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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 12 December 2015 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Chutsky's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Kevin's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Captain James Cook
Richard Hough
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10110
0393036804 (HC) $TBA
0393036804 (PB), $24.95

A. G. Moore

James Cook ranks high on any list of Britain's most important explorers. In "Captain James Cook" Richard Hough explains why.

Histories have long credited Cook with discovering Hawaii and New Zealand, among other lands. Over the course of three voyages, Cook charted oceans and coastlines. Each of his three Pacific expeditions lasted for several years and saw the deaths of many crew members. Cook himself perished on the last voyage.

Hough's book, though responsible and well-written, may become an anachronism in the years ahead. Times change and with them values.

It used to be acceptable for an educated person to declare that the discoverer of Hawaii was Captain James Cook. It was also acceptable, at one time, to heap praise upon explorers who opened territory for European expansion. That time is swiftly passing.

Who discovered Hawaii? Who discovered New Zealand? Certainly not Cook, for these places were inhabited by people with long-established cultures and governments at the time of Cook's landing. Hawaii, for example, was settled, historians estimate, by Polynesian navigators some 1400 years before Cook sighted the archipelago. New Zealand, likewise, was settled by Polynesians sometime in the 13th century, historians agree.

Values evolve. It is for this reason that Hough's book, and others like it, will likely fall out of fashion. Future sensibilities will be more receptive to books that regard European explorers as what they in fact were--invaders. These adventurers, representing various governments, were no less invaders than were Norse raiders who harassed the English in the 8th century or Goths who descended on Rome in the fifth.

The impact of European expansion in the Pacific, however, was often more devastating to indigenous cultures than the Norse or Goths were to the English or the Romans. Indigenous populations became extinct, in some instances. This was true of Tasmania, where the last full-blooded Tasmanian, Truganini, is believed to have died in 1876.

"Captain James Cook" is a very good book. Readers who are looking for a thorough biography or a comprehensive history will appreciate Hough's fastidious research. Hough writes engagingly and skillfully. He quotes liberally from original sources, most especially from the journals of men who sailed with Cook, and from Cook's own journal. These first-person accounts bear witness not only to the deeds of the voyagers but also to their state of mind. The journal excerpts support Hough's account and enrich it.

Cook, for example, reveals a conflict of conscience. Though he carried the cultural biases of his time, he also evinced an awareness of moral issues. He expressed concern about the "innocents" of Hawaii who would be exposed to venereal disease through contact with his crew. However, though he was a disciplined commander and ran a tight ship, he took no serious measures to protect Hawaiians from intimate contact with his men. A variety of diseases, including venereal diseases, were transmitted to Hawaiians. Eventually these diseases decimated the indigenous population.

In attempting to frame the character of his subject, Hough describes a captain who changed over the years. Cook is portrayed, on his first two voyages, as having a benevolent, even compassionate, attitude towards indigenous peoples. However, Hough paints a different portrait of Cook on his third and final voyage to the Pacific. Hough believes the captain suffered from an undiagnosed malady, one that affected his mental state. In this state, Cook ordered that a number of barbarous punishments be inflicted on offending crew members and on 'natives'. Punishments included flogging and ear amputation.

I learned a great deal from this book. I learned about geography, navigation and about the way 19th century mariners lived. The most important lesson I took from the book however, reinforced something I already understood. It's easy to fall prey to the beliefs of our culture, to become blind to the moral contradictions inherent in our own actions.

Today I judge many of James Cook's actions to be immoral. However, Cook behaved in a way that he and his contemporaries believed to be honorable. I suppose, by one measure he was. But if you ask a Hawaiian, or a Maori, about Cook's exploits, you will likely hear different view of the man's character.

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
Jonathan Bate
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062362438, $40.00, hardback, 662 pages,

Ann Skea, Reviewer

From the start, the style of this book is that of storytelling and it fits well into the current fashion for novelised biographies. The first chapter 'The Deposition', begins like a courtroom drama, with dialogue taken from the deposition made by Ted Hughes as a defendant in the trial occasioned by Jane Anderson's charge of libel over the representation of her in Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar.

Bate's text is fluent, sometimes poetic, and richly embellished with descriptive and emotive adjectives. A respected female BBC producer is "dumpy", "bustling", "middle-aged and unmarried"; one Cambridge man is a "paunchy friend"; the clergyman who married Ted and Sylvia is "twinkle eyed" ("bright-eyed" was Sylvia's description); and the influential critic Al Alvarez is "the pugnacious, poker-playing boxer" whose own poetry "was thin gruel".

All this makes for easy reading for the general reader. It is worrying, however, when this storytelling approach is applied to interpretation of Ted's poems.

I was stopped short on page 4 where Bate interprets the "you" in Ted's poem, 'You claw the door', as Sylvia trying to "escape the house" after a quarrel with Ted. On its first publication in Remains of Elmet, the first line of the poem - "you claw the door" - was also its title. The second line contained only one word "rain", isolated on the far right of the text and followed in the third line by "Crashes the black taut glass". Lights do not "twinkle in the valley", as Bate has it, but "splinter from their sockets" in "foundering valleys, in the gulf". In Ted's poem a generic domestic scene of "conversation and telly and dishes" is contrasted briefly with the wild elements. There is no Beacon (this title appeared first in the slightly re-ordered version of the poem in Elmet), no Sylvia, and no "trapped animal", only the "wolf's wraith / That cannot any longer on all these hills / Find her pelt". If a student of English literature presented Bate's version in an essay, they would be marked down for offering imaginative interpretation as fact and for not quoting the poem correctly.

It gets worse. On page 342 Bate repeats that "a woman claws the door of the house" and states that Ted "explicitly linked" this poem to Sylvia. Only in a more extended discussion of the poem on pages 393-5 does he revealed the original placing of this poem in Remains of Elmet as the first of four poems, the second, third and fourth being respectively 'Emily Bronte', 'Haworth Parsonage' and 'Top Withens'. Here, he states confidently that "there is no doubting the identity of "you": it is Sylvia, trapped in the Hughes family home". He then refers to Sylvia's poem 'Wuthering Heights' from which, according to him, Ted borrowed "the lights twinkling from the valley" (in Sylvia's poem they "gleam like small change"). And he goes on to link Sylvia with Emily Bronte and her death, and, via Sylvia's treatment for depression and Ted's word "electrocuted" (in 'Haworth Parsonage'), with Bramwell Bronte. From here, it is a short step to suggesting that Sylvia is also the 'you' in the poems 'Churn-milk Joan' (which he describes as "the story of a rape and murder") and 'Bridestones' (which has "a grave" in which, according to Bate, there lies "the dead bride").

This is just one possible imaginative interpretation of 'You claw the door'. Given its original placement, and the locations and the imagery of this group of four poems, I could as easily imagine that the 'you' is the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw, which in Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights, fights to get into the house on just such a wild night as Ted's poem evokes. In his desire to see Sylvia present in all of Ted's work Bate makes similar imaginative and questionable interpretations of many other poems.

In Remains of Elmet, which Ted told Stephen Spender was mainly "childhood impressions filtered through my mother's feelings for that landscape"(TH to SS, 9.10.79), Bate suggests that Ted's naming of Esther and Sylvia, amongst other family members named in 'Heptonstall Cemetery' presents "Sylvia in double form, as both herself and as the Esther of The Bell Jar". It seems highly unlikely that Ted would want to resurrect the soul of a fictional character like Sylvia's Esther Greenwood, especially one associated with the trouble and expense caused him by the USA libel trial. Admittedly Esther seems not to be one of the Hughes/Farrar family actually buried in the cemetery at Heptonstall, but Ted did know another Esther, Leonard Baskin's first wife, with whom he and Sylvia had been friends. In January 1959, Sylvia sent Esther Baskin Ted's poem 'Esther's Tomcat', which includes the legend of the Knight-killing cat of Barnburgh – a town within easy hiking distance of Ted's childhood home in Mexborough.

The Westward flying swans in 'Heptonstall Cemetery' are certainly a traditional symbol of faithfulness as Bate says, but they are also, as Ted well knew, the totem animals of the bards - creatures of air, earth and water which, in Celtic myth, are symbols of the soul, and which fly across the Threshold between life and death. The West is where the Celtic Otherworld is located.

In his 'Deposition' chapter, Bate lays out his own rule for tackling the biography which Ted always said should never be written. "The cardinal rule is this: the work and how it came into being is what it is worth writing about, what is to be respected. The life is invoked in order to illuminate the work; the biographical impulse must be at one with the literary-critical".

In a defensive Endnote, as if he might be accused of some nefarious purpose in writing this book, Bate claims that one of his principal aims "is to explicate, celebrate and immortalise the writings of Ted Hughes, both published and unpublished, so as to bring him new readers... and thus to further the interests of the Estate". Since the Estate has, since the publication of the book, pointed out errors and protested at "unsubstantiated claims", he seems not to have achieved the last of these aims. But what about the first?

He deals well with identifying and paraphrasing some of the unpublished material in the British Library archives which relates to Sylvia and Assia, although, as he notes on page 17, "Ted's journal-style writings are scattered across a huge number of yellowing notebooks, torn jotter pads and thick sheaves of loose pages" and the manuscript pages in the archive cover a great range of diverse subjects. Much of the material for his discussion of Capriccio and Birthday Letters is paraphrased from the published sequences but his notes on the existence and content of some of the many pages which relate to specific poems in other sequences may be of value to scholars. And he deals at some length with Elmet, Gaudete and with Crow. But his desire to find biographical content in everything leads to some misguided interpretations and the "biographical impulse" over-rides the "literary-critical".

He begins his chapter 'The Crow' with a story about Ted looking at the sky and seeing an aircraft and a crow. As elsewhere in this book, any mention of an aircraft in Ted's work is seen as a link with his brother Gerald in Australia, but there is no hint of Gerald in the passage from Ted's essay on 'Words and Experience' (PIM 118-124) to which Bate is here referring. There is a crow, and the description of its flight as "the ominous thing", "the barefaced bandit thing, the tattered beggarly gypsy thing", is Ted's. However, it is not the crow in Ted's essay which will "unlock the doors of all those many mansions inside the head" but "art – music, painting, dancing, sculpture, and the activity that includes all these, which is poetry". And Ted specifically states that there are "more important things than crows to try and say something about".

Discussing the vacanas which form much of the 'Epilogue', of Gaudete, and some of which appear in Orts, Bate again wishes to identify Sylvia as their subject. These vacanas, many of which remain unpublished, were Ted's response to the Siva-worshipping Indian songs he had found in Ramanujan's book, Speaking of Siva. They are Ted's negotiations with the Goddess, and many of them are addressed specifically to his "Lady of the Hill". Of course, as he writes in one of these unpublished poems, "It has taken every living woman / To make a body for you to live in" (Vacana VN 54. Ted Hughes' Vacanas: The Difficulties of a Bridegroom, which is my detailed account of Ted's work with these vacanas, can be found at

There are many instances of small but significant changes to Ted's text and of the selection and omission of particular parts of his text to suit Bate's 'story'. And his dealings with Ted's poetic sequences are often perfunctory. Many would disagree with his claim that Lupercal is "without doubt... Ted Hughes' best and most characteristic volume of poetry". In Flowers and Insects, he deems Ted's poetry to be "pedestrian". In this luxurious (in the old sense of sensuous and voluptuous) book, embellished with Baskin's beautiful paintings, the descriptions of, for example, 'Big Poppy' as a "Hot eyed Mafia queen", and a tortoiseshell butterfly "drunk with earth-sweat" settling "to nod her long spring tongue down / Into the nestling pleats, into the flower's / Thick-folded throat" or "attaching her weightless yacht" to the crest of a Dandelion, are hardly pedestrian. And the imagery in 'Sketch of a Goddess' is frankly erotic.

Ted's translations are dealt with very briefly. Of Moortown, Bate writes "only two of the poems stick in the reader's mind". He found Cave Birds "provisional and fragmented" and its "arcane ritual" a "chasm". And Adam and the Sacred Nine is allowed just one paragraph.

As one might expect, Bate, as a respected Shakespearian scholar, outlines very well the genesis, development and theme of Ted's Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being as it maps the "Venus/Adonis/boar (sex/will/death) triad" across Shakespeare's works. But he hones in on Ted's suggestions about Shakespeare's life and links these with Ted's own biography. In particular, he picks out a single paragraph from Ted's additional notes, A Working Definition of the Mythic, which Ted intended to be added to his introduction in any second edition. The section in which this paragraph occurs paraphrases an argument about Sylvia's work which Ted made more fully in 'The Evolution of Sheep in Fog' (WP 191-211), and which Ted used as an example of the way mythic poetry, often unconsciously, combines, with visionary intensity, images of a subjective experience. Ted goes on to explain that the sections of Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being "follow step-by-step" the development of Shakespeare's "mythic personality". It is clear, as Bate says, that Ted's analysis of Shakespeare's work reflects the development of his own mythic personality. Ted recognised this himself when he explained that all poets find "metaphors for their own nature", and this "master plan of their whole make up" is projected into their work. Shakespeare's "particular knot of obsessions", as Ted called it, was very similar to his own and Ted was, as I argue in my article Ted Hughes and Shakespeare (Litro 133, April 2014 republished at, uniquely qualified to recognise in Shakespeare an underlying theme which others had never noticed. To equate this insight to an alphabetical formula which, according to Bate, is "Ted's own story" of the three sexual liaisons which Ted, as an unmarried man, conducted "in the late Sixties" is reductive in the extreme.

Which brings me to another aspect of Bate's book. In his 'Deposition' he writes that: "women play a huge part in the story of his [Ted's] metamorphosis of life into art. It has accordingly been necessary to include a good deal of sensitive biographical material, but this material is presented in service to the poetry". Fair enough! The women interviewed by Bate were clearly independent, intelligent, had minds of their own and could make their own decisions. But one should perhaps ask how much their memories are coloured by events and emotions, or by other personal reasons. To report their comments and the contents of Ted's manuscripts where they appear is one thing: to report the comments of others about them is hearsay and gossip. And to include Erica Jong's typically sensational and exaggerated fantasies after her one brief meeting with Ted is gratuitous and distasteful. Similarly, to devote four pages to a precis of Emma Tenant's novel adds nothing to our understanding of Ted's work. And, later, to provide an extended account of Susan Schaeffer's "poisonous" (Bate's word and mine) roman-a-clef, together with comments such as "anyone acquainted with the real Olwyn [Hughes] will smile in recognition..." is unnecessary and callous. I did not smile. And Olwyn herself, in a letter to Shaeffer's husband, Neil, (a copy of which she gave me) wrote that reading the book made her ill; that it was hurtful and malicious; and that she had always considered Susan and Neil to be her friends and had no idea how much Susan must have hated her and the rest of the family.

Bate draws together information from many sources, coordinates it well and makes a good and varied 'story' from the whole. This in itself is interesting. Generally, he acknowledges his sources in his Endnotes. Sometimes he states quite clearly that whole paragraphs are indebted to a particular source: sometimes he does not. Those who have read Gerald Hughes's book Ted and I, for example, and Steve Ely's more recent book Ted Hughes's South Yorkshire, can judge for themselves just how much of these books has been paraphrased and/or borrowed by Bate in his account of Ted's early life: other readers have only a single Endnote reference to each book to guide them. In my own case, at the end of an extract and paraphrasing of my transcripts of two interviews with Ted conducted by Claudia Wright at the Adelaide Festival in 1976, Bate bluntly states: "after the interview they slept together". Where did this come from? It is certainly no part of the interviews I transcribed and he could not have been told it by Claudia, who died in 2005. So, was it a Festival rumour, like the one he says circulated about an affair between Ted and Jennifer Rankin, and which he later accepts as a fact?

Bate, himself, in the interests of a good story, is not above hint-dropping and innuendo. In a discussion of Ted's unpublished poem about Shakespeare drafting a will, he suggests there may be "a shadow story that may one day be revealed". And whilst his outline of Frieda Hughes's autobiographical poems in Forty-Five is a valid way of reflecting her memories of her father's place in her life, his cryptic references to her pin-sticking, mythic/symbolic volume Waxworks, which was written at the time of the fierce family conflict over Ted's will, is not.

