne, permanently.

Faulkes is careful to provide a balance of background information in an effort to set the scene for the story line.

Her multifaceted characters are believable. Her plot is complex with fast moving action and cutting edge themes of political intrigue, international economy and trade agreements, civil unrest, and revolutionary movements.

"Clandestine," has potential to become a trilogy, with movie possibilities, or as a TV series and is destined to establish Stella Francis Faulkes as an award winning author bestselling author.

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

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Dancing Flamingos Of Lake Chimichanga
Karl Beckstrand, author
Ashley Sanborn, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
97815121611786, $9.95, 24pgs,

In this delightful read we have Pink - Pink everywhere and I loved it, yes Pink is a color I like. The drawings are excellent and really bring this story to life. I love the hats and shoes and clothes that these delightful Flamingo's wear. Their facial expressions are perfect for what is going on and really help with the story. The reader will enjoy sharing all the different things they are doing from chatter to diving, to dancing, they are busy and delightful as well. Loved the Vulture. Great read that young and old will enjoy.

The Legend Of YellowBeak The Pirate
K.A. Meade
Meadow Lane Publishing
9780993346217, $11.99, 72 pgs

Our main character Lyle decides to take off on the seven seas as a Captain. He leaves behind his friends to follow his dream, but does his dream come true? I'll not tell., but I enjoyed the read. This is a large book, and I love when they are like that and I find a lot of children do as well. The pictures are great, colorful and drawing. The storyline keeps good pace and the ending is tender and true. All in all I think this book is a winner and that children and adults will enjoy the read. Very nice book.

Quantum Faith
Annette Capps
Capps Publishing
PO Box 69, England, AR 72046
9780961897550, $14.95, 32pgs,

I decided to study up on Quantum and how it relates in the Bible and with the Word of God. I had been hearing the teaching of Ms. Capps and felt this book would help me and it did. It is not a big book in pages but it is chuck full of wisdom and knowledge. In this book you will learn how the different words spoken by Jesus and the entire Bible relates a lot with the physical world and how we were created and how we should be living. /what I loved was learning about the power of our words and how the Bible tells us we can have what we say. I think anyone who is interested in Quantum and the Word of God would love this book. I highly recommend it.

Wind Kissed
Dr. Lynn Ann Migdal
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478753919, $10.95, pages 133,

This is a very different book in a way, but yet quite amazing. We meet the Silver family who are very well off as far as money goes, but broken as far as relationships go. Our main character is eleven year old Rebecca who has lived in abuse both physical and verbal from her older sister. She does not fight back but cowers in the corner both in mind and body. Because of this she has serious physical issues. Who will help her.

This is where the story goes into the supernatural as you travel with Rebecca as she meets the nature spirits of the sky. Ones that help humans to find health and peace. Rebecca learns how to change her mind, body, spirit and even her nervous system and literally change her life and change her family.

To me this was a amazing book because our author used the supernatural, something that brings interest, to show how even a child can change her life and the life of her family. Children will learn and I feel listen to what Rebecca went though and her journey to victory. I believe they will realize they too can come out from under the bad circumstances they are in. Adults can also learn a lot from this read I know I did. Very well done. I think this is a great book for parents to share with their children.

Restart Me Up: The Unauthorized, Un-Accurate Oral History Of Windows 95
Lesley Tsina
Devastator Press
9781942099048, $10.00, 84pgs,

I have learned you are always in for a surprise and giggles with this writing and I was not disappointed. Who knew Computer makings could be so 'strange' If you want a giggle this is the one read to dig into. A different read for me but one that definitely held my attention, or whom did it? / You have to wonder what will readers in the future who get their hands on this book think? Interesting.

The Devil's Serum
Ricardo M Fleshman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781497477483, $6.99, 124pgs,

You know in this world there are a lot of strange people who do things that none of us would ever even think about, yet it happens. In this story we meet back up with Detective Byone who works with the FBI to try and found out who the doctor is that using men to experiment with a ungodly mind changing potion. This story is a chiller. Our author does a great job pulling you into the tale and as you travel further and further it becomes darker and darker. You wonder just what does go on in this world that we live in that we never know. To sum it up, this tale is a page turner, creepy for sure, yet you are left with, I believe this could happen, and that is scary in itself. A good curl up read, very well done even though it is downright creepy and let's hope it never really happens.

The Secret Sabbatical
David Cawood PH.D
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center, #302, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
978163498051, $16.95, 246pgs,

There was some question as to whether I should review this book or not, of course the way I am I was going to review it. I have to admit when I first started reading it I had to make myself keep going because I didn't really know why I had to read about all that was being given to me, but as I continued I understood. I am a simple person, a religious person, and not a stupid one, but not a Brilliant one either. I do have a Degree, if that means anything but to me the book spoke to me the most at Chapter 10 and on, yes I read the other but I could relate from 10 on. However, I learned some from the entire book, agreed and disagreed some and also put some of what I learned from the entire book into practice. Life isn't always easy no matter what you do, what you read, what you put into practice, but this book did give me much to think about, great information to use, and a smile knowing I'm not alone. Mr. Cawood is truly a Man who knows what he is talking about and how to reach your goal. His writing shows that he is a wise man with much to offer to help others with the wisdom he has achieved. No matter who you are you will take away a better understanding of life and a better hold on life from this read.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Business Ethics: An Interactive Introduction
Andrew Kernohan
Broadview Press
c/o FedEx Trade Networks
555 Riverwalk Parkway, Tonawanda, NY 14150
9781554811502, $29.95, 260pp,

Synopsis: "Business Ethics: An Interactive Introduction" by Andrew Kernohan (Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada) connects the academic to the practical, extracting the basic elements of rigorous philosophical ethics into a format that can be understood and applied in the business world. Concepts such as utility, duty, and sustainability are given practical value and connected to examples and methods familiar to business people. Classical ethical theories are surveyed, as are modern perspectives on justice, equality, and the environment. Where possible, quantitative examples and methods are used to show that ethics need not be subjective or vague. Professor Kernohan provides an overview of the basic tools of ethical decision-making and shows how each can be used to resolve moral problems in business environments. Readers are then invited to apply those tools by completing a series of online exercises, receiving immediate objective feedback on their success. "Business Ethics: An Interactive Introduction" and its accompanying exercises thus work in concert, offering a unique opportunity for interactive self-directed learning.

Critique: A complete course of instruction, "Business Ethics: An Interactive Introduction" is the perfect introduction to understanding the essential role and enduring importance of ethics in a business transaction of any kind. Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Business Ethics: An Interactive Introduction" is very highly recommended for personal, community, corporate, and academic library Business Philosophy & Ethics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Zagreb Noir
Ivan Srsen, editor
Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781617753084, $15.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Ivan Srsen, "Zagreb Noirt" continues the outstanding Akashic Books series of original noir anthologies that was initially launched in 2004 with the publication of "Brooklyn Noir". Each story in the titles comprising this specialized series is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of that particular book. Translated into English from Croatian, "Zagre Noir" features stories by Ivan Vidic, Josip Novakovich, Andrea Zigic-Dolenec, Robert Perisic, Mima Simic, Pero Kavesic, Nada Gasic, Zoran Pilic, Ruzica Gasperov, Darko Milosic, Nora Verde, Ivan Srsen, Neven Usumovic, and Darko Macan. Eastern European history is filled with noir-ish and harrowing tales, and Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, certainly has its fill. Editor Srsen has curated a diverse, powerful, and dramatic group of stories that offer tremendous insight into the perspectives of contemporary Croatians.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and entertaining read from beginning to end, "Zagreb Noir" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists as well as community and academic library collections. Also very highly recommended are two other new editions to this unique and extraordinary international literary series: "Marseille Noir" (9781617752957, $15.95, 256pp) and "Beirut Noir" (9781617753442, $15.95, 288pp).

David Kimble's Cutaways
David Kimble
CarTech Inc.
39966 Grand Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056
9781613251737, $35.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "David Kimble's Cutaways: Techniques and the Stories Behind the Art", renowned artist and car enthusiast David Kimble reveals the secrets, techniques, procedures, and the dedication to craft that is required to produce these amazing illustrations. Kimble covers the step-by-step procedures, while producing fresh artwork for this outstanding volume featuring a McLaren Can-Am car as well as a vintage Harley-Davidson.