He offers no evidence, either, for his suggestion that Ted's discussion of the theme of the Rival Brothers in Shakespeare's work "had autobiographical origins". In fact, his own account of the close friendship between Ted and Gerald shows just the opposite.

In spite of the claims that this is a comprehensive biography, there is much that is left out or barely touched on in this book. Ted's fishing did not "stand in for sex", as Bate would have it. The follies Ted spoke of to Lucas Myers were not just sexual follies but, more importantly, the follies of life – the follies he wrote of in his vacanas as money, politics, religion, food – all the worldly things which kept him from immersing himself in "the pure / Water of the source" (Orts 38) from which he gained his inspiration. Fishing, as Ted wrote in 'Learning to Think' (PIM 60-1) was "a sort of mental exercise" a way of "concentrating on a small point [the float] while at the same time letting your imagination work freely". Fishing was Ted's way of entering "underbeing" ('Go Fishing' CP 652); and of experiencing the dangers and the thrill of being immersed in the world of Nature – the world of his Goddess.

Ted would not have, and did not, describe Yeats as "dabbling" in the supernatural. In his essay A Dancer to God to which Bate refers when he uses this description, Ted wrote that Yeats' appetite for the occult may have seemed "incomprehensible" and "eccentric" to others but Yeats "never abandoned his early resolution to make the work of poetry his first concern, the world of magic his second". As with Yeats, Ted's serious interest in magic was not "bonkers", as Bates would have it. It encompassed, as it did for Yeats, "Eastern mysticism and religious philosophy, the whole tradition of Hermetic magic (which is a good part Jewish Mystical philosophy, not to speak of the mystical philosophy of the Renaissance), the whole historical exploration into spirit life at every level of consciousness, the whole deposit of earlier and other religion, myth, vision, traditional wisdom and story in folk belief" (TH to Sagar 30.8.79).

And Ted's knowledge of Shamanism did not begin with his reading of Eliade's book Shamanism. Clearly this book roused his interest but in a letter to Moelwyn Merchant (29.6.90) he wrote that he had "discovered the literature of Shamanism" at University. He already knew a great deal about negotiating with spirits and souls and about "techniques of moving in a state of ecstasy among various spiritual realms"(WP 56) from his extensive reading of occult material. And it is likely that he attended the lectures of Dr Ethel John Lingren, an authority on shamanism in Manchuria, who, as Robert Leighton reveals in 'What did Ted Learn from Anthropology?' (a paper he presented at the Royal Anthropological Institute in June 2015) lectured in anthropology at Cambridge University when Ted was an undergraduate there.

Bate claims that Birthday Letters was written over many years but identifies its particular 'voice' as first emerging in the Gaudete 'Epilogue' poems which were written in 1973-4. I wrote about this in some detail in my vacanas paper. In particular, however, Bate refers to a certain Silvine notebook in the British Library archive which contains many Birthday Letters drafts, and he links its charred cover with the Lumb Bank fire in 1971. He speculates that at least some of the poems were written in it before 1969. Carol Hughes, in reply to a query of my own about the notebooks and school exercise books in which Ted developed most of the Birthday Letters poems, wrote that the books were bought by Ted in a sale at the local school sometime in the early 70s, and that he then began the Birthday Letters "journey" in the late spring (CH to AS 30.4.2015).

Bate's biography of Ted has already prompted a great variety of responses from journalist and reviewers. These range from outraged headline-grabbing articles about Ted as a sexually deviant monster to balanced pieces of measured praise for the broad scope of the book, the amount of work which has clearly gone into it, and Bate's easy, fluent style of writing and presentation. Such diversity of opinion clearly demonstrates how each writer brings their own subjective feelings, experiences and background knowledge to the book. The same is true about the way Ted's work is read. Each reader sees the work through the prism of their own particular background and interest. There have been Lawrentian, ecological, elegaic, Taoist, Jungian, mythic, and (in my own case) mystical, Cabalistic and Alchemical readings of Ted's work. Bate's particular prism focuses the light on Sylvia and sex.

Brought together, these readings still would not reveal the full spectrum of Ted's genius. Like Shakespeare's, his work offers many different things to many different people. "Finally", as Ted himself said in a letter to Keith Sagar (23.5.74), "poems belong to readers – just as houses belong to those who live in them & not to the builders".

Ted also said of biography: "When the subject is somebody else, the accounts & reports & interpretations sound plausible. When it's yourself you realise what the creative demon is" (TH to Sagar, 10.6.88).

In Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life, Bate's creative demon has been very creative and the "biographical impulse" has outweighed the "literary-critical". Like the rather bumbling God in Ted's Tales of the Early World, he does not get things quite right.

Patient Women
Larissa Shmailo
131 Euclid Avenue, Kenmore, NY 14217
9781609642013, $18.00, 309pp,

K.R. Copeland

Poet/novelist Larissa Shmailo's latest offering, Patient Women, is a raw, unfaltering, fictional story (heavily peppered, no doubt, with the author's own personal anecdotes) that follows the tumultuous life of one highly likeable Nora Nader - a self-deprecating heroine with an indelible edge.

Nora, the daughter of an overbearing mother and an emotionally detached father; both Nazi prison camp survivors, is determined to assert herself and make her way through the world according to her own rules and regulations. Her whirlwind journey begins in 1970's Queens, NY, where Nora, at the tender age of 12, leaves home and takes to the inhospitable streets of NYC.
While battling a plethora of personal demons, including; sex, drug, and alcohol addiction, as well as severe depression ("I'm never happy. I always feel like Auschwitz inside"), we watch in horror as our protagonist devolves from Ivy League student, to waitress, to prostitute ("The best blow job in NY").

Both physical and emotional abuse is prevalent throughout the course of Nora's life, and slowly but surely long-buried secrets are unearthed.

With unrelenting determination, and a little help from her friends (specifically, a drop dead gorgeous drag queen turned AA sponsor named Chrisis, who assures Nora, in regards to sobriety/recovery, "If I can do this, anybody can.") Nora finds herself capable of both physical and spiritual ascent.

At moments painstakingly heart-wrenching, at others, hopefully poetic, Patient Women is ultimately an in-your-face tale about the resilience of the human spirit, in the midst of familial and societal discord, and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

The Walk On: The Triple Threat Book 1
John Feinstein
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385753463, $16.99 HC
9780385753494, $7.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle,

Mary Kincaid, Reviewer

This is the first of The Triple Threat Series about Alex Myers, a high school freshman who had to change schools because his parents are divorcing. Alex is a star athlete who has to prove himself at his new school. This story is about football and his trials as a triple string quarterback.

Here is the opening paragraph:

"Twelve is taken. Make the team and then you can worry about a number. But you aren't going to get twelve."

Alex Myers was standing in front of the equipment cage in the locker room at Chester Heights High School. School didn't open for another week, but football season began on the last Friday in August, so tryouts and practice started early. Alex had two days to show coaches that a freshman should be practicing with the varsity.

He is a new small fish in a strange and larger pond. He is trying to adjust to life without his dad and the friends he had to leave when he moved with his mom and his sister. He is a nice guy who has to ride around on a bicycle because he is only fourteen and isn't old enough to drive.

I have a weakness for sports stories. The characters are always well described and have clearly stated goals. They want to win, make the team, and get the girl. I love clearly stated character goals.

The writing was well done. The game action was well written and kept the pace going. The dialogue was believable for the characters.

Here is an example of the action description:

Alex stepped up. He noticed that Coach Hillier had Jonas ninth in line, meaning he would be Alex's third and last receiver. Alex took the toss that Coach Hillier was making to start each play-sort of a standing snap-then dropped back a couple of steps and easily targeted the 45-yard line, the ball dropping gently into the receiver's hands. Coach Hillier looked at him and just said, "Nice," in a voice so soft Alex was pretty sure he was the only one who could hear it."

If you like action, you'll like this story. If you like suspense, you'll like this story. If you like stories about high school sports, you'll like this story. Not only that, you'll like the other two in the series.

I give this story a five out of a possible five. I like all three things: action, suspense, and sports stories. I like rooting for the underdog, the third string quarterback who is new in school and wants to make the team. I'm not going to tell you if he gets the girl.

Sofia's Tune
Cindy Thomson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781515280774, $14.99, Paperback, 416 pages,

Meagan Myhren-Bennett, Reviewer

Series: Ellis Island
Ellis Island #3

The past is best left to the past - that's what Sofia's family believes and the secrets of the past are destroying her Mamma's mind. A tragedy kept hidden for 19 years has shaped the Falcone family, following them from their old life in Italy to their new life in New York. And when an old photograph is discovered new questions arise - plaguing Sofia with what ifs.

But 1903 New York is not the land of promise many had dreamed of as Antonio Baggio has discovered. His father was dead and there are questions that no one seems willing or able to answer about his death.

When Sofia and Antonio's quests bring them together little do they realize the changes that will result. Both in their own lives and in lives of those around them.

Sofia's a world quite different from our own - one doesn't share their problems with every stranger who happens by. In fact problems and troubles were not even discussed with family and close friends. So when Sofia was brought into the world outside of Little Italy asking for help from those who lived in Hawkins House and were associated with Mrs. Hawkins and the Benevolents. But sometimes we have to ask for help, it isn't a sign of weakness, insufficiency, or a betrayal. And when Sofia admits that she needs help her world begins to change for the better and she truly starts to become an American by adding what she was being offered to what she already was.

Those who read the previous Ellis Island books will be delighted to know that Annie and Grace are in this book as well - though they are supporting characters. But it is nice to see how their lives have progressed. You can read Sofia's Tune as a standalone book but if you want a well rounded awareness of Annie, Grace, Mrs Hawkins take time to read Grace's Pictures and Annie's Stories. This book, unlike the previous two, focuses on the Italian immigrant community rather than the Irish community. Who knew that the region of Italy one was from was so important in how one was accepted or rejected among the immigrants.

And one last observation don't you just love the cover - Luigi is the dog and he plays a fairly important part throughout the whole book. (And for those who want to know - he makes it through the whole book).

I was provided an advance proof of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.

Only Superhuman
Christopher L. Bennett
Tor Books
c/o Tor-Forge
175 Fifth Ave., New York NY 10010
9780765368867, $7.99, 390 pages,

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

In the early 22nd Century, Mankind has expanded into the Asteroid Belt, allowing people to set up all sorts of societies. A major issue is the attitude concerning genetic and cybernetic modifications of people. Earth and its nearby colonies banned such practices many years ago, but, in the Belt, anything goes.

Emerald Blair is one such "mod." Inspired by old-time comic books, she and other mods join together to form the Troubleshooters, policing the Belt as best they can. Emerald had a difficult home life, and strongly believes in not taking another human life, if at all possible.

The Troubleshooters work for a powerful man named Gregory Tai, who feels that all the separate Belt societies (or, at least, the major ones) should be politically united, under his leadership. Emerald has a falling out with her colleagues, and meets an equally powerful man named Eliot Thorne. If there is such a thing as the "father" of genetic modifications, it's Eliot Thorne. He is also very handsome, and his daughter, Psyche, is beyond gorgeous. He is putting together a major conference, so that several of the major Belt societies can form an alliance. Emerald sees the rest of the Troubleshooters engage in some very questionable behavior (the Thorne's have convinced Emerald that Gregory Tai is the "enemy").

Are Eliot's motives really as innocent as they sound? Is Psyche more than just Eliot's daughter? Does Emerald rejoin the Troubleshooters?

Inspired by comic books, this novel is pretty good. It feels plausible, both scientifically and socially. On the good, or bad, side, there is a lot of sex in this book, maybe a little too much. Yes, this book is worth the time.

Farewell, Aleppo
Claudette Sutton
Terra Nova Books
33 Alondra Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508
9781938288401, $16.95, 178pp,

Foreword Reviews
Winter 2015 Issue

Farewell, Aleppo merges the best of family biography with fascinating historical, social, and religious knowledge. Incorporating history, religious struggles, pursuit of dreams, and the strength of kinship, Sutton craftily weaves story lines into an encouraging and intriguing narrative. Sutton's Jewish grandfather, Selim, lived in Aleppo, Syria, as an importer of textiles. Noticing signs of increasing animosity towards Jews as World War II began to unfold, Selim decided that he must find a way to get his family to America. Knowing it would be a long process, he first sent his son Mike (Claudette's father) to Shanghai to work with Selim's brother, Joe. Other family members would follow similar paths.

Sutton vividly describes Jewish history and lifestyle in Syria, and political and cultural stress points between Middle Eastern Jews, Muslims, and other groups, lending insights into current situations in the region. She adds depth with helpful information on world events -- such as the fall of the Ottoman Empire and World War II -- that impacted the family. Sutton appropriately avoids attempting to editorialize or manipulate the historical accounts and simply intertwines them with her family's story for an effective, powerful narration. Sutton's smooth writing style makes Farewell, Aleppo an enjoyable and enlightening story.

Magnetize Money with Energetic Literacy
Rose Rosetree
Women's Intuition Worldwide, LLC
116 Hillsdale Drive, Sterling, VA 20164-1201
9781935214069, $18.95, 333pp, 12 illustrations,

Emma James

Synopsis: "Magnetize Money with Energetic Literacy: 10 Secrets for Success and Prosperity in the Third Millennium" is a self-help book helps those brave souls who are willing to face reality and figure out what are the real rules energetically for playing the game of life... in order to win. Not just spouting more of the usual money-seeking advice in other books about "attracting" wealth, Rose Rosetree offers an alternative understanding informed by energetic literacy -- reading the human energy field in detail. Why don't positive thinking and Law of Attraction Practices produce strong results? And what can work far better to produce success and prosperity?

Readers will find detailed aura-level profiles of the rich and famous, including Bill Gates, Rhonda Byrne, Donald Trump, Esther Hicks, and Warren Buffett, plus summaries of extensive aura reading research into the 100 wealthiest people in America and the world. This inside information reveals precisely how, energetically, these famous people don't necessarily practice what they preach... and what they do instead. Which practical insights can be found from aura-level strengths in the world's wealthiest people? After pinpointing these secrets of success, Rosetree provides a generous supply of "energetic workarounds" and goal-setting techniques that can help readers to become more successful.

In short, this book offers a rare and practical perspective informed by detailed aura reading. Why do some people seem to have no problems with money while others can't seem to get ahead? Readers receive solid help to achieve greater financial success.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, thoroughly researched and clearly presented, "Magnetize Money with Energetic Literacy: 10 Secrets for Success and Prosperity in the Third Millennium" is very highly recommended reading. This how-to helps readers discover what can really help to bring success, based on applying energetic literacy skills to the pursuit of wealth and success. The author is a self-help writer whose credentials include "Aura Reading Through All Your Senses," an international bestseller on the practical uses of aura reading. It should be noted that this title is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Brave, Strong, and True: The Modern Warrior's Battle For Balance
Kate Thomas
Innovo Publishing LLC
159 College St., Collierville, TN 38017
9781613143094, $13.95, 170pp,


Honest, humble, and humorous, I enjoyed every page of this book and plan to share it with everyone I know - veteran and civilian alike! Brave Strong True strikes that balance between story-telling and educating while inspiring you to reflect, learn, and then take action toward creating a more resilient life and helping those you love to do so, as well. There are timeless and universal lessons woven into every chapter. Kate's combination of personal narrative and insightful research gave me more tools to use in my balance toolbox. This is a book I will certainly reread and reference for years to come.

Mr. Robert's Bones
Gary Gautier
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1507708270, $6.99, 152 pages,

Steve Morris

Mr. Robert's Bones is set in New Orleans in the days and weeks before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. It succeeds very well in conjuring up the setting and atmosphere of this fascinating city at that moment in time. (I visited New Orleans myself just weeks before Katrina hit, and I loved the evocative descriptions of the city.)

It's a tale of buried treasure, ghosts, villains and skullduggery. It's also a story of racism and injustice, and how the past casts its shadow over the present.