Critique: Superbly and profusely illustrated throughout, "David Kimble's Cutaways: Techniques and the Stories Behind the Art" features an impressively informed and informative commentary making it a 'must read' for all car enthusiasts and an enduringly popular addition to community and academic Automotive History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Size Control in Biology
Rebecca Heald, Iswar K. Hariharan, David B. Wake, editors
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
500 Sunnyside Boulevard, Woodbury NY 11797-2924
9781621820727, $135.00, 318pp,

Synopsis: Size is a primary feature of living things. From egg to adult, the various organs, tissues, cells, and subcellular structures that make up an organism grow to appropriate sizes so that they effectively fit and function together. The misregulation of this growth can lead to diseases such as cancer. Written and edited by experts in the field, "Size Control in Biology: From Organelles to Organisms" is comprised of a collection of articles from Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology which examines our current understanding of the intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms that precisely regulate the sizes of biological structures so that they can function efficiently in their cellular, organismal, or ecological context. The contributors discuss the various genetic, hormonal, and environmental inputs that trigger cells to grow, divide, or die, the various signaling pathways involved, and how these determine the final body size of an organism and the proportions of its component tissues and organs. Size-sensing mechanisms that enable cells to maintain their optimal sizes are reviewed, as are the scaling mechanisms that organelles use to adjust their sizes in response to changes in cell size. Examples from across the tree of life ranging from bacteria to humans are provided. The contributors also describe the mysteries that still remain about cell size and its control, including the nature of the intriguing relationship between nuclear DNA content and cell size. "Size Control in Biology: From Organelles to Organisms" will therefore be fascinating reading for all cell, developmental, and evolutionary biologists.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of University of California - Berkeley academicians Rebecca Heald, Iswar K. Hariharan, David B. Wake, "Size Control in Biology: From Organelles to Organisms" is comprised of eighteen major papers by experts in their respective fields. Of special note is 'Subcellular Size' by Wallace F. Marshall and 'Nuclear DNA Content Varies with Cell Size across Human Cell Types' by James F. Gillooly, Andrew Hein, and Rachel Damiani. Enhanced with the inclusion of a five page Index, "Size Control in Biology" is a model of seminal research reporting and a very highly recommended addition to academic library Advanced Biology instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Size Control in Biology" is also available in a paperback edition (9781621821496, $79.00).

Courage Beyond Expectations
F. C. 'Bud' Budinger
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781517417277, $19.95, 474pp,

Synopsis: Native American prophets said they would come. Now Northwest Indians are facing miners, militias, and soldiers. The whites are raping, killing and robbing natives who only want to be left alone. Set in the Northwest before the Civil War, "Courage Beyond Expectations: Northwest Indian War, as Told by Those Who Lived It" is the true story that captures the spirit of natives who tried their best to persevere in their ultimately futile efforts to retain their traditional way of life. In researching the history of his people, a contemporary Indian writer, finds the long-lost journal of a Bavarian artillery corporal. Hans Schuler had recorded his part in this tragic campaign. In turning his discovery into a book, Clyde Mullan is startled to uncover a link to his ancestry. The Indian side of the conflict is seen through the eyes of a young Spokan brave. Jeremiah finds himself torn between his Christian faith and the traditional beliefs of his people as they are challenged by ruthless invaders. This monumental work is rich in scope, delving beyond our official, white washed western history. Like a fine mist of truth, it shows deep sympathy for human suffering as it weaves together the dilemma of a people desperately trying to avoid losing everything they hold sacred.

Critique: An exceptional engaging and inherently fascinating history, "Courage Beyond Expectations: Northwest Indian War, as Told by Those Who Lived It" is a unique window into the past and serves up an historical perspective that is unforgivably absent from most American history books and Hollywood movies. "Courage Beyond Expectations" is a unique and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and a much needed addition to community and academic library American History and Native American Studies collections.