The three central characters are children – two white sisters and one black boy – and for that reason, as well as the setting and the theme of racism, it very much reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird. Both books employ a similar whimsical approach to their storytelling.

The prose skims lightly across the story, brushing against it, and sometimes pulling away to view the characters from afar.

At first I wasn't sure what to make of this book, but after a few chapters I realized that it was a humorous and often charming story. For example, the main villain is a Mr. Tyler Rex, or T. Rex to those who know him well. There are many poignant moments too, especially involving the interactions of the three children with each other and with their parents.

The book is a novella of around 150 pages, and it would perhaps have been nice if it could have been developed into a full length novel, or at least a longer work, perhaps by elaborating on the past events that are described in the book, and giving some of the characters a little more rounding out.

In the end I decided to rate the book at 4 stars, because although it's a very enjoyable read, I found the prose sometimes a little too florid for my taste, and also there are occasional sudden changes of tense that I found disconcerting. Perhaps most readers wouldn't be bothered by this, and I would thoroughly recommend giving it a try.

I would definitely read more by this author.

Andrea's Bookshelf

This Economy Kills
Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500
Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814647257 $19.95

It is dishearteningly common for pundits and commentators to oversimplify Pope Francis' words about economic injustice, distorting his message into extreme hyperbole, or even alleging him to be a "Marxist Pope". This Economy Kills presents the Pope's full, reasoned, and nuanced message, quoting his words without misleading truncations, and reflecting on their meaning. The testimony revealed is of a spiritual leader horrified by the persistence of war for economic gain, rampant environmental destruction, and the "globalization of indifference" to suffering and poverty worldwide. How can the worst excesses of unfettered capitalism be responsibly reined in? This Economy Kills also includes a new interview with Pope Francis, and is highly recommended for readers of all faiths and backgrounds.

Confessions of an English Opium -Eater
Thomas De Quincey, author
Read by Gunnar Cauthery
Naxos of America, Inc.
1810 Columbia Avenue, Suite 28
Franklin, TN 37064
9781843799177 $22.98

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is the unabridged audiobook rendition of an autobiographical work by Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859), who was prescribed the drug opium for pain relief from a chronic condition, and became an addict fascinated by his hallucinatory experiences while intoxicated. De Quincey's memoir is a striking portrayal of life in thrall to a drug, yet has been controversial throughout the decades for being far too positive. Indeed, multiple literary figures allegedly became opium addicts because they were intrigued by De Quincey's writings. While Confessions of an Opium Addict needs to be balanced with extensive, society-wide education about the horrific harm that narcotic addiction causes (both to the addict and to society at large), it remains a literary work of incalculable historical significance. This superb audiobook edition is smoothly performed by professional theater actor Gunnar Cauthery. 3 CDs, 3 hours 41 min. 25 sec.

Andrea Kay

Bethany's Bookshelf

Christmas Wonders
Robyn Buttars
1254 Commerce Way, Sanger, CA 93657
9781942934059, $18.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: Have a wonder-filled Christmas, people in Lukes new hometown greet one another as Christmas approaches. With no memory of a Christmas celebration, ten-year-old Luke feels excluded from the town's tradition, until he finds his deceased mother's nativity set. Touched by Mary's protecting embrace of the Baby Jesus, Luke experiences his first Christmas Wonder. His discovery is the catalyst for a search that leads to a soul-changing season for neighbors as Luke finds his connection to heavenly love. In the pages of "Christmas Wonders", Robyn Buttars, author of the best-selling and award winning novella "Christmas Rose" (Shadow Mountain, $8.95 Kindle), weaves an unforgettable holiday story for the entire family.

Critique: Heartwarming and inspirational, Christmas Wonders is a story of the transformative powers of love and faith, highly recommended for church and community library Christmas Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Christmas Rose" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

Snakes, Alligators, and Broken Hearts - Journeys of a Biologist's Son
Sneed B. Collard III
Bucking Horse Books
c/o Mountain Press Publishing Company (dist.)
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780984446063 $17.00

Synopsis: Snakes, Alligators, and Broken Hearts recounts the author's adventures and experiences growing up as the son of a biologist during the 1960s and 70s. With humor and compassion, the author describes the innocence of his early childhood, the heartbreak of his parents' divorce, and his rocky journey through adolescence - all against the backdrop of animals, travel, and his poignant relationship with his father. Along the way, readers will discover the experiences that shaped his interests and, eventually, molded him into the author of more than seventy books for young people.

Critique: At times witty, at times poignant, Snakes, Alligators, and Broken Hearts is a balance of playful humor and hard-learned life lessons. Recounting decades past with a robust sense of adventure, Snakes Alligators, and Broken Hearts is immersive and hard to put down. Highly recommended!

Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning
Katie Egan Cunningham
Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781625310248, $21.00, 190pp,

Synopsis: Stories surround us, support us, and sustain us. We see and hear them when walking down the street, on our digital newsfeeds, in our interactions with one another, in the ways our students play, and in literature, poetry, music, images, multimedia, and dramatic works.

While acknowledging the importance of teaching students strategies to read different kinds of text, to write across genres, and to speak and listen with purpose, "Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning" by Katie Egan Cunningham reminds us that when we bridge strategy with the power of story, we deepen literacy learning and foster authentic engagement. "Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning" compels us to ask crucial questions: Why do stories matter? Whose stories count? Where do stories live? How do stories come alive? How do we build stories? How do we talk about stories? And why does this work take courage?

In the pages of "Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning" Katie shares her story as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, staff developer, and professor. She shows teachers how to create classrooms of caring and inquisitive readers, writers, and storytellers. Katie explains specific ways to build a classroom library that reflects our diverse society through rich, purposeful, and varied texts. She also provides numerous examples of multigenre and multimodal stories from children's and young adult literature, poetry, songs, and multimedia. The practical toolkit at the end of each chapter demonstrates how to make stories come alive in any classroom.

Critique: Katie Egan Cunningham is a veteran classroom teacher, a literacy consultant, and an assistant professor at Manhattanville College. She is the coauthor of the popular blog "The Classroom Bookshelf" as well as the coauthor of "Literacy Leadership in Changing Schools" (Teachers College Press, 9780807757130, $36.95, 312pp, 2015). In "Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to present a complete course of instruction for classroom teachers for grades K-8 that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful, practical, and effective. "Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning" is very highly recommended for professional and academic library Educational Instruction reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Desperate Measures
Jo Bannister
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250075666, $25.99, 320pp,

Synopsis: When Gabriel Ash's wife and kids were kidnapped four years ago by Somali pirates, his life spiraled out of control. He left his job working for the British government and moved to a small town where he descended into near madness. But with the help of his dog, Patience, and his friendship with young police officer Hazel Best, his focus returned. So when he discovers that his wife is still alive, Ash is once again filled with hope and fear. Hope that he has another chance to find her and their two young sons; fear that, in trying, he may bring about their deaths. Hazel is deeply worried for Ash. But even she is unprepared for what Ash seems willing to do to secure the safety of his wife and children. In fact, nothing is as it seems and loyalty, friendship, and family bonds will be called into question. When Ash learns who was behind the events that wrecked his life and his sanity, even the resourceful Hazel might not be able to keep him from getting hurt. How much is Ash willing to sacrifice in order to bring his family home and bring justice to those responsible?

Critique: Once again author Jo Bannister demonstrates her total mastery of the police procedural mystery novel genre with "Desperate Measures". A terrific and absorbing read from beginning to end, "Desperate Measures" is very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Desperate Measures" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

All of Us and Everything
Bridget Asher
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385343930, $15.00, 352pp,

Synopsis: When the Rockwell sisters Esme, Liv, and Ru were young and living with their eccentric mother, Augusta, she silenced all talk among the girls of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters' concept of family to smithereens, sending them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past as well as one another.

Critique: A brilliant, entertaining, deftly crafted, original story that fully absorbs the readers full attention from beginning to end, "All of Us and Everything" is very highly recommended and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "All of Us and Everything" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Dark Turns
Cate Holahan
Crooked Lane Books
9781629531939, $24.99, 336pp,

Synopsis: Nia Washington is an incredibly talented ballerina. She fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart derailed her career. Taking a temporary job at an elite boarding school was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything but. Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. It's not long before she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn't the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

Critique: A simply riveting read from beginning to end, "Dark Turns" aptly demonstrates the impressive storytelling talents of author Cate Holahan. Very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that "Dark Turns" is also available for personal reading lists in a Kindle edition ($9.59).

Killing Trail
Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books
9781629533810, $24.99, 320pp,

Synopsis: When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town. With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole's daughter, who knows more than she's saying. The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn't careful, she and Robo could be next. Suspenseful and smart, Killing Trail is a gripping read that will have readers clamoring for more Mattie and Robo for years to come.

Critique: A deftly crafted mystery that is all the more impressive considering that "Killing Trail" is author Margaret Mizushima's debut as a novelist. Solidly entertaining from beginning to end, "Killing Trail" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Killing Trail" is also available in a paperback edition (9781629534862, $14.99) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Once Shadows Fall
Robert Daniels
Crooked Lane Books
9781629533834, $24.99, 352pp,

Synopsis: After years of paying her dues on the force, Beth Sturgis has earned her place as a detective for the Robbery-Homicide division of the Atlanta PD. Now, she's heading up a major manhunt for a potential serial killer who's working his way inward from the outskirts of the city. The copycat elements in the first crime scene lead Sturgis to retired FBI agent Jack Kale, who was responsible for apprehending and nearly killing the murderer known as the Scarecrow, the same Scarecrow who appears to be this new killer's terrible inspiration. A reclusive single father and university professor, Kale is trying to keep the demons at bay through therapy and avoidance. That is, until Sturgis shows up asking for his help. Against his better judgment, Kale is drawn into the most dangerous cat and mouse game of his life.

Critique: An absolutely absorbing novel from first page to last, "Once Shadows Fall" showcases author Robert Daniel's complete mastery of the mystery thriller genre and is certain to be a favorite for any community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Once Shadows Fall" is also available in a paperback edition (9781629534848, $14.99) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Trans: A Memoir
Juliet Jacques
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781784781644, $26.95, 320pp,

Synopsis: In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery, which is a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national newspaper column. "Trans: A Memoir" tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics. Fresh from university, eager to escape a dead-end job, she launches a career as a writer in a publishing culture dominated by London cliques and still figuring out the impact of the Internet. She navigates the treacherous waters of a world where, even in the liberal and feminist media, transgender identities go unacknowledged, misunderstood or worse. Yet through art, film, music, politics and football, Jacques starts to become the person she had only imagined, and begins the process of transition. Interweaving the personal with the political, her memoir is a powerful exploration of debates that comprise trans politics, issues which promise to redefine our understanding of what it means to be alive. Revealing, honest, humorous, and self-deprecating, "Trans: A Memoir" includes an epilogue with Sheila Heti, author of "How Should a Person Be?" (Picador, 9781250032447, $17.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle), in which Jacques and Heti discuss the cruxes of writing and identity.

Critique: Impressively well written un an unflinching candor, "Trans: A Memoir" is an inherently fascinating read and one of those intensely personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the autobiography is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Trans: A Memoir" is also available in a paperback edition (9781784781675, $24.95) and in a Kindle format ($12.99).

Water Rising
Leila Philip, poet
Gath Evans, artist
New Rivers Press
1104 Seventh Avenue South, Moorhead, MN 56563
9780898233360, $50.00, 60pp,

Synopsis: In 2012, Leila Philip and Garth Evans set out to challenge themselves as artists. Philip, an award-winning memoirist, wrote poems. Evans, an internationally renowned sculptor, made watercolors. "Water Rising" tells the story of this remarkable collaboration. Philip's realist poems about nature, beauty, love, and loss, are set amongst Evans' abstract, deeply hued, layered watercolors. The result is the creation of a book which is more than just a gorgeous read and a visual feast. What emerges in "Water Rising" is a stunning and original collaboration, which, as Worcester Art Museum Director, Matthias Waschek, points out in his introduction, extends how we think about the relationship between painting and poetry.

Critique: With its flawless production values, "Water Rising" is an inherently fascinating read, and one that should be engaged in with a leisurely pace so as to fully appreciate the poetry, the artwork, and how each fully enhances the other. Simply stated, "Water Rising" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, community, and academic library collection.

Magical Designs Coloring Art Book
Samantha Snyder
Art Alley Books
c/o AKA Associations Inc.
9780983918288, $11.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Magical Designs Coloring Art Book" showcases 100 color-it- in-yourself doodle art images of eight design types ranging from abstracts, animals, flowers, and geometrics to hennas, mandalas, nature, and space printed on one side of the page for all ages to color. You can choose your color combinations and be amazed at what patterns they create; discover how to create your own beautiful pictures including geometric and abstract cooling designs; slow down and enjoy the colors and patterns coming to life in front of you to gain greater focus, dedication, and patience; and take a deep breath, sit down, and color. Let the detailed designs take shape before your eyes. Enjoy!

Critique: Samantha Snyder has been doodling her whole life. While teaching elementary school, she often drew up coloring pages and printables for her students and fellow teachers. She decided to start sharing her creations and in 2008, Doodle Art Alley was founded. "Magical Designs Coloring Art Book: 100 Hand-Drawn Inspirations" is the first volume in what promises to be a wonderfully entertaining series of coloring books that will have immense and enduring appeal to young and old alike. Each doodle art image has been carefully selected to provide plenty of coloring enjoyment, inspiration, and relaxation, making "Magical Designs Coloring Art Book: 100 Hand-Drawn Inspirations" very highly recommended as a pastime entertainment of the first order!

Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers
Georgie Newbery
Green Books
Independent Publishers Group (distributor)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780857842534, $34.99, 240pp,

Synopsis: For anyone who wants to add a personal element to their wedding, care for the environment, and save money while they do it, "Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers" is a must-have instructional book. Filled with gorgeous pictures for inspiration, and written in a friendly, no-nonsense style, "Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers" is a practical book that makes growing and arranging your own wedding flowers both achievable and fun, whether you are a beginner or advanced gardener or flower arranger. It takes you through how to grow, cut, plan, and arrange flowers, seasonal planting plans for spring, summer, autumn, and winter weddings, and ideas for planted wedding flower arrangements. Step-by-step guides cover the bridal and bridesmaids' bouquets, flower crowns, wrist corsages and boutonnieres, table centerpieces, garlands, pew ends, and fresh-petal and dry-petal confetti. From jam-jar posies to elaborate arrangements, "Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers" has everything you need.

Critique: Georgie Newbery is an artisan flower farmer and florist who draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to provide a thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction manual and guide that is appropriate and recommended for the non-specialist general reader who would like to use wedding flowers to their maximum affect for the bride, for the groom, and for the guests. A unique and very special addition to both community and academic library collections, as well as being enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists.

Skinny Life
Crystal Dwyer Hansen
Worthy Publishing
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
9781617954931, $15.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Skinny Life: The Real Secret to Being Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually Fit" by life coach Crystal Dwyer Hansen is all about how to be naturally thin, fit, and healthy! Through her Skinny Life(R) program, Crystal Hansen has been changing lives around the world with the bottom-line truth about weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. It's not a diet-diets don't work. It's not a workout-exercise regimes fall by the wayside. The real key to changing your body-and your life--is changing your mind. With practical tools, solid research, and focused affirmations, Crystal guides you to: Get honest about self-defeating thoughts and habits; Replace guilt and shame with a mindset of freedom, self-care, and self-respect; Nourish your body with foods that energize and protect it from disease; Learn what kind of movement brings you joy and integrate it into your daily life; Make weight issues a think of the past. With your new Skinny Life(R) lifestyle, you will uproot destructive beliefs that sabotage weight loss and replace them with positive tools that improve your total health and well-being.

Critique: An informed and informative instruction guide that is thoroughly 'user friendly' and impressively effective, "Skinny Life: The Real Secret to Being Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually Fit" is very highly recommended reading for anyone wanting to improve their health, their mental well-being, and their spiritual sensitivity. Highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Skinny Life: The Real Secret to Being Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually Fit" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

I Was a Boy in Belsen
Tomi Reichental
O'Brien Press
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781847172273, $25.00, 304pp,

Synopsis: Tomi Reichental's idyllic childhood in rural Slovakia was cut short at the age of nine in October 1944, when he was rounded up by the Gestapo after his country's government was taken over by Fascists. Along with twelve other members of his family he was taken to a detention camp where the elusive Nazi War Criminal Alois Brunner had the power of life and death. Tomi lost thirty-five members of his family in the Holocaust, and gives his account of being imprisoned as a child at Belsen concentration camp, as well as the post-war scramble to find a new home and a career. His story is a story of the past. It is also an important story for our times. With black & white plates.

Critique: A horrifying primary source of the Nazi Holocaust, and a harrowing true-life saga of the difficulties in reconstructing one's life after surviving the unthinkable, I Was a Boy in Belsen is a welcome addition to Holocaust Studies collections. I Was a Boy in Belsen shakes the reader to the core with its candid account of genocide, but the testimony is also about learning to rebuild and face each day anew. Highly recommended.

Germans Against Nazism
Francis R. Nicosia & Lawrence d. Stokes, editors
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782388159, $45.00, 443pp,

Synopsis: The Nazi propaganda films showing Hitler being universally adored by the German people are misleading. Rather than being accepted by all of German society, the Nazi regime was resisted in both passive and active forms. Originally published in 1990, this current edition of "Germans Against Nazism: Nonconformity, Opposition and Resistance in the Third Reich: Essays in Honour of Peter Hoffmann" examines opposition to National Socialism by Germans during the Third Reich in its broadest sense. "Germans Against Nazism" considers individual and organized nonconformity, opposition, and resistance, ranging from symbolic acts of disobedience to organized assassination attempts, and looks at how disparate groups such as the Jewish community, churches, conservatives, communists, socialists, and the military all defied the regime in their own ways.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a ten page listing of Contributors; a six page Bibliography; an eighteen page Selected works since 1990; and a six page Index, ""Germans Against Nazism: Nonconformity, Opposition and Resistance in the Third Reich: Essays in Honour of Peter Hoffmann" is a compilation of twenty learned and erudite articles. The result is a masterwork of impeccable and impressive scholarship. "Germans Against Nazism" is a core and essential addition to academic library 20th Century German History reference collections in general, and Nazi History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Nashville Architecture: A Guide to the City
Carroll Van West
The University of Tennessee Press
110 Conference Center UT, Knoxville, TN 37996
9781572339200, $29.95, 278pp,

Synopsis: Since the turn of the eighteenth century, social movements and technological advances have strongly impacted cosmopolitan identity in America. Nashville, in particular, has experienced one transformation after another as change continues to propel history forward. Settlement during the 1700s, war and Reconstruction during the 1800s, and increased immigration, New Deal programs, and the invention of the automobile during the 1900s. These and many other shifts have made Nashville a hub for transportation, trade, and multicultural relations. Modern Nashville is still celebrated for its diversity, commerce, and transportation, while the passing of time is etched in the city's physical identity, juxtaposing the old with the new to demonstrate Nashville's rich architectural history alongside its transformation into modernity. In "Nashville Architecture: A Guide to the City", Carroll Van West (Tennessee State Historian andthe Director of the Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University) examines over 250 properties in Nashville including well-known buildings such as the Ryman Auditorium, the Hermitage Hotel, and Jubilee Hall at Fisk, as well as many other lesser known properties that outline the city's architectural metamorphosis over the course of the past 200 years. From schools and churches to banks and post offices, from apartment and office buildings to plantations and cemeteries, West surveys a wide variety of architectural sites that are found across Nashville and the greater Davidson County area.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of more than 150 maps and photographs, four pages of Notes, two pages of Sources and Suggested Readings, and a thirteen page Index, "Nashville Architecture: A Guide to the City" provides a comprehensive guide and an invaluable resource for scholars and travelers alike. A truly well informed and exceptionally well organized and presented resource, "Nashville Architecture: A Guide to the City" is especially recommended for personal, community, and academic library American Architectural History reference collections in general, and Nashville travel guide itinerary planning resource lists in particular.

Attacking The Zone Defenses
Del Harris & Ken Shields
Champion Productions
2730 Graham Street, Ames, Iowa, 50010
9780991099221, $29.99, 322pp,

Synopsis: Never before has there been a book like "Attacking The Zone Defenses" which has compiled so much material on the zone offense for basketball. Coaching legends Del Harris and Ken Shields cover the basic information needed for novice coaches, as well as a plethora of advanced material for the highest level coaches. The first six chapters start with putting one's toe in the water and gradually takes one waist deep or better in the process. "Attacking The Zone Defenses" has specific approaches to attack every zone defense style including the vaunted match-up zone defense, and has drills for the youth coach, as well as for the advanced coach. Harris and Shields dedicate one chapter to zone attacks from NCAA and European coaches. Coaches and players wil get plays from Steve Alford, John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Sean Miller, Bo Ryan, Bill Self, Zeljko Obradovic, Dave Blatt, and more.

Critique: an absolute "must" for basketball players and their team coaches, "Attacking The Zone Defenses" is as informed and informative as it is impressively 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation. Of special note is the chapter dedicated to Drills for Teaching Zone Offense. Simply stated, "Attacking The Zone Defenses" should be considered an essential, core addition to personal, highschool, college, university, and professional basketball instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

For The Love Of All Creatures
William Greenway
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802872913, $18.00, 176pp,

Synopsis: "For the Love of All Creatures: The Story of Grace in Genesis" is an innovative, broad-ranging book by William Greenway (Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary) which unfolds a biblical spirituality centering on love for all creation and all creatures. Professor Greenway rereads the creation and flood narratives in Genesis from an overtly creature-loving perspective that not only inspires care for creation and its creatures but also reveals sophisticated understandings of faith, grace, and evil vital for twenty-first-century spirituality. Comparing the ancient Israelite cosmology of Genesis with the ancient Babylonian cosmology of the Enuma Elish and with the modern Darwinian cosmology of Thomas Hobbes's "Leviathan", Professor Greenway shows how Genesis extends far beyond those cosmologies in its discernment of the transcending, gracious love of God. Standing at the intersection of animal rights, "green" biblical studies, and philosophical theology, Professor Greenway's "For the Love of All Creatures" is a groundbreaking work that will interest and inform a wide range of readers.

Critique: An impressively written, organized and presented work of original scholarship, "For the Love of All Creatures: The Story of Grace in Genesis" is an inherently absorbing read that is highly recommended to academia and the non-specialist general reader alike. Enhanced with the inclusion of a three page Bibliography and a twenty-page Index, "For The Love Of All Creatures" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to church, community, and academic library Christian Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "For The Love Of All Creatures" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.48).

Financial Inclusion At The Bottom Of The Pyramid
Carol Realini & Karl Mehta
Friesen Press
990 Fort Street, Suite 300, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8V 3K2
9781460265512, $29.99, 256pp,

Synopsis: As incredible as it may seem in this hyper-connected, technologically advanced era, half the planet's population exist as "financial nomads" -- those who nourish and shelter themselves without using traditional banking services. While the wealthy live at the top of a metaphorical pyramid, taking financial security and banking services for granted, there are billions of people who struggle at the pyramid's base in an exhausting state of financial exclusion and insecurity. Times are changing rapidly, but despite global uncertainty, technology has the capacity to reach and equip people in all walks of life. Advances in communications have reconfigured the ease with which we interact with our money -- and these advances can provide innovative financial services to the un-banked and under-served around the world. Financial inclusion for all is indeed within our reach, and with this conviction, authors Karl Mehta (a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley) and Carol Realini (a serial entrepreneur and globally-recognized technology pioneer) propose a vision for a better world and a blueprint to get there.

Critique: A critically important study on how global technology is impacting financial institutions and networks, affecting and changing the lives of millions of people, "Financial Inclusion At The Bottom Of The Pyramid" is a compelling read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An impressive collaboration, "Financial Inclusion At The Bottom Of The Pyramid" is very highly recommended for the non-specialist general reader and community library collections, as well as the Economics Studies reference collections of college and university libraries. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Financial Inclusion At The Bottom Of The Pyramid" is also available in a paperback edition (9781460265529, $17.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Letters of Robert Giroux and Thomas Merton
Patrick Samway, S.J., editor
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268017866, $29.00, 408pp,

Synopsis: From the time they first met as undergraduates at Columbia College in New York City in the mid-1930s, the noted editor Robert Giroux (1914–2008) and the Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton (1915–1968) became friends. "The Letters of Robert Giroux and Thomas Merton" capture their personal and professional relationship, extending from the time of the publication of Merton's 1948 best-selling spiritual autobiography, "The Seven Storey Mountain", until a few months before Merton's untimely death in December 1968. As editor-in-chief at Harcourt, Brace & Company and then at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Robert Giroux not only edited twenty-six of Merton's books but served as an adviser to Merton as he dealt with unexpected problems with his religious superiors at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky, as well as those in France and Italy. These letters are arranged chronologically and offer invaluable insights into the publishing process that brought some of Merton's most important writings to his readers. In his role as the editor of "The Letters of Robert Giroux and Thomas Merton", Patrick Samway, S.J., had unparalleled access not only to the materials assembled here but to Giroux's unpublished talks about Merton, which he uses to his advantage, especially in his beautifully crafted introduction that interweaves the stories of both men with a chronicle of their personal and collaborative relationship. The result is a rich and rewarding volume, which shows how Giroux helped Merton to become one of the greatest spiritual writers of the twentieth century.

Critique: Simply stated, "The Letters of Robert Giroux and Thomas Merton" as compiled and edited by the Jesuit scholar Patrick Samway (Professor Emeritus of English at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia) is a "must read" for the legions of Thomas Merton enthusiasts whose lives have been touched by his writings. This extraordinary collection of correspondence will also prove to be of immense interest to anyone with an interest in the publishing process that Merton engaged in with the editorial assistance and under the influence of Robert Giroux. An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "The Letters of Robert Giroux and Thomas Merton" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Letters of Robert Giroux and Thomas Merton" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.55).

Attitude Reflects Leadership
Leo Hamblin
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511749404, $15.95, 184pp,

Synopsis: "Attitude Reflects Leadership" by Leo Hamblin is an honest glimpse into what it takes to be an exceptional leader. People naturally follow the attitude of their leader. Whatever attitude, behavior or belief you want your employees to have, you must lead with it first. "Attitude Reflects Leadership" contains powerful and useful information to those who are searching for what it takes to become an extraordinary leader. Many leaders today create replaceable, unhappy employees because of their self-defeating attitudes and delusional perspectives. Terrible management and bad bosses are the reason 71% of employees in the workforce today are unhappy with their jobs. This is unacceptable! "Attitude Reflects Leadership" provides compelling perspectives for those courageous enough to make a change and take a stand against the tyranny of poor leadership. Brilliant, simple and captivating, "Attitude Reflects Leadership" will empower and inspire everyone who reads it.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, organization, and presentation, "Attitude Reflects Leadership" is a complete and effective course of instruction under one cover. Especially commended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader who would like to develop, improve, and enhance their leadership skills and abilities, "Attitude Reflects Leadership" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improve instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Attitude Reflects Leadership" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

How to Make Powerful Speeches
Eamonn O'Brien
The Reluctant Speakers Club
9780992816452, $14.79, 232pp,

Synopsis: Less than 1 in 4 Business people claim to have any confidence in public speaking. That's the reason for this newly revised and expanded second edition of "How to Make Powerful Speeches: A Step-by-Step Guide to Inspiring and Memorable Speeches" was published by The Reluctant Speakers Club, an organization where thousands of reluctant speakers have discovered how to transform their speech making abilities; helping them to inspire others with their ideas. In the pages of "How to Make Powerful Speeches", Eamonn O'Brien (Founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club, and an experienced public speaking coach) helps the reader to banish their fear of the podium forever. "How to Make Powerful Speeches" carefully and thoroughly explains how to connect with audiences, construct credible arguments and give talks for maximum impact and persuasion. "How to Make Powerful Speeches", covers all pertinent issues including: What it takes to create a truly compelling speech; How to discover and develop key messages; How to analyze audiences for greater impact; How to establish your credibility with any audience; Why you should let your personality shine through in your speeches; Communicating with eye contact, hand gestures, and other body language; Delivering content your audience truly cares about; When and how to use humor in speeches; Essential rules for creating winning visual aids; and Secrets to backing up and demonstrating arguments.

Critique: Exceptionally 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization, and presentation, ""How to Make Powerful Speeches: A Step-by-Step Guide to Inspiring and Memorable Speeches" is strongly recommended reading for anyone having to engage in public speaking or who seeks to be a more effective speaker in any context or forum. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Make Powerful Speeches" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.97).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Crashing the Party
Kris Hermes
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629631028, $22.95, 352pp,

Synopsis: Over the past 15 years, people in the United States (and dissidents in particular) have witnessed a steady escalation of the National Security State, including invasive surveillance and infiltration, indiscriminate police violence, and the militarization of local police forces, and unlawful arrests. These concerted efforts to spy on Americans and undermine meaningful social change are greatly enhanced by the coordination of numerous local, state, and federal agencies often operating at the behest of private corporations. "Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000" shows how these developments, normally associated with the realities of a post–9/11 world, were already being set in motion during the Republican National Convention protests in 2000. "Crashing the Party" also documents how, in response, dissidents confronted new forms of political repression by pushing legal boundaries and establishing new models of collective resistance. "Crashing the Party" explains how the events of 2000 acted as a testing ground in which Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney was able to develop repressive methods of policing that have been used extensively across the U.S. ever since. At the same time, these events also provided a laboratory for the radical, innovative, and confrontational forms of legal support carried out by R2K Legal, a defendant-led collective that raised unprecedented amounts of money for legal defense, used a unique form of court solidarity to overcome hundreds of serious charges, and implemented a PR campaign that turned the tide of public opinion in favor of dissidents. While much has been written about the global-justice era of struggle, little attention has been paid to the legal struggles of the period or the renewed use of solidarity tactics in jail and the courtroom that made them possible. By analyzing the successes and failures of these tactics, "Crashing the Party" offers rare insight into the mechanics and concrete effects of such resistance. In this way, it is an invaluable resource for those seeking to confront today's renewed counterintelligence tactics.

Critique: "Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000" by Kris Hermes (a Bay Area–based activist who has worked for nearly 30 years on social justice issues and is an active, award-winning legal worker-member of the National Lawyers Guild) is an inherently compelling and absorbing read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A meticulously presented study, "Crashing the Party" is a very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, as well as an instructive and useful study for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the steadily expanding authority of the Homeland Security governance of the country on municipal, state-wide, regional, and national levels.

Kat of Green Tentacles
Sam Stone
Telos Publishing
9781845839253, $19.99, 190pp,

Synopsis: Kat Lightfoot is back in "Kat of Green Tentacles"! Sam Stone's feisty heroine returns in a new mystery/fantasy adventure, and this time it's the forces of the dark, and the great Elder Gods that she has to contend with. When Kat, Pepper and Martin are asked to investigate a girls' finishing school, the obvious answer is for Kat to pose as a teacher. Girls have been disappearing, and the school just feels wrong and oppressive. Before long, Kat is trapped in the cellars, an unknown assailant on her heels ... but rescue comes from an unexpected source. What secret does the strange altar room in the cellars hold? What is making the strange slithering sounds which permeate the house? And who is Edward Brewster and what does he know about the missing girls? It's another mystery for Kat and her friends to solve. "Kat of Green Tentacles" is a tale of Lovecraftian horror from the author of "Zombies at Tiffany's", "Kat on a Hot Tin Airship", and "What's Dead PussyKat".