Introduction to Modern Mathematics
Shiu-Yuen Cheng, et al.
International Press of Boston
PO Box 43502, Somerville, MA 02143
9781571463050, $85.00, 440pp,

Synopsis: Contemporary mathematics in practice is both diversified and unified: There are many specializations, and most practitioners are comfortable only with a few of them; yet major advances in mathematics often rise from the unification of theories and methods drawn from greatly diverse specializations. "Introduction to Modern Mathematics" presents an impressive collection of expository introductions to, and surveys of, several active and important topics in mathematics. Contributors include some of the top mathematicians in the world, including two Fields medalists (Jones and Lafforgue) and a Shaw Prize winner (Taubes). "Introduction to Modern Mathematics" will prove valuable to both beginners and experts, as an illuminating overview of current mathematics.

Critique: An impressive anthology of fifteen erudite articles (one of which is written in French, while the remaining fourteen are in English), "Introduction to Modern Mathematics" is the thirty-third volume in the International Press of Boston's outstanding 'Advanced Lectures in Mathematics' series -- and very strongly recommended, especially for academic library Higher Mathematics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Also very highly recommended as essential additions for such collections is the two volume set "Handbook of Group Actions" (9781571463029, $135.00) which are Volumes 31 & 32 of the 'Advanced Lectures in Mathematics' series.

People of the Upper Cumberland
Michael E. Birdwell & W. Calvin Dickinson
The University of Tennessee Press
110 Conference Center UT, Knoxville, TN 37996
9781621901099, $54.95, 434pp,

Synopsis: Unified by geography and themes of tradition and progress, the essays comprising "People of the Upper Cumberland: Achievements and Contradictions" present a complex view of the Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee and Kentucky and its people. The distinguished contributors cover everything from early folk medicine practices (Opless Walker), to the changing roles of women in the Upper Cumberland (Ann Toplovich), to rarely discussed African American lifeways in the area (Wali R. Kharif). The result is an astonishingly fresh contribution to studies of the Upper Cumberland area. Randall D. Williams's essay on the relatively unknown history of American Indians in the region opens the collection, followed by Michael Allen's history of boating and river professions on the Cumberland River. Al Cross and David Cross illuminate the Republican politics of the Kentucky section of the Upper Cumberland, while Mark Dudney provides a first-of-its-kind look at the early careers of distinguished Tennesseans Cordell Hull and John Gore. Equally fresh is Mary A. Evins's examination of the career of Congressman Joe L. Evins, and coeditor Michael E. Birdwell and John B. Nisbet III contribute an in-depth piece on John Catron, the Upper Cumberland's first Supreme Court justice. Troy D. Smith's essay on Champ Ferguson sheds new light on the Confederate guerilla. Birdwell's second contribution, an exploration of the history of moonshine, provides insight into a venerable Cumberland tradition. Pairing well with Walker's essay, Janey Dudney and coeditor W. Calvin Dickinson discuss the superstitions faced by early Upper Cumberland medical professionals. Closing out the grouping of medical articles is Dickinson's second chapter, which tells the story of Dr. May Cravath Wharton and her contribution to the region's health care. Laura Clemons explores the relationship between composer Charles Faulkner Bryan and his gifted African American pupil J. Robert Bradley during the Jim Crow era. Birdwell's third chapter and the collection's final essay examines race relations in the Upper Cumberland.

Critique: Expertly compiled and co-edited by the team of Michael E. Birdwell (Professor of History at Tennessee Technological University) and W. Calvin Dickinson (Professor Emeritus of History at Tennessee Technological University) the essays and articles anthologized in "People of the Upper Cumberland: Achievements and Contradictions" provides a broad look at one of the most understudied regions of the Volunteer State, "People of the Upper Cumberland: Achievements and Contradictions" significant addition to Tennessee history will prove insightful for students and academics with interdisciplinary and cross-historical interests. An impressive work of outstanding scholarship deftly organized into five major sections (Regional Overview; Politicians and Politics; Lawyers and Law Breakers; Medical Men and Women; African Americans and Race Relations), "People of the Upper Cumberland" is additionally enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, a thirty page bibliography, a four page list of contributors and their credentials, and a twenty-five page index, making it very highly recommended for academic library American History and American Biography reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Crimes of Peace
Maurizio Albahari
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247473, $65.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Among the world's hotly contested, obsessively controlled, and often dangerous borders, none is deadlier than the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2000, at least 25,000 people have lost their lives attempting to reach Italy and the rest of Europe, most by drowning in the Mediterranean. Every day, unauthorized migrants and refugees bound for Europe put their lives in the hands of maritime smugglers, while fishermen, diplomats, priests, bureaucrats, armed forces sailors, and hesitant bystanders waver between indifference and intervention -- with harrowing results. In "Crimes of Peace: Mediterranean Migrations at the World's Deadliest Border", Maurizio Albahari (teaches anthropology at the University of Notre Dame) investigates why the Mediterranean Sea is the world's deadliest border, and what alternatives could improve this state of affairs. He also examines the dismal conditions of migrants in transit and the institutional framework in which they move or are physically confined. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of places, people, and European politics, Albahari supplements fieldwork in coastal southern Italy and neighboring Mediterranean locales with a meticulous documentary investigation, transforming abstract statistics into names and narratives that place the responsibility for the Mediterranean migration crisis in the very heart of liberal democracy. Global fault lines are scrutinized: between Europe, Africa, and the Middle East; military and humanitarian governance; detention and hospitality; transnational crime and statecraft; the universal law of the sea and the thresholds of a globalized yet parochial world. "Crimes of Peace" illuminates crucial questions of sovereignty and rights: for migrants trying to enter Europe along the Mediterranean shore, the answers are a matter of life or death.

Critique: In view of the current mass migration from the war torn countries of the Middle East to the nations of Europe where more than one and a half millions emigrants and refugees are in often hazardous transit attempting to (or planning to) cross the Mediterranean seas, "Crimes of Peace: Mediterranean Migrations at the World's Deadliest Border" is a very timely contribution to what is looming as they major humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, impressive in both scope and scholarship, "Crimes of Peace" should be a part of every community and academic library collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Crimes of Peace" is also available in a Kindle edition ($55.21).

Essential Horror Movies
Michael Mallory
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9780789329424, $40.00, 228pp,

Synopsis: "Essential Horror Movies: Matinee Monsters to Cult Classics" is the definitive book for fans of monster movies, slasher films, and cult classics. Would you dare to come face-to-face with the most terrifying vampires, monsters, zombies, and psychos of all time? They and their movies are all here in this lavishly (and terrifyingly) illustrated volume of the greatest, scariest, and most influential fright films. From such silent masterpieces as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) to such Golden Era classics as Dracula (1931); from such richly colored shockers as House of Wax (1953) to such groundbreaking independent thrillers as Night of the Living Dead (1968); and including modern horrors from Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and the Blair Witch series, "Essential Horror Movies" chronicles a century's worth of cinematic terror. Behind-the-scenes anecdotes, trivia, and photos complete the story of these essential motion pictures.

Critique: Michael Mallory is an internationally recognized authority on twentieth-century pop culture. He is the author of "Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror" (978-0789318961, $40.00 HC; 252pp) and "The Science Fiction Universe and Beyond: Syfy Channel Book of Sci-Fi" (978-0789324474, $40.00 HC, 256pp), among other books, and has written more than 700 newspaper, magazine, and online articles about film and animation. Mallory brings his many years of experience and expertise to bear in "Essential Horror Movies: Matinee Monsters to Cult Classics". The result is one of the most comprehensively informed and informative compendiums on the subject and an essential, core addition to personal, community, and academic library Cinematic History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

What Does God Look Like?
James L. Dickerson
Mojo Triangle Books
c/o Sartoris Literary Group
PO Box 4185, Brandon, MS 39047
9781941644706, $15.95, 264pp,

Synopsis: "What Does God Look Like?: A Journey to the Other Side" by James L. Dickerson is a story that begins with an ill-fated father-son fishing trip that ends in disaster, and sends the father and son through a velvet tunnel into the bright light of God's presence. Once there they are told there has been a mistake because our souls had clung together on the journey. Only one person was supposed to stand before God. Instead, there was a father and a son. How God resolved the "mistake" is a challenging proposition. "What Does God Look Like?" traces Dickerson's life after his return from the other side, as he works to carry out God's mandate. "What Does God Look Like?" also tells of several of the author's near-death experiences, and includes the story of an angel who visits a Mississippi hospital to give blood for him in an emergency situation and then disappears leaving hospital officials, family, and police scratching their heads because no one could ever locate the man again. "What Does God Look Like?: A Journey to the Other Side" will strengthen the faith of believers and challenge the arguments of non-believers. Most importantly it provides an eye-witness account of what readers will experience when their turn comes to cross over to the other side.