Critique: The fourth Kate Lightfoot adventure, author Sam Stone is clearly a master of the genre and an author of truly impressive and original storytelling skills. A completely independent and 'stand alone' read, "Kat of Green Tentacles" is an absolute must for Kate Lightfoot fans, and for those new to the character, will be an irresistible inducement to seek out the three earlier accounts of her adventures. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kat of Green Tentacles" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Mission Critical
Michael Abrams & Julia Taylor Kennedy
Rare Bird Books
453 South Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angeles, CA 90013
9781942600541, $14.95, 125pp,

Synopsis: The Center for Talent Innovation's new study, "Mission Critical: Unlocking the Value of Veterans in the Workforce", reveals how companies can ensure their veteran talent thrives in the corporate world. Veterans represent a highly desirable talent pool when they transition to civilian careers. They retain the passion for service and camaraderie that drew them into the military, and they bring leadership and technical skills honed in a pressure cooker. In recent years, corporate employers have demonstrated they understand the potential of this valuable cohort by greatly increasing their recruitment efforts. Yet once veterans get through the doors of corporations, they languish. In a matter of months many ambitious, skilled veterans lose their drive, failing to fulfill their leadership potential with more than half saying they don't aspire to hold a more senior position. Many of the remainder feel stalled in their careers. Why? First, leaders don't understand their potential. Second, veterans feel distant from their teams and cover their veteran identity in an effort to get closer. Third, they hunger for meaning and purpose at work, something they found in the military but lack in civilian jobs. "Mission Critical" explores these factors in-depth, especially as they affect women and veterans of color, and offers solutions to companies intent on keeping their veteran talent from tuning out and stalling out.

Critique: The collaborative work of Michael Abrams (President and Founder of Four Block, and who serves as commanding officer of Battery M, 3rd Battalion, in the US Marine Reserves) and Julia Taylor Kennedy (Vice President and Senior Fellow at the Center for Talent Innovation), "Mission Critical: Unlocking the Value of Veterans in the Workforce" is exceptionally well informed and informative. Impressively written, organized and presented from beginning to end, "Mission Critical" is a critically important read and highly recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in veteran's affairs -- as well as corporate leaders and governmental officials wanting to give more than mere lip service to the welfare and well-being of returning veterans. Simply stated, "Mission Critical" should be a part of very community, academic, corporate, and governmental reference collection.

Best Backpacking Trips in California and Nevada
Mike White & Douglas Lorain
University of Nevada Press
Mail Stop 0166, Reno, NV, 89557-0166
9780874179712, $24.95, 376pp,

Synopsis: The American West is home to some of the best backpacking trips in the world, and within California and Nevada are several outstanding destination trails. Hikers from all over the country, and around the world, travel to this area every season to undertake some of these classic trips of a lifetime and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. "Best Backpacking Trips in California and Nevada" was specifically written to help the accomplished hiker through the entire process of planning a multi-day excursion. The book covers all aspects of the trip, from traveling to the area to successfully fulfilling the dream of backpacking in one of the most beautiful regions in the West. "Best Backpacking Trips in California and Nevada" includes thirteen detailed trail descriptions, along with information on additional resources, governing agencies, and permits and fees. It also provides listings of the nearest airports, outdoor retailers, campgrounds, transportation, and amenities and attractions. Accompanying the specific information on each trip are captivating historical vignettes and entertaining personal essays, enhancing the reader's understanding of the area.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and deftly presented, "Best Backpacking Trips in California and Nevada" is impressively 'user friendly' and an invaluable resource and reference for planning backpacking itineraries throughout California and Nevada. Enhanced with the inclusion of numerous photographs, maps, and trail profiles, "Best Backpacking Trips in California and Nevada" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library instructional reference collections.

Milwaukee Mayhem
Matthew J. Prigge
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53575
9780870207167, $19.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: From murder and matchstick men to all-consuming fires, painted women, and Great Lakes disasters (and the wide-eyed public who could not help but gawk at it all) "Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century" uncovers the little-remembered and rarely told history of the underbelly of a Midwestern metropolis. "Milwaukee Mayhem" offers a new perspective on Milwaukee's early years, forgoing the major historical signposts found in traditional histories and focusing instead on the strange and brutal tales of mystery, vice, murder, and disaster that were born of the city's transformation from lakeside settlement to American metropolis. Milwaukee author and freelance historian Matthew J. Prigge (who is also the host of What Made Milwaukee Famous, a weekly local history segment on WMSE 91.7) presents these stories as they were recounted to the public in the newspapers of the era, using the vivid and often grim language of the times to create an engaging and occasionally chilling narrative of a forgotten Milwaukee.

Critique: A simply fascinating and fully absorbing read from beginning to end, "Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century" is a unique and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Exceptionally well researched, impressively well written, and deftly crafted with the inclusion of occasional black-and-white historical photos, "Milwaukee Mayhem" is highly recommended for both community and academic library American History reference collections in general, and Wisconsin History supplemental studies lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Milwaukee Mayhem" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.69).

First Defense: Anxiety and Instinct for Self Protection
David Hopkins
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594393426, $18.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: We all have a built in defensive weapon system that we rarely use, it's called anxiety. We are taught that anxiety is something to avoid. That emotional experiences such as fear, trepidation, or stress, are contrary to living a happy life. We are also told that in threatening situations, anxiety should be quelled. This is not true. The readers of "First Defense: Anxiety and Instinct for Self Protection" will: realize that a key to success in a threatening situation is to use your anxiety to increase your sensory input with information vital to your survival; and then understand how to manipulate the anxiety of your aggressor, denying him critical information he will need for success. "First Defense" presents three constants that will help you stay safer and reduce your overall risk of being victimized by aggression: How your instincts are the key to making the right decisions for the toughest challenges; Why your anxiety is the link between decision-making and instinct; How to be completely in the moment, so your will can coordinate your anxieties and your instincts into a highly effective decision-making process.

Critique: David Hopkins Jr. is a psychologist with 21 years of experience combining psychological principles relating to violence and psychotherapy with martial arts, self-defense, close protection, and in investigative work against terrorists and criminal elements, including organized crime. In "First Defense: Anxiety and Instinct for Self Protection" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to draw from psychology and psychotherapy, martial arts, security and anti-terror to provide a practical, proven and effective system for enhancing any martial arts or self-defense system. Impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented, "First Defense" will prove to be an instructive and 'reader friendly' study for martial arts students and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the principles and practice of an effective defense for themselves and those for whom they are responsible. Very highly recommended for personal, community, dojo, and academic library Martial Arts reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Cloud Therapy: A Book About Swimming
Jason Weiss
Talisman House Publishers
9781584981169, $16.95, 74pp,

Synopsis: "Cloud Therapy: A Book About Swimming" is best described by its author. "For over twenty-five years I have been going several times a week to swim laps in local pools. That's a lot of time with my head submerged, my thoughts left to wander and percolate. I had long been tempted to write about this intermittent life, almost like a dream state though different, but only gradually did I begin to find the form. A mix of memoir, reflection, metaphysical speculation, social observation, 'Cloud Therapy' seeks to track moments, patterns, relationships, wild thoughts, gathered from my ongoing practice of this curious discipline that is swimming. Where does the mind go in that altered state? How do we incorporate the physical exertion? Is there some dynamic of community at the pool, albeit one composed of stubborn individualists? Is swimming, with its implicitly interior dimension, somehow a more private discipline? And what does it mean to return so faithfully to water, the primordial element, how does that affect our bodies, our being? Numerous angles and points of contemplation occur to me while swimming, and this book explores that other realm, hidden in plain sight." --Jason Weiss

Critique: An inherently fascinating read, "Cloud Therapy: A Book About Swimming" is one of those rare little books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. "Cloud Therapy" is especially recommended to readers who enjoy a unique and thought-provoking read by an author with a poetic master of language and a flair for intellectual engagement with the reader.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation
David Horspool
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620405093, $30.00, 336pp,

Synopsis: The discovery of Richard III's bones under a parking lot in Leicester, England brought renewed interest in this divisive and enigmatic figure in British history. "Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation" is a compelling story both scholars and non-specialist general readers with its strong narrative history that David Horspool delivers in a groundbreaking biography of the king. "Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation" dispassionately examines the legend as well as the man to uncover both what we know of the life of Richard, and the way that his reputation has been formed and re-formed over centuries. But beyond simply his reputation, there is no dispute that the last Plantagenet is a pivotal figure in English history because it was his death signaled the end of the War of the Roses, and, arguably, the end of the medieval period in England. This narrative-driven and insightful biography lays out a view of Richard that is fair to his historical character and to his background in the medieval world. Above all, it is authoritative in its assessment of a king who came to the throne under extraordinary circumstances.

Critique: David Horspool was a Foundation Scholar at Eton and obtained a double first in history from Christ Church Oxford. He is now the history editor of the Times Literary Supplement with strong connections in both academic and literary worlds. With "Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation" he applies his considerable skills as an academic and historian to provide an exceptionally well written, organized and presented biography that is as an informed and informative read as it is inherently fascinating and fully absorbing from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

The Cabin: A North Woods Memoir
Steven D. Fortney
Cable Publishing
14090 East Keinenen Road, Brule, WI 54820
9781934980385, $25.95, 234pp,

Synopsis: "The Cabin: A North Woods Memoir" relates the tales of four men who bought 80 acres of land with some dilapidated buildings in the wilds of northern Wisconsin. Over the years, their vacation getaway evolved from a leaky, falling-down barn to a cabin large enough to comfortably house their growing families. Filled with stories of joy and laughter, tears and sorrow, their unabashed love of nature and desire to fit into a heavily Finnish community while coming to grips with their own personal issues makes "The Cabin: A North Woods Memoir" a book that's hard to put down and impossible to forget.

Critique: Enhanced with illustrations by Richard Fendrick, "The Cabin: A North Woods Memoir" is impressively well written and an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduringly popular and unique addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cabin: A North Woods Memoir" is also available in a paperback edition (9781934980408, $18.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.95)/

Shoot Like Spielberg
Christopher Kenworthy
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932283, $15.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: Christopher Kenworthy worked as a writer, director, and producer for fourteen years. He directed a feature film, along with many music videos and commercial projects. He draws upon his years of experience and expertise in "Shoot Like Spielberg: The Visual Secrets of Action, Wonder and Emotional Adventure" to teach the film making techniques that Spielberg employs to make his audience feel something, whether he's shooting a kids' -adventure, a dramatic chase, or the darkest war scene. The auteur always employs a core set of techniques that make each shot crystal clear and evoke the most intense emotions from the audience. "Shoot Like Spielberg" shows aspiring film makers how, from tension to tear-jerker, to make their film scenes memorable enough to be talked about for years to come. Spielberg directs films that cover everything from childhood dreams to the horrors of war. He always hones in on the emotional center of a scene. "Shoot Like Spielberg" unravels the secrets of his core techniques, and shows how you can use the same simple camera moves and setups to make your films full of wonder, thrills, and emotion.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Shoot Like Spielberg: The Visual Secrets of Action, Wonder and Emotional Adventure" is as 'user friendly' an instruction guide as it is informed and informative. Simply stated, "Shoot Like Spielberg" should be a part of every film school and academic library film making reference collections and supplemental studies reading list. A "must" for every aspiring film making, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shoot Like Spielberg" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

The CEO's Secret Weapon
Jan Jones
Palgrave Macmillan
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001
9781137444233, $35.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: Do corporate executives really need an executive assistants? in "The CEO's Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness" author Jan Jones (founder and president of Jan Jones Worldwide, a bespoke speakers bureau) draws upon her many years of experience and expertise as an executive assistant to answer that question in the affirmative. Executives often fail to capitalize on the immense resource sitting right outside their office in the person of an exceptional executive assistant. That solutions-oriented individual who adds value by enhancing the executive's productivity, elevating their performance and functioning as their indispensable business partner and 'right arm'. "The CEO's Secret Weapon" provides not only the inspiration to achieve a successful business partnership, but also the know-how and the practical tools to recruit, train and work on a day-to-day basis with an exceptional assistant, showing corporate executives and business managers how to put their exemplary talents to good use. Part 1 explores the relationships between successful executives and their assistants and defines what an 'exceptional executive assistant' is. In Part 2, Jones describes the crucial characteristics that all exceptional executive assistants epitomize, and how they are critical to not only your day-to-day routine, but to your success as an executive or entrepreneur. Part 3 of this book will explore the processes, resources and skills that you will need to hire an exceptional assistant. Part 4 takes a deeper dive into the executive and assistant relationship and offers a guide to setting up a successful partnership. As with any business collaboration, it is a two-way street. In order to solidify the partnership, the executive must reciprocate. With examples throughout from successful CEOs and entrepreneurs, "The CEO's Secret Weapon" will help you create a robust, dynamic and productive partnership with your executive assistant.

Critique: Impressively well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "The CEO's Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness" will prove to be of enormous value and interest to anyone contemplating the engagement of an executive assistant, or who already has one and would like to maximize the value of that executive assistant to themselves and to their company. Very highly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library Business Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The CEO's Secret Weapon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Jewish Hit Squad
Simon Lavee
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652296085, $24.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: The personality of Simon Lavee's father, Mundek Lukawiecki, was shaped by his struggle to survive, and his soul was tortured because he could have tried to save his family, but he did not. But there were ways to avenge their deaths. As a partisan and member of the UB, he followed his drive to pay back the Nazis and their collaborators. "Jewish Hit Squad: Armja Krajowa Jewish Raid Unit Partisans" is about a small band of fighters who not only tried to survive German brutality during WWII, but actively fought back against the Nazis. Author Simon Lavee tells how his father led a Jewish partisan group in the forests of southern Galicia. They operated under the umbrella of the Polish underground movement the Armia Krajowa (AK). Mundek's group was an AK hit squad that assassinated German soldiers, as well as Polish and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. The group also sabotaged Nazi operations and attacked strategic German targets such as fuel trains and military installations. At the end of the war, Mundek enlisted in the Polish Communist Secret Police (UB), where he continued to exact revenge on Nazi collaborators. In 1946, after the UB discovered that Mundek was simultaneously supporting the Israeli underground Etzel in Palestine by sending them Jewish fighters, he was forced to flee Poland. He arrived in Israel in 1948.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Jewish Hit Squad: Armja Krajowa Jewish Raid Unit Partisans" is more than just another World War II biography, it is a critically important contribution to our understanding of the partisan movement in Nazi occupied territory. Enhanced with occasional black-and-white historical photos, "Jewish Hit Squad" will prove to be of immense value and interest to academic library World War II History, 20th Century Judaic History, and Contemporary Judaic Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jewish Hit Squad" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Jutaku: Japanese Houses
Naomi Pollock
Phaidon Press
65 Bleecker Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10012
9780714869629, $24.95, 512pp,

Synopsis: Japan's contemporary culture is constantly in flux. In stark contrast to the centuries old imperial architecture of Kyoto, recent Japanese architectural practices have ushered in an era of continuous experimentation. With 400 houses, one house per page, one image per house, Jutaku: Japanese Houses by Naomi Pollock (an American architect who lives in Tokyo where she writes about design in Japan.) is a fast-paced, "quick hit" shock to the system that shines a Harajuku-bright neon light on the sheer volume, variety and novelty of contemporary Japanese residential architecture. Featuring the work of many of Japan's most famous architects including Shigeru Ban, Sou Fujimoto, Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma, Jun Igarishi, Shuhei Endo and dozens of up and coming and completely unknown young architects, Jutaku is organized geographically taking readers on a bullet train journey across Japan's architectural landscape.

Critique: A unique and inherently fascinating introduction to contemporary Japanese architecture each featured building photo is captioned with its location, floor area, and site area. It is no understatement to say that "Jutaku: Japanese Houses" is essential reading for architects, designers and fans of contemporary Japanese culture. "Jutakur: Japanese Houses" is certain to be a critically important addition to academic library Contemporary Architecture and Contemporary Japanese Culture reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Political Economy of Status
Theodore Koutsobinas
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781783477449, $125.00, 264pp,

Synopsis: In "The Political Economy of Status: Superstars, Markets and Culture Change", Professor Theodore Koutsobinas (University of Patras, Greece) deftly explores the system of status markets and their social effects including inequality. He explains how media fascination with superstars and luxury consumption goods amplify positional concerns for all, distort the aspirations of the middle class and cause relative deprivation. Building on themes first identified by Veblen and Galbraith, Professor Koutsobinas analyses extensively the behavioral evidence from modern interdisciplinary research and contributes constructively to a new genre of economic analysis. "The Political Economy of Status" reveals the necessity to seriously consider redistributive culture change policies targeted to assist the underprivileged and is a valuable resource for academics in various fields including economic theory, political economy, sociology, social psychology and cultural studies.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Political Economy of Status: Superstars, Markets and Culture Change" is enhanced with the inclusion of a five page Appendix of Table and Figures, seventeen pages of Notes; thirty pages of References; and a twenty-five page index. A solid work of seminal scholarship, "The Political Economic of Status" is a strongly recommended addition to professional, governmental, and academic library Economics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Breguet: Art and Innovation In Watchmaking
Emmanuel Breguet & Martin Chapman
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
c/o Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791354675, $39.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: Beautifully and profusely illustrated, "Breguet: Art and Innovation In Watchmaking" is a truly dazzling exploration of the work of renowned horologist Breguet is also a fascinating look at what makes watches and other timepieces tick. Abraham-Louis Breguet invented many of the standard components of today's most prestigious watches, earning the title "The Father of Modern Horology." The self-winding watch, the gong spring, the first shock-protection device, and the enameled dial--all were created by Breguet. In addition, he invented the first travel clock, sold to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798, and the first wristwatch, delivered to Caroline Murat, queen of Naples in 1812. Perhaps Breguet's most famous timepiece is the "Marie-Antoinette" pocket watch, which took forty years to make and was the most complex watch of its time. This fascinating, elegantly designed volume features more than seventy watches and clocks that were constructed by the Breguet company, and it contains many insights into the inner workings that made these objects so innovative and valuable. Engaging essays explore Breguet's personal history, the technologies he perfected, and his vast international reputation which survives to this day. "Breguet: Art and Innovation In Watchmaking" offers a beautiful overview of Breguet's achievements will speak to anyone who treasures their watch whether as an indispensable daily accessory, or as a prized piece of jewelry.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is impressively well organized and presented, "Breguet: Art and Innovation In Watchmaking" is an inherently fascinating read and one that will be of immense interest to watch making enthusiasts and collectors. A simply gorgeous coffee-table book, "Breguet: Art and Innovation In Watchmaking" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections. Indeed, "Breguet: Art and Innovation In Watchmaking" would be an especially appropriate selection as a library Memorial Gift Fund acquisition.

Michael J. Carson

Chutsky's Booskhelf

The Outsider: My Life In Intrigue
Frederick Forsyth
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399176074, $28.00, Hardcover, Page Count 332

The manner in which a man recounts his life story reveals much about the man.

Frederick Forsyth's autobiography THE OUTSIDER: MY LIFE OF INTRIGUE is written in the same style I suspect his Foreign Correspondent reporting was done - tell it as he experienced it and let the world make its own conclusions - told as an "Outsider" from the inside.

When he started out - he just wanted to see the world, in his words best expressed by the song, "Moon to see the world...there such a lot of world to see..." And he saw being a Foreign Correspondent as the ticket to that. But he didn't JUST see the world- he became a witness to "news events that broke like nuclear explosions."

In his book - He skims fluidly through the poignant world events he was privy to during the 1960's and beyond during his Reuters/ BBC reporting years and some during his undercover operations for the "Firm", though in reality each is significant enough to fill a historical reference book or provide adequate meat for a dozen lengthy thriller novels....which of course many of them did become, a crop of bestselling novels (even the titles '"filched" from the real stuff that went on) including:

The assignation attempt on Charles de Gaulle while Forsyth was at the Paris Bureau (DAY OF THE JACKAL). The cat and mouse games played with the Russians in Communist East Germany while it was literally an island cut off from the outside world encircled in a cement moat (ODESSA FILE). The ever simmering pot of rancid stew of the Middle-east conflicts, and mostly Britain's part in the Nigerian War (DOG DAYS OF WAR), an episode in his life that obviously left a wound with enough scar-tissue of guilt in his English soul to devote a quarter of the book to it though he did literally risk his life ("The Nigerians had been kind enough to put a price on my head, rumored at 5,000 naira...And the terms were dead or alive, so survival seemed unlikely) and put a "gun to the head" of his career by sticking to his scruples of telling the truth, not the official line of the British Government, of what was going on in an effort to try and effect some change in the brutal course of events.

And he wraps each episode via the last paragraph of each chapter in a poignant bow of ironic humor and heart.

A very enjoyable book- "not a life story" as he stated in the preface but a fast train ride through Forsyth's world of adventure with a man who seemed to possess the nine lives of a wily cat and who's "old luck seemed to hold" whenever he most needed it, leaving you hungry to read the score of novels he penned over the course of his life. Well Done.


A Book Reviewer is faced with the dichotomy of how personal to get in a faux-pas of passing into the too much information realm, so I've decided to separate my very personal notes on the book.

To read a book is to take a journey...on this one I had an enthusiastic hitchhiker-My Husband a fellow author and creative "Outsider" (a Novelist/Screenwriter/Film Producer/Director/Network Game Show Creator to be exact).

First I have to thank Frederick Forsyth for the wonderful preface with his insightful personal encapsulation-or attempt at explaining to those who are not of that ilk- of the "creative spirit."

That's what drew my husband in, after I insisted, "you've got to hear this, he's just like you," as I proceeded to read aloud the 6 page PREFACE of Forsyth's autobiography. My husband was silent. Then his reaction, "Wow. I want a copy of that hanging on the wall."

I myself as an artist/writer- related to every syllable of every word of what he wrote after realizing somewhere in my thirties that I was always was a slight step outside – more ensconced in observing the world than sometimes participating in it -and as for my husband, making a piece of cinnamon toast in the morning is a CREATIVE endeavor.)

My husband, is also a kindred spirit in his own love for WWII airplanes, spiffy sports-cars, stunning leggy woman, life's intrigues, lousy sense of handling money, and the processing of it all with a bit of sardonic humor. He was hooked.

Second I have to thank Frederick Forsyth for the delightful eight hours that I spent reading his book aloud to my husband and the light you left in his eyes at the end -"he got to fly a Spitfire." My husband too wanted to be pilot but couldn't distinguish orange from green and has the depth perception of a gnat, but has built numerous scale models of Fokkers - Spitfires-Nieuport's etc., that have made it to radio controlled flight and museums. In simpatico to Forsyth he has that great sense of not missing out on any of life's adventures and also wrecked a sports-car-of the Jaguar type, had affairs with some of the most beautiful woman in the world, been thrown into heightened intrigue more of the New York-Hollywood broadcasting world variety type and having once had a comfortable fortune - ended up at a ripe old age with no money on his plate while needing to take care of his thirty year younger wife figuring the only way to pad the coffers was to start writing some books(and screenplays) as he did and still is....

"It's a man's book," my husband said as I rounded the halfway point. And that caused some envy in this gal who was raised on the model of a ladylike Audrey Hepburn. How I envy the male Foreign Correspondent, being able to hang out with a hoard of reporters in a smoky London bar, pile into a squatty apartment in a foreign city so I could be on the doorstep of some of the most dramatic episodes taking place in Europe or race across east Germany on an assignment worthy of an espionage film thriller.

"English boys seem to have more interesting youths than American boys," was my conclusion to the chapters of Forsyth's youth.

To that comment my husband replied, "It's because they can see the world of adventures beckoning from across the water and they've got to experience them."

At least through Frederick Forsyth I got to feel as if I lived a few of them too.

The Life of Ian Fleming
John Pearson
G.P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York New York 10014
9780399176074, $28.00, Hardcover, Page Count 332

Only after living vicariously in his mind as 007 Bond for over twenty years, and threatening for most of his life to write the "Spy novel to end all spy novels," did Ian Fleming-the man with the "GOLDEN TYPEWRITER" - finally write a series of spy novels to end all spy novels.

Fascinating people live fascinating lives-sometimes on a scale that is grander than real life seems possible. The life of Ian Fleming is of this sort.

He was a panache man, of-the-manor-born, an eccentric womanizer who was a bit obsessed with danger, espionage, sex, gambling, fast cars, trains, planes, and the underbelly of the world. He possessed the unusual mix of flamboyant imagination and hard practicality that helped him charm his way into the worlds of high level governments, foreign reporting, banking, publishing and ultimately motion picture making.

In the hands of the English author John Pearson, a fellow Brit and close acquaintance of Fleming, the biography of this "oddly English character" is meticulously told in detail with the quintessential English flair for the delicious use of THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE that only English writers possess. I find his writing to be eloquently poetic in spinning Fleming's life much as one would weave a novel of intrigue.

It was written only after interviewing hundreds of his friends and colleagues, and rummaging through thousands of documents and letters, showing Pearson had the patience for noticing, recording and eloquently piecing together the massive tangled nuggets and sticky wicket episodes that made up Fleming's colorful life.

And many of those nuggets show up in the plots, details, people and places of his later in life penned 007 Bond Novels. There was a fascinating line that divided his real life from the fantasy life of one whom lived vicariously in his mind as a 007 secret agent - licensed to kill.

Here are a few of the bits and pieces of that life:

From the start Fleming's wealthy English Aristocratic banking ancestry was a bit of weight, as well as his taking a backseat to his brother's star place in his mother's eye, which seemed to set him up early on as quite a pessimist who saw any setback as confirmation that the whole of the world was against him.

He was a well-educated Englishman, fascinated with the writings of Freud, Adler and Kafka, whose studies took him to Germany, Switzerland and France, a young man-of- the-world who by age 21 fluently spoke three languages other than a brilliantly well-oiled King's English, who became thoroughly marinated in the distinctly European world of intellect and sophisticated indulgences such as languorous time skiing in Kitzbuhel, racing sport-cars along winding mountain German roads, gambling in elegant casinos from Portugal to Monte Carlo, while self-indulgently entertaining himself with casual affairs – gads of which he fell into as easily as one falls out of bed in the morning.

Throughout his life Fleming was always strong willed in his reactions against the ordered and comfortable, though exposed at an early age to political figures through his well-connected family (the likes of Winston Churchill at shooting parties at his father's estate), many of whom he would thumb his out of joint nose at because of their assumed nobility. In his own eyes he felt he should be treated as royalty.

"Half of his friends and acquaintances saw him as the charmer - a dandy - a born actor, the other half a neurotic man who lived a life of imagination and fantasy to sidestep the demands of reality."

And perhaps that is why James Bond 007 was born - as that altered ego/reality - escape valve from the real world that always seemed to disappoint him, best expressed by Pearson this way: "Fleming lived the only sort of life he could endure or could endure him" all on the grandest scale.

Where the traditional practical qualities of a proper Englishman would fail him he found success by the unleashing of his innate creativity by taking real and contrived situations and making life fit into them. With his eccentric ways and flamboyant personality he could always manage to charm the influential and the powerful (of which he amassed an army of allies from politics -to publishing -to banking -to the secret service-even to underworld) into doing what he needed or wanted.

As a Foreign correspondent for Rueters, those unusual attributes paid off. He showed he had different qualities than the other reporters. He had his own sense of scruples, or non-scruples. In his first assignment he witnessed the Russian Government machine up close and personal (sound familiar- FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) and turned it into one of his own plot lines in his reporting. His theatrical dispatches were always a hit back home-exactly the dramas readers in England wanted to hear, but they were sensationalized news not necessarily accurately detailed.

During his broker-banker years which totaled around twelve, "he gave the impression of being a playboy businessman...his appearance was so absolutely correct he made one think he was someone out of a Wodehouse novel." He had a romantic vision of money which wasn't realistic, and just having some of it was never enough for him no matter how comfortable he was (sound familiar- GOLDFINGER).

That skewed vision of finances gave him a fondness for Gambling and he spent chunks of time playing Baccarat at Casino's across Europe (sound Familiar-CASINO ROYALE), including a stint in Deauville where he observed a Greek Syndicate of wealthy Greek financiers at mischief and play (sound familiar-FOR YOUR EYES ONLY).

During WWII as a lieutenant for British Naval Intelligence he put his deep imagination to work in an effort to defeat the Germans. His youthful fantasies of machine guns hidden in exhaust pipes of sports cars, brave battles with enemy agents, convenient items that became lethal weapons such as a pen that shoots teargas (sound familiar-Q's arsenal of gadgets) were coming of use during his time with NID.

Some of his schemes were too fantastical to be taken seriously but were delivered with enough panache to make the higher ups actually consider them. In his naval appointment he felt he had found where he belonged, reporting along "Whitehall's rabbit run of power." During the war he was described as "terribly grand, hanging around the Dorchester- a gilded bird cage of the rich and powerful."

After the war passing into his thirties-he organized a foreign news service for Lord Kemsley's chain of provincial newspapers and most importantly during this time, having being given a steady income and a month off a year, he finally found his nirvana at an exotic retreat he had built in Jamaica. (sound familiar - DR. NO) For a man who was never really totally happy- he was happiest in this Jules Verne world he created and had read about as a child.

Through it all he kept threatening to write 'the spy novel to end all spy novels." So, after rounding the corner of forty, he first seriously contemplated writing, wanting the respectability and sense of acceptance which the intellectual establishment in England carried on with. But the Fleming novels did not come to fruition yet.

Not until many years later, when he married Anne Rothermere in 1952 at the age of forty three, and was left with oodles of idle time on his hands at his Jamaican retreat (Goldeneye)while his wife gardened and painted and entertained, and he was bored to tears, was "007 Bond" given a life on paper.

He procured a golden typewriter and with an ignited spirit he hammered out CASINO ROYALE. In only eight weeks to be exact, the original manuscript was completed. After years of living fantasies in his head he finally lived them by writing them down.

Casino Royal was the first novel (considered by Noel Coward to be his best) of what would become a harvest of one a year to come for the rest of his short life. He found he approached his writing in the same manner as he had becoming an athlete in his Etonian youth, "with a burst of furious adolescent energy.... accomplishing the unexpected in a sudden spasm of activity."

It is interesting to note Fleming only began writing down the escapades of the spy BOND that had been floating around in his mind for dozens of years, after he had settled down with the one real love of his life, his wife Anne, in whom he found both rich companionship and an undercurrent of passion. I firmly believe without her and that somewhat sense of peace-if he ever really attained that totally- led to him finally fulfilling his dream of "writing the spy story to end all spy stories" or rather a dozen of them.

Fleming's tumultuous attitude towards women is summed up best in a paragraph he wrote towards the end of CASINO ROYALE:

"With most woman his manner was a mixture of taciturnity and passion. The lengthy approaches to a seduction bored him almost as much as the subsequent mess of disentanglement. He found something grisly in the inevitable pattern of each affair. The conventional parabola-sentiment, the touch of the hand, the kiss, the passionate kiss, the feel of the body, the climax in bed, then more bed, then less bed, then the boredom, the tears and the final bitterness-was to him shameful and hypocritical. ...then the furtive alibis and the final angry farewell on some doorstep in the rain. But with VESPER there could be none of this."

Just substitute his wife "Anne" for Vesper.

Casino Royale was only a modest success in England and didn't bring Fleming the monies he so wanted. He needed a steady income to sustain his high-brow lifestyle so he continued working for Kelmsley House- running their Foreign News Bureau and writing pieces for the Sunday Times on current topics.

Though disappointing, the humble success Casino Royale was enough to spur him on to more Bond adventures. But he decided in order to keep the novels fresh -he had to keep up his own vicarious BOND adventures, so from there on he would: embark on forays with the likes of Jacque Cousteau (sound familiar - LIVE AND LET DIE) and many famed archeologists, attend foreign conferences of Interpol including in exotic locations such as Istanbul (sound familiar - FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE), delve into the world of Diamonds and Diamond smuggling with a friend who worked at De Beers (sound familiar - DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER), spend time in the Casinos of Monaco exercising his baccarat skills against notorious mobsters of the European underbelly, pick the brain of a Gold experts (sound familiar - GOLDFINGER) at a Spa in a Victorian mansion as well as experience the unique health regimes they prescribed ( sound familiar - THUNDERBALL), explore the island of Inagua with an Ornithologist (sound familiar - DR.NO), pass time with a former head of MI5, jet-set to the world of Hong Kong and the Far-east (sound familiar YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE) and the list goes on.