Critic: An inherently fascinating and fully absorbing read from beginning to end, "What Does God Look Like?: A Journey to the Other Side" offers a unique experience-based perspective and is a very highly recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library Metaphysical Studies reference collections. A truly extraordinary account, it should be noted that "What Does God Look Like?" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.95).

A History of Antisemitism in Canada
Ira Robinson
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771121668, $38.99, 302pp,

Synopsis: "A History of Antisemitism in Canada" by Ira Robinson (Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies and Director of the Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada) presents a state-of-the-art account of the phenomenon. "A History of Antisemitism in Canada" builds on the foundation of numerous previous studies on antisemitism in general and on antisemitism in Canada in particular, and builds on the growing body of scholarship in Canadian Jewish studies. It attempts to understand the ways in which antisemitism has impacted Canada as a whole, and examines most especially its influence on the development of Canada s Jewish community. "A History of Antisemitism in Canada" gives readers the tools to understand why antisemitism is such a controversial subject. It acquaints them with the ambiguities inherent in the historical relationship between Jews and Christians and shows these ambiguities in play in the unfolding historical relationship between Jews and Canadians of other religions and ethnicities. It examines present relationships in light of history and, most particularly, considers the influence of antisemitism on the social, religious, and political history of the Canadian Jewish community. "A History of Antisemitism in Canada" and is the first to present a comprehensive account of antisemitism and its effect on the Jewish community of Canada, making it valuable to students and scholars of Canadian history, Canadian Jewish studies, Canadian ethnic studies, and antisemitism.

Critique: Encompassing an impressive body of original research and seminal scholarship, "A History of Antisemitism in Canada" is organized into four main sections: Introduction; Canada and the Jews: Early Encounters (1759-1914); Jews and Canadian Society (1914-1945); Postwar Canada (1945-Present). Enhanced with the inclusion of fifty-eight pages of Notes; a twenty-two page Bibliography; and a twenty-seven page Index, "A History of Antisemitism in Canada" is very highly recommended, especially for academic library Judaic Studies and Canadian History reference collections in general, and Antisemitism supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Business Ethics In Biblical Perspective
Michael E. Cafferky
InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 605151426
9780830824748, $45.00, 496pp,

Synopsis: It is legal for CEOs to make 300 times the amount of the average worker. But is this fair and just? Is it ethical for a customer to purchase a digital camera for the sole purpose of using it on a ski trip and then return the item to the store afterwards? Should companies who purchase advertising space on websites that offer pirated videos for download be held accountable for breaking intellectual property laws? The world of business is fraught with ethical challenges. Some of these are relatively straightforward, but others are complicated and require careful reflection. While there are numerous theories to help people navigate these dilemmas, the goal of this book is to provide a comprehensive biblical perspective on contemporary issues in areas such as consumer behavior, management, accounting and marketing. In "Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective", Michael E. Cafferky (the Ruth McKee Chair for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics at Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tennessee) explores the biblical resources for moral guidance and ethical consideration. He identifies twelve key themes in the narrative of Scripture: cosmic conflict, creation, holiness, covenant relationships, shalom, sabbath, justice, righteousness, truth, wisdom, loving kindness and redemption. By looking at ethical approaches and issues through this multifaceted biblical perspective, Professor Cafferky helps readers appreciate the complex nature of ethical decision making, particularly in the context of business and finance. Designed from the start with the classroom in mind, each chapter of "Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective" provides example scenarios, questions for intrapersonal and interpersonal ethical reflection, review questions, ethical vignettes for discussion and an exploration of the chapter material in light of the biblical themes.

Critique: A complete and exceptionally well organized and presented course of instruction, "Business Ethics In Biblical Perspective" is an ideal textbook well suited for a business ethics curriculum. In the midst of a new age of Robber Barron Capitalism, "Business Ethics In Biblical Perspective" is a sorely needed response and should considered essential reading for all corporate officers, business managers, and entrepreneurs. "Business Ethics In Biblical Perspective" should be considered a critically important addition to community, corporate, and academic library collections.

Informal Learning in Organizations
Robin Hoyle
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749474591, $39.95, 238pp,

Synopsis: New ways of learning, whether they are planned, accidental, or unexpected, happen all the time outside of an academic classroom or formal training workshop. For those in charge of learning and development in organizations, understanding how this kind of informal learning can be utilized and measured is key to providing efficient and cost-effective ways of improving professional development. With "Informal Learning in Organizations: How to Create a Continuous Learning Culture", Robin Hoyle (a training and development professional, and through his company Learnworks, he works with global organizations designing blended learning programs, particularly in the area of sustainability, commercial governance and marketing) offers practical tools (including checklists and action plan questions) to guide the L&D practitioner in designing and implementing an informal learning strategy personalized to their organization's needs. Combining the latest technology and practices with established theory and research, "Informal Learning in Organizations" provides an evidence-based review of informal learning. "Informal Learning in Organizations" explains how and why (or why not) informal learning resonates with people and offers an action plan to put the concepts into practice.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, immanently practical, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Informal Learning in Organizations: How to Create a Continuous Learning Culture" will prove to be an enduringly valuable instructional reference for corporate managers seeking to maximize the productivity of their work force at all levels. Very strongly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library Business Studies reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Informal Learning in Organizations" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.95).

Before Ever After
Don Hahn & Tracey Miller-Zarneke
Disney Editions
c/o Disney Book Group
1101 Flower Street, Glendale, CA 91501
9781484710814, $40.00, 448pp,

Synopsis: Compiled with commentary by Don Hahn (a writer/producer/director whose credits include the worldwide phenomenon The Lion King, the classic Beauty and the Beast) and animation expert Tracey Miller-Zarneke (who serves on the Board of Directors of Women in Animation), "Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Walt Disney's Animation Studio" is a treasury of rare and unpublished lecture notes, photographs and drawings which reflect the culture of learning that Walt Disney curated to raise the level of his artists in preparation for their first feature: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt hand-picked instructors from the renowned Chouinard Art Institute to hold classes on action and drawing. He screened films for study. He brought in talent from Architect Frank Lloyd Wright to choreographer George Balanchine to humorist Alexander Woollcott to teach and inspire his team. The result is a stunning collection of transcripts and history which not only lay the artistic foundation for the animated art form, but also give us an intimate look inside the walls of Walt Disney's studio during a seminal and profoundly creative moment in time.

Critique: A unique and impressive body of work that includes photomechanical reproductions of Walt Disney's original lectures complete with his penciled in corrections and amendments, enhanced with the inclusion of period photographs, as well as flawlessly reproduced full color images from his animation projects (and some classical painting reproductions that were to inspire him and his animation artists), "Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Walt Disney's Animation Studio" is a unique and highly valued contribution to the history of animation in general, and the contributions of Walt Disney in particular. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Art History and Popular Culture reference collections, "Before Ever After" will prove to be essential reading for students, and accessibly informative for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the work of Walt Disney and his animation studio.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes
Munesuke Mita, author
Hiroshi Sugimoto, photographer
9788862084161, $70.00, 272pp,

Synopsis: For more than 30 years, Hiroshi Sugimoto has traveled the world photographing its seas, producing an extended meditation on the passage of time and the natural history of the earth reduced to its most basic, primordial substances: water and air. Always capturing the sea at a moment of absolute tranquility, Sugimoto has composed all the photographs identically, with the horizon line precisely bifurcating each image. The repetition of this strict format reveals the uniqueness of each meeting of sea and sky, with the horizon never appearing exactly the same way twice. The photographs are romantic yet absolutely rigorous, apparently universal but exceedingly specific. "Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes" is the second in a series of luxurious, beautifully produced volumes each focused on specific bodies of Sugimoto's work, "Seascapes" presents the complete series of more than 200 Seascapes for the first time in one publication. Some of the photographs included have never before been reproduced.