He had settled into a comfortable pattern of spending the spring and summer in residence in London and his coastal retreat near Dover, and the fall when the opportunity arose on exotic jaunts- finding fresh material for each successive book, then spending the two winter months of January and February smashing out a new novel at his golden typewriter at his cherished retreat he named - GOLDENEYE - (sound familiar) in Jamaica.

In his writing he found a world that never let him down. Though the real world was still presenting thorns in his side.

After the first few books were published, along with the financial disappointment of what they accrued, he also suffered slings and arrows from the literary elites while he himself had a growing suspicion he might be making a fool of himself with his fantasy spy-world of Bond. In short he wanted to be taken as a serious writer, so he put his efforts into penning numerous serious articles for the Sunday Times. But ultimately the world of JAMES BOND called him back and after a brief respite, he returned to his "spy-world" with renewed vigor and a new angle. He figured the big monies would ultimately come from film rights so he increasingly wrote with this in mind.

By the time he rounded 50, he was feeling the effects of an over-indulgent life taking-a-tole on his health, a potent bitter pill to swallow. And though he marked himself as having to cater to the effects of being an old man he did nothing of the sort, he kept on living his indulgent philosophy. In his own words, he saw "life as rather Mud and Cream" and he was paying "the price a man pays for a full life," including smoking hoards of cigarettes a day and swilling in more gin-champagne-martinis than Bond ever did in his books.

Suffering the slights of ill health did make him realize "that time begins to be important so one must be inclined to say yes to everything." Which he did.

Finally at the crossroads of making money off his Bond creation after eight years of writing, he began entertaining offers of mass marketing his novels in paperback, though in his mind there was the ever present drawback, if he succumbed to the offers they might reduce his novels to a "cartoon strip character". Though somewhat with his nose in the air, for he saw that populace as being the "B" class of readers he had so vehemently shunned early on-he did succumb. Sales of the paperback versions of his novels hit gold.

It was in the closing chapter of the book and his life, Fleming died at 55, that the autobiographer Pearson writes about the film world sniffing at Fleming's heels. He embarked on a rollercoaster ride with a young English Film Director and a handful of producers to bring THUNDERBALL to the big screen. Fleming found he was uneasy with the film world and found the showbiz world to be "ghastly."

After two years of script rewriting and the dramas of a slew million-dollar backers rising and retreating, his relations with the film makers unfortunately spiraled into a Hollywood soap -opera and a court case (over THUNDERBALL) which Fleming was still fighting for years. The lawsuit rumbled on even while the white knight producers - Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli-rode in and picked up the ball of converting his books to film - (1962) by optioning most of the books. DR. NO - the first Bond film to hit the big screen – though it's place in line was as Fleming's sixth novel. I know from a friend of Saltzman, he had chosen that one because it was the least expensive to shoot- 90% on an island. Plus they couldn't touch Casino Royale-which Fleming had sold the rights away for, for a song - 6,000 pounds I believe - early on- not anticipating the huge success of the whole series, with no percentage cut of the Producer's profits.

Sadly in the end the big success and big monies only came to fruition in the last year of his life.

Pearson's Fleming/Bond biography is a fascinating read though sometimes unsettling. Pearson molds the flesh over the spine of the English breed of rich whose dreams are allowed to be even more fantastical than the fantastical life they lead, sometimes as rich as caviar, sometimes as pungent as a dry martini. It needs to be digested slowly in spurts for just when you think you have had enough of the embroidery of Ian Fleming's over the top self-indulgent somewhat-narcissistic yet charmed world, you turn a corner to a new chapter in his life and find that experiencing the "mud and cream" of it all is as exciting and intriguing as any of his Bond novels.

Ian Fleming
Avenel Books
c/o Crown Publishers, inc.
225 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
0517653524, $35.00, Hardcover, Page Count-715

Action! Action! Action! An intriguing man jumps from a plane, down to an exotic location thousands of feet below. His parachute opens. Then halfway to the ground it turns into a hang-glider- that turns into a motor scooter upon hitting the turf. The chase is on. Bullets are flying. City streets are wrecked. Scores of people are obliterated. Music floods over the scene...Dummdeleeedum...dum dum dum..dumdeleedummm...Until that charming specimen of a male spy, shaken not stirred ends up somewhere chic, looking panache, having an even chic-er cocktail no worse for wear.

Such is the opening of a 007-BOND movie.

But not the 007-Bond Books. The egg from which the movies series hatched.

In other words without Ian Fleming, Hollywood (or more correct the producers which at the moment were outcasts from the golden way setting up shop in England- Saltzman and Broccoli-and the brilliant screenwriter Mankiewicz) wouldn't have had the 007-Bond they loved (and was so successfully splashed across screens worldwide for years to come) and we-the audience- wouldn't have the 007-Bond we love so much.

Or it would be a somewhat different Bond if one reads the pile of novels Ian Fleming wrote in a span of only twelve years of his life.

On the whole the Bond movies are 70% action, while Ian Fleming's series of books hover in the 10% range, more on the order of 007-JAMES BOND strong arming his dark-side nemesis by actual arm twisting and wrestling rather than by flouting some exotic weapon that creates an explosion strong enough to take out the likes of Hong Kong.

The differences between the movies and the books are vast yet very complimentary. The books offer the details-details-details of the storyline as well as characters that the simplistic campy films never convey, details Fleming actually derived from real life experiences and research: including a volumes worth of psychological interplay probably filtered from his indulgent reading of Freud-Kafka-Jung among others, a sea of minutia of the creepy subversive types- some so creepy you'll squirm in your seat-that actually encountered as an agent for British NID/foreign correspondent as well as through his honed contacts in the British Government/Russian underground/American government-FBI etc.

The diabolical plots were developed in Fleming's mind, by the almost split personality, through the course of his own life. So most of the novels are somewhat autobiographical of what Fleming imagined his life should be simultaneously going on alongside the real life he was actually living.

The books are also paced differently than the films, more of a slow burning lethargic-rather English (a pared down Bronte)-way of telling a story.

On paper 007 Bond seems to be perpetually flying through a lot more exotic airports and train stations than busting out of barns with contraptions tied to his back or whizzing through the far-east on a motorcycle while wrecking all of Shanghai.

If the films were made directly from the books, I believe in the hands of a more Realistic Drama oriented Director on the order of a John Schlesinger (MARATHON MAN) or a Francis Ford Coppola (GODFATHER), the resulting films would have been in the camp of serious espionage thriller genre.

The storylines are a bit convoluted in both the books and films but just take it for granted that Bond is battling some version of SMERSH.

Personally, I must have watched the 007 BOND film re-runs on TV at least once a year for over 45 years, (not to mention a few releases at Radio City in New York City when they actually showed movies and had the Rockets stage show for $3.50)...and that's a lot. They have become comfortable almost mindless entertainment that's pleasurable to watch or half-watch for a myriad of reasons; great cinematography, stunning locations, (ie the Greek isles, the Italian Dolomites of Cortina D'Impezzio, Jamaica etc.) and oh the charming Roger Moore or Sean Connery are certainly an attraction for the gals- the Bond Beauties for the guys (ah...that must be the reason-for the half naked Gypsies in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE).

I couldn't wait to dive into the books after so many years of watching the films. But at first I was disappointed, I was expecting the simple charms and punch of the films, the smooth intertwined package of action and Joi-de-vivre. But now after reading five of the books I am disappointed in the films. They are not a complete package and have silly-ized the richness of what Fleming penned.

The books are a different animal altogether. They're English literature after-all. And only someone.... quintessentially English with their innate attention to the minutest details of decorative interiors and subtlest inflections of gestures and demeanors, and someone who had lived through a world war serving in British intelligence/ through the major world political events as a Rueter's Foreign Correspondent etc, and someone whose early life was indulgent to EXCESS in Casino Gambling, fast sports-cars and gads of womanizing, who had done scrupulous research to a tee of accuracy gained on jaunts around the world that included partaking in archaeological digs, adventures with Jacque Cousteau, Interpol conferences, clandestine meetings with underworld Diamond smugglers etc., all carefully noted in his little blue notebooks....could have created such man as 007 James Bond.

I think it does matter what order you read them...So- simply here is my recommendation:

(If you are a diehard fan of the earlier films...go right to DR. NO...the only one closest to the slick charming films.)

CASINO ROYALE- The first one he wrote at the age of 43, after threatening to write the greatest spy novel to end all spy novels for twenty years and having embroidered the plots jokingly into entertaining stories to his friends throughout those years.
It is very European, smothered in caviar, drowning in Baccarat in Monte Carlo, swilling in Champagne all to a scratchy record of "La Vie En Rose."

Towards the end of CASINO ROYALE he reveals his most intimate view of woman, and most importantly the relationship Bond had with Vesper gives hints of the true love and admiration Fleming had for his own wife, the one woman he found both companionship and passion with.

Dr. NO in fact is the stand out that reads as a more Hollywood-ized /Americanized package which was his intent at the time he wrote it. It was his sixth book- and he was in the mindset of packaging his stories for film for as he saw it-that was the only route to attain some financial riches for all his writing efforts.

So it is simply simpler with a well-paced clear storyline oozing with Bond's charming chatter. (It feels as if a good editor got his hands on it but I have found no evidence of that.)

Both of these novels offer the most background on "M"(in the mahogany-ized to the hilt office over-looking rain soaked London)and the British Secret Service that employs him and those rotten Russians of SMERSH which helps one follow the other books better as well as dialogue that oozes with the unique soup of his unique characters- especially the easy going panache yet lethal 007 Bond-properly dressed for each occasion-downing globs of caviar and champagne while sniffing around to uncover the diabolical plots that for some reason no one else sees ( even though oodles of people go out to Dr. No's island and never return).

THE myriad of films made based on the novels do have many scenes from the books but they're mixed and matched, being craftily rearranged and interchanged by a number of Hollywood-ized screenwriters each giving it their bent, jam packed with sexier people, more staged stunning locals( like the back streets of Venice rather than multiple floors of a dour KGB Communist era building) and mind numbing action sequences.

Sean Connery and Roger Moore, certainly projected the good looks and charm Fleming saw in himself/Bond, replete with the shaken not stirred cliche/ though Fleming's real Bond was more of a gin and tonic -with a slice of lemon- kind of guy.

If you are fascinated with the underworld of the Diamond Trade and race horses and the mob-take a shot at DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER next. Only Fleming can somehow give the mobsters of Vegas and New York a thoroughly English scrubbing so that they take a thoroughly European Bronte flare.

Read the rest of his series as you see fit:

They say MOONRAKER is the most autobiographical. If you want to be immersed in those subversive Russians-FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. (note- One of the great things about the written word when crafted well is a chance for a reader to 'get into the character's heads'. So if you enjoy knowing how Colonel Klebb became Colonel Klebb -the knife in the shoe wielding hair on her upper lip, coke bottled eye-glassed woman –this is your ticket.)

Or if you love the card game of bridge and are infatuated with that expensive shiny yellow metal-GOLDFINGER- is the one. Fleming actually spent time with a Gold dealer at a spa in an old English manner (sound familiar) picking his brain during steam baths and rub downs, the basis for his character GOLDFINGER- a diabolical man infatuated enough with gold to cover people in a thin layer of it, a man to whom having a fortune wasn't enough-he wanted it all. (In some ways a sad reflection of Fleming's own feeling about money, he could never have enough though he never really wanted for anything from his old-English-to-the- manor born life.)

And keep going. All the novels are worth a read. I've even found they've reignited my desire to see the movies.

And do take the journey to learn more about Ian Fleming, the man and the mind that formulated such a unique brand of foreign intrigue. I found his biography fascinating. If you can, get a hold of the oldest one by the English writer-James Pearson, it resonates the thoroughly Englishman's life through the thoroughly Englishman's point of view. Just in the first 30 pages of his biography, in the descriptions of Fleming himself are the shades of his later creation of the 007 Bond series:

"He was a panache good looking young man-good with the ladies of whom he had oodles, gadding about in an English sports-car, strong willed in his reactions against the ordered and comfortable. Half of his friends and acquaintances saw him as the charmer - a dandy - a born actor, the other half - a neurotic man who lived a life of imagination and fantasy to sidestep the demands of reality."

Another dichotomy between the books and the films are the Film Producer's bent on packing in plenty of lusty scenes, Bond is the charming playful Fox in a henhouse. But in the books those scenes are sparse. To Both versions of Bond though, woman were a hobby and very expendable.

A great quote that sums up Ian Flemings vision of 007 Bond and maybe himself as well:

"Bond saw luck as a be softly wooed or brutally ravaged...never pandered to or pursued. But he was honest enough to admit that he accepted the fact, he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck."

And it's a fun jaunt through Bond's Love and Luck in Ian Fleming's collection of 007 Spy Novels.

Karen Chutsky

Clint's Bookshelf

Our Grandchildren Redesigned
Michael Bess
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807052174 $28.95 hc / $15.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Biotechnology is moving fast. In the coming decades, advanced pharmaceuticals, bioelectronics, and genetic interventions will be used not only to heal the sick but to boost human physical and mental performance to unprecedented levels. People will have access to pills that make them stronger and faster, informatic devices will interface seamlessly with the human brain, and epigenetic modification may allow people to reshape their own physical and mental identities at will.

In this important and timely book, prize-winning historian Michael Bess provides a clear, nontechnical overview of cutting-edge biotechnology and paints a vivid portrait of a near-future society in which bioenhancement has become a part of everyday life. He surveys the ethical questions raised by the enhancement enterprise and explores the space for human agency in dealing with the challenges that these technologies will present.

Critique: Rejuvenation therapies that could potentially extend human lifespans to 160 years or more, chemical or bioelectronic cognitive enhancement that could double or triple IQ scores, bioelectronic devices for modulating brain processes including "pleasure centers", so-called "designer babies", and much more are poised to cross the threshhold from science fiction to reality in the near future. Michael Bess offers a sober prediction of how such advances will directly affect human society, and the ethical dilemmas that could result. Our Grandchildren Redesigned is fascinating from cover to cover and near-impossible to put down. Highly recommended!

Mary R. Arno
Koehler Books
210 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781633931817 $24.95 hc
9781633931572 $12.95 sc / $4.99 Kindle

Synopsis: New Orleans, Summer 1965: Nancy Drew, the Beatles, Hurricane Betsy. For four young people, it is a time for sailing lessons, clandestine cigarettes, facts of life, guilty secrets.

Playing girl detectives, Peg and Emmaline hitchhike to the Winn-Dixie, where Emmaline hopes to find her runaway sister. Harry, Emmaline's brother, lurks on the edges of their toxic, disjointed family.

Meanwhile, Mimi catches the measles at her family's summer cottage. Sent home with the family's housekeeper, she gets a taste for grown-up adventure and a glimpse of the compromises and deceit that come with it.

As seasons and years go by, each of the four must come to terms with what happened that summer and what they did - or didn't do. Thanksgiving slowly reveals the adult ugliness festering beneath the summer idylls of childhood.

Critique: Award-winning author and journalist Mary R. Arno has crafted a gripping coming-of-age novel. The cruelties and tribulations of adulthood are starkly presented; Thanksgiving is not for the faint of heart. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, Thanksgiving is a sober reminder that youthful optimism and the dogged pursuit of justice are invaluable human qualities expressly because they have a high cost.

The Citizen's Guide To State-by-State Marijuana Laws
Paul Armentano
3101 Clairmont Road, Suite C, Atlanta, GA 30329
9780794843717 $16.95

Synopsis: Over 25 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana-related offenses since 1965. For over 40 years, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has been the most trusted source for up-to-date information on the marijuana laws and penalties in all 50 states. Now, for the first time, we have compiled this information in one easy-to-read handbook.

Need to know if pot is legal, illegal, or decriminalized in your state? Can your doctor legally recommend medical marijuana for you? With detailed tables and text, this book provides definitive answers to all of your legal questions. It's like having the combined knowledge of NORML's Legal Committee at your fingertips.

Know the law. Know your rights. And stay out of jail.