Critique: Born in Tokyo in 1948, Sugimoto left Japan in 1970 after graduating from Rikkyo University with a degree in economics. He traveled throughout the Soviet Union and Europe and then moved to Los Angeles, where he studied photography at the Art Center College of Design. His work has been exhibited internationally in group and solo shows, and he was the recipient of the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2001 and the Mainichi Art Prize in 1988. "Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes" is a magnificently published, flawlessly produced compendium of his photography work with seascapes that is very highly recommended for personal, professional, and academic library Photography Studies reference collections.

Genocide on Settler Frontiers
Mohamed Adhikari, editor
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782387381, $120.00, 356pp,

Synopsis: European colonial conquest included many instances of indigenous peoples being exterminated. Cases where invading commercial stock farmers clashed with hunter-gatherers were particularly destructive, often resulting in a degree of dispossession and slaughter that destroyed the ability of these societies to reproduce themselves. The experience of aboriginal peoples in the settler colonies of southern Africa, Australia, North America, and Latin America bears this out. The frequency with which encounters of this kind resulted in the annihilation of forager societies raises the question of whether these conflicts were inherently genocidal, an issue not yet addressed by scholars in a systematic way until the publication of the Berghahn Books edition of "Genocide on Settler Frontiers: When Hunter-Gatherers and Commercial Stock Farmers Clash".

Critique: Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Mohamed Adhikari (Associate Professor, Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa and Vice-President of the International Network of Genocide Scholars), "Genocide on Settler Frontiers: When Hunter-Gatherers and Commercial Stock Farmers Clash" is a compendium of twelve seminal and impressively researched scholarly articles by expert contributors. Of special note is 'Dispossession, Ecocide, Genocide: Cattle Ranching and Agriculture in the Destruction of Hunting Cultures on the Canadian Prairies" by Sidney L. Harring. Enhanced with the inclusion of a thirty-four page Select Bibliography and a seventeen page Index, "Genocide on Settler Frontiers" is very highly recommended as a unique contribution to academic library Indigenous Cultures reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior
Ernest Robert Zimmermann
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9780888646736, $29.95, 300pp,

Synopsis: For 18 months during World War II, the Canadian military interned 1,145 prisoners of war in Red Rock, Ontario (about 100 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay). "Camp R" held an unlikely assortment of German prisoners: Nazis, anti-Nazis, Jews, soldiers, merchant seamen, and refugees whom Britain feared might comprise Hitler's rumored "fifth column" of alien enemies residing within the Commonwealth. For the first time and in riveting detail, "The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior: A History of Canadian Internment Camp R" by Ernest Robert Zimmermann illuminates the conditions of one of Canada's forgotten POW camps. Through interviews and meticulous archival research, Zimmermann fleshes out this rich history. Written in an accessible, lively style, "The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior" will captivate military and political historians as well as non-specialist general readers with an interested in the history of World War II POWs and their internment in Canada.

Critique: An impressive work of seminal scholarly research utilizing original source materials, "The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior: A History of Canadian Internment Camp R" is a substantial and unique contribution that is very highly recommended for academic library 20th Century Canadian History reference collections in general, and World War II supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Dreamers of the Grail
Dale Geraldson
Stone Ring Press
9780982971222 $24.95 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The Holy Grail. Is it the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper or perhaps a more ancient vessel of healing and longevity? For centuries it has been discussed, debated, and occasionally actively sought. What was it like for the eager knights of King Arthur's court to quest after this legendary artifact? Arthurian expert Dale Geraldson offers a glimpse of the mythical heroes that is unlike the other renditions that have come before. Here we meet the younger knights of the realm: the daydreaming errant and the headstrong child of one of Arthur's champions. Together, they go forth in the name of Camelot. Arthur has reigned for more than a score of years, but no longer benefits from Merlin's wise counsel or the idealism felt when he first took the crown. Camelot has earned the rank of greatness, but not without cost. As dark elements from the past threaten rebellion, Arthur must trust in his knights to preserve the legacy of his vision.

Critique: Dreamers of the Grail is a fresh take on the lore of King Arthur and Camelot. Set in an era when Merlin is long absent and Arthur's idealism has waned after reigning for twenty years, Dreamers of the Grail follows two young knights in their search for a legendary artifact. Vivid descriptions and the sweeping turn of history color this fantastic adventure of bravery and the stuff of legends.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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