Critique: The Citizen's Guide To State-by-State Marijuana Laws cannot substitute for the counsel of a trained attorney if one is already entangled in the U.S. justice system. Its greatest value lies in its use for careful preparatory study of the laws of American states, the better to prevent legal misunderstandings, arrests, or worse over medical or recreational marijuana. Each two-page spread details the laws and penalties for marijuana possession, sale/cultivation, the possession of drug paraphernalia, and more. Up-to-date as of 2015, The Citizen's Guide To State-by-State Marijuana Laws is highly recommended, especially for anyone in need of medical marijuana. It should be noted that marijuana use generally remains illegal under American federal law, which supersedes state law; though how stringently federal marijuana law is enforced varies drastically according to the situation.

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

The Plans I Have For You
Amy Parker, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310724100, $16.99,

Amy Parker's August release, The Plans I Have For You is sure to become a favorite of children ages three to seven although the recommended age is 4-8. The rhythmic, rhyming text, enhanced by the whimsical illustrations of Vanessa Brantley-Newton, teach children are unique. Each one created with special talents and abilities according to God's plan and purpose found in Jeremiah 29:11."For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you...plans to give you hope and a future."

Written from God's point-of-view, the jacketed thirty-two page hardcover uses story-in-rhyme to teach about Jesus, the Bible and God's plan for the reader.

"You are my hands and my feet there on Earth. I've given you a purpose - it's been there since birth."

"I've left you instructions - right here in my book. So open it often - and take a good look."

Colorful illustrations mirror a variety of trades, professions and careers such as pilots, builders, chefs, doctors, nurses, artists and musicians who dance across two-page spreads to ignite children's dreams. This Christian themed children's book, The Plans I Have For You is sure to become a family favorite.

Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Archie Preston
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310000884, $16.99,

Thankful, Eileen Spinelli's rhyming picture book, illustrated by Archie Preston introduces youngsters age four to eight to a "lovable pair of siblings." Their story and pictures demonstrate an important spirit of appreciation and gratitude

Memorable couplets and colorful illustrations of gardeners, firemen, dancers and more illustrate their reasons to be grateful, such as the example in the opening rhyme.

"The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes."
"The local reporter for interesting news."

This timeless message of gratitude and appreciation

Goodnight, Manger
Laura Sassi, Illustrated by Jane Chapman
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310745563, $16.99,

Laura Sassi's imaginative story of Christ's first night in the manger, Goodnight Manger reveals the author's passion for singsong story rhymes in the opening lines.

"Stars are twinkling. Babies fed.
Mama says, 'It's time for bed."

However the portrayal of the stable as noisy and chaotic with rejoicing, noisy angels, visiting wisemen, "itchy straw" and a fussy baby Jesus takes away from the Christmas story.

I also didn't care for the illustrations by award-winning artist Jane Chapman. Baby Jesus looks like a five-month old instead of a newborn. Mary is portrayed as frantic, "in a tizzy" and the angels are less than angelic. Because of the overall effect that takes away from the sacred story of Jesus' birth I don't recommend the book. For a YouTube preview click Goodnight Manger.

21 Days of Christmas, Stories that Celebrate God's Greatest Gift
Kathy Ide
Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC
2745 Chicory Road, Racine, WI 53403
9781424550517, $14.99,

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of traditional baking, Christmas shopping, and full holiday schedules to savor the true meaning of Christmas with one or more emotionally engaging devotions Kathy Ide compiled for 21 Days of Christmas. Their story-style format celebrates the season with twenty-one devotions that capture meaningful struggles and situations common to us all.

One of my favorites was "Star Light, Star Bright" from Kathy Ide. Her unusual portrayal of Joseph from a first person perspective added a dimension to Joseph I'd missed in the familiar Christmas story. Her devotion brought into focus what Joseph must have felt at being chosen to be the earthly father to God's own Son.

Then there's Nanette Thorsen-Snipes devotion "Doubting Thomas," about a little girl's faith, the impact of divorce, money problems and the power of prayer. Or Washington State author Jan Cline's devotion "The Box," a story wrapped in surprises, fruit cakes, mysterious presents and the true meaning of gifts. Devotions conclude with a "Life Application" segment and brief author bio.

The purse-sized devotional fits nicely into purse or bag for coffee breaks or other spare minutes with readings that highlight the importance of family, traditions, and celebrations, yet emphasize Jesus is the reason for the season - an attitude often lost in our increasingly secularized society.

Kathy encourages readers who feel moved or blessed by the stories to share their experiences with others at, and read what others have shared. If a more casual setting is preferred, visit to share your thoughts.

I suspect Kathy's new series is destined to become a best seller because of the variety of authors and well-written stories that celebrate God, His grace, His love, and Christ's gift of salvation. This devotion series is designed for readers who already enjoy Christian fiction; however, the books are an excellent gift choice to introduce those who haven't yet discovered the value of Christian fiction.

Future books in this series include 21 Days of Love (January 2016), and 21 Days of Joy (April 2016).

Ruth and Naomi
David Miles, Illustrator
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310746508, $3.99, 2015, 32 Pages, Ages 4-8,

In this level two reader Ruth and Naomi-I Can Read children follow the widow Naomi home to Israel after she lost her sons as well as her husband. She told her widowed daughter-in-laws "do not come with me, stay here with your families." Orpha stayed but Ruth said, "I will go with you. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. "

This classic Bible story portrays values of faith, trust in God, compassion, dedication and love through the rich and vibrant illustrations, large text and simple words and sentences in an easy-to-read format for developing readers.

The ancestral line of Ruth, from Obed, to Jesse, to King David and a "long time later," Jesus teaches children Ruth is a "very-great grandma to the Savior of the World" Bible verses and a brief synopsis of Ruth and Naomi complete the traditional biblical account.

The Good Samaritan (I Can Read! / Adventure Bible)
David Miles, Illustrator
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310746621, $3.99, 2015, 32 Pages, Ages 4-8,

Youngsters learn about the parable of the good Samaritan in this level two Good Samaritan-I Can Read book for developing readers which is about the second grade. The story begins with Jesus teaching the crowds until a man who wanted to test Jesus interrupted to ask Jesus "what he needed to do to ensure "eternal life."

Colorful, life-like illustrations of Jesus, the "smart man" who asked questions, robbers and the Jewish man who was robbed, injured and left "in the dirt at the side of the road" keep pages turning to learn what happens next.

Colorful and humorous caricatures of the priest who crossed the road to avoid the man in the road and the temple helper who stepped over the injured man portray what Jesus meant when He said to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Bible verses from Luke 10:27, 36-37 and a brief summary of who Samaritans were complete this faith-based story.

The Berenstain Bears' Harvest Festival
Mike Berenstain
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310748656, $3.99, 2015, 24 Pages, Ages 4-8,

Mike Berenstain carries on The Berenstain Bears tradition begun by his parents with The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival. The story opens with fun illustrations of Brother, Sister and Honey Bear, laughing, shouting and diving into piles of autumn leaves Papa Bear raked from the yard.

The story's rich and colorful illustrations feature Brother, Sister and Honey Bear anticipating summers end as geese fly overhead and squirrels and chipmunks gather acorns to store for the winter. On their walk to Farmer Ben's to meet "Preacher Brown and all their friends from Chapel in the Woods" they see God's bountiful supply of rich blessings from the harvested fields. Mama Bear is quick to remind her family there's more to what they see around them than Mother Nature at work because she, meaning Mother Nature, "works for someone a bit higher up."

From hayrides to finding perfect pumpkins the story focus is why we need to see and appreciate our blessings and be thankful because all good things come from God. The book ends with questions to discuss and activity suggestions for ages 4-6.

Thanksgiving and Christmas bring thoughts of gifts and there is no better gift to enrich and stir a child's imagination than a book, especially for children learning the joys of reading. In addition to the faith-based books "The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival is a fun read-to-me story for younger children. Their affordable prices make them an excellent gift choice in our financially troubled times.

The Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible for Little Ones, Board Book
Jan & Mike Berenstain
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310749417, $9.99,

The Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible for Little Ones contains eight Old and New Testament stories with charming Berenstain Bears taking the parts of biblical characters.

The large text and colorful illustrations engage and entertain children with simple short-sentence stories of David and Goliath, Creation, Daniel in the lion's den, Jesus' birth, the Samaritan's account, Jesus entering Jerusalem and the resurrection story, "He is risen." While some literary license is taken, such as Daniel petting the lions in the den, the overall stories are biblically accurate.

The padded board book is sturdy enough to withstand wiping down from sticky fingers and strong enough for repeated turning of the pages as the story unfolds, keeping the spine intact.

"The Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible for Little Ones" piques little ones curiosity with simple Bible stories that teach and entertain. This would also fit nicely in a Christmas stocking or under a Christmas tree.

The Sparkle Box: A Gift with the Power to Change Christmas
Jill Hardie, Illustrated by Christine Kornacki
Ideals Children's Books
6100 Tower Circle, Suite 210, Franklin, TN 37067
9780824956479, $19.99,

The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie is an inspirational Christmas story that includes a young boy, a mysterious shiny box with "the power to change Christmas" and a new found family tradition. The tale, inspired by Matthew 25:40 "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these...," has since become a long-standing Christmas practice for the Hardie family.

The Sparkle Box begins with Sam and his mother standing spellbound in front of a lavishly decorated toy store window fascinated by the magnificent display of sparkly lights, Christmas trees, decorations, dolls and beautifully wrapped gifts. When Sam spots a "shiny red engine" on the tracks underneath the Christmas tree his excited grin and joy-filled eyes speak louder than any words about a child's hopes, joys and dreams of Christmas.

Later that night, when Sam and his mom read a Christmas story together, Sam notices a glittery box tied with a lush lavender bow sitting on the mantle above the fireplace next to the Nativity scene of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. It hadn't been there before and he couldn't help asking, " that for me?"

Sam's mother explained the present was "a special gift "she called a "Sparkle Box" and said the present wouldn't be ready to open until Christmas because the "special gift" had yet to be filled. Curious and intrigued, it was all Sam could do to contain his excitement–"it was so hard to wait!"

Thus begins a warm and engaging Christmas themed story that puts the focus on Jesus and acts of kindness instead of materialism and commercialism. Christine Kornacki's enchanting life-like illustrations capture the spirit of Christmas reflected in the family's festive holiday parties and activities. Such as taking food to a food bank or donating blankets to the homeless sleeping on park benches or donating money to an African village "for something as simple as clean water." These and many other acts of kindness embrace what Christmas is all about - loving others as Jesus loves us.

Each turn of the page illustrates generosity, kindness and love for others with an inspirational story that captures the real meaning of Christmas and reminds us all we may be the only "Christ" people who don't know Christ will ever meet or see.

The hardback book includes a glitter-coated, fold-out, easy-to-assemble box inside the back cover for children and families to start their own family tradition. After only one reading The Sparkle Box is sure to become any family's favorite Christmas story.

Thanksgiving and Christmas bring thoughts of Christ and gifts that celebrate the season. This review roundup includes colorful sticker activity books and a toddler's Bible sure to engage, teach and entertain children ages 3-7. To set the mood for the season listen to Graythwaite's Christ the King of Christmas sure to delight all ages.

The Beginner's Bible All About Jesus Sticker and Activity Book
Kelley Pulley
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310746935, $3.99,

The All About Jesus Sticker Book from the creators of the best-selling "Beginner's Bible" series uses sixteen colorful, oversized pages filled with stickers, puzzles and activities to teach about Jesus. While the sticker book briefly mentions Jesus' birth and resurrection the primary focus is the life and ministry of Christ which makes it a wonderful supplement for basic Bible or Sunday school teachings.

Hands on activities include easy word puzzles, mazes, matching pictures to stories, finding hidden objects and coloring pictures in addition to completing pictures with puzzle shaped reusable stickers. Short, paraphrased Bible stories along page bottoms are simple and accurate. The fifty plus re-useable stickers can be used time and time again.

Although recommended for children aged 4-8 some activities are more for early elementary ages and the book is better suited to ages 3-7. The solid biblical teaching and reasonable price make

"The Beginner's Bible All about Jesus Sticker and Activity Book" an attractive choice for Christmas.

The Beginner's Bible Wild About Creation Sticker and Activity Book
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310747055, $3.99,

The Wild About Creation Sticker and Activity Book from creators of "The Beginners Bible" series describe the story of creation in 16 full-color pages. Hands-on activities ignite children's imaginations as they color, trace, connect the dots, follow the mazes and solve word puzzles. Children learn about animals, Adam, Eve and the creation story as they chose the appropriate stickers to complete the biblical pictures. Although the Bible story of creation isn't paraphrased or mentioned the story is easy to follow and supports Bible teachings.

The sticker, activity book is recommended for ages 4-8, however some activities are more suitable for early elementary grades and ages 3-7 is a better fit. Solid biblical teaching and reasonable price make "The Beginner's Bible All About Jesus Sticker and Activity Book" an attractive choice for Christmas.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

The Names of Jesus: Discovering the Person of Jesus Christ Through Scripture
Thomas Hopko
Ancient Faith Publishing
PO Box 748, Chesterton, IN 46304-0748
9781936270415 $22.95

Synopsis: In this book based on his popular podcast series of the same name, the late Fr. Thomas Hopko meditates on over 50 different names and titled used for Jesus in the Bible. Learn what each name uniquely has to tell us about the character of the Son of God, His role in our salvation, and the relationship we can choose to cultivate with Him.

Critique: Eastern Orthodox Christian priest and theologian Thomas Hopko (March 28, 1939 - March 18, 2015), one of the most prominent Orthodox teachers of the twentieth century, gently encourages the reader to gain a better understanding of Jesus Christ, so that he or she may more readily follow Christ's example of love, mercy, and duty to God. Profound and powerful, The Names of Jesus is highly recommended reading for Christians of all denominations.

Winter of Elves
Joanne Vruno
North Star Press of St. Cloud
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0451
9780878398027 $12.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Aly's strength as a guardian grows as she becomes closer to her band of light elves thanks to the lead elves, Agda and Beck. What becomes a challenge to both sisters is keeping Emily's new powers in control so their parents do not discover them. Thankfully, Emily masters controlling her powers right when Aly and their grandmother discover their villages are in danger.

Critique: Book three in the Seasons of Elves series, Winter of Elves will appeal to both young adult and adult connoisseurs of the light fantastic. The wondrous setting of a world of rock elves and dwarves just outside the observation of modern-day humans provides a strong sense of mystery and adventure. Winter of Elves is also a saga about the difficult challenges of balancing duty with the personal responsibilities of everyday family life, and is highly recommended.

Psychoanalytic Aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technology
Mali Mann, editor
Karnac Books
9781780491967, $29.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by psychoanalyst and clinician Mali Mann, "Psychoanalytic Aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technology" significantly contributes in an important way to the psychoanalytic understanding and impact of Assisted Reproductive Technology on a majority of patients who have difficulties starting new families. Recent advances in reproductive technology and the increased use of techniques based upon it have created a need for psychoanalytic thinking and understanding of the psychological implications of assisted reproductive procedures, in-vitro fertilization and other similar procedures. The recent and rapid advances in medical technologies confront us with a mandate in our clinical work to understand their complex impact on women, men, and children. However, attention to the intra-psychic conflicts caused by traumatic experience of the use of such techniques has not been addressed in psychoanalytic literature. The developmental trauma and intra-psychic conflicts of individuals using reproductive technologies are ubiquitous, yet it has been neglected as a topic of special interest in our clinical work. "Psychoanalytic Aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technology" deals with psychic trauma of infertility, the compulsion to repeat through persistent repeated use of assisted reproductive technology, anxiety about motherhood, and finally the lives of children who are born and do not know from where they came. These poignant topics deal with family complexes and the Oedipal circle, repetition compulsion, trials and failures, anxiety related to motherhood, egg and sperm donors, parental identity formation, infertility, trauma, and discussion of a contemporary film depicting the challenging and newly defined family structure.

Critique: A compilation of six informed and informative articles by experts in the field, "Psychoanalytic Aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technology" is an impressive work of scholarship that is recommended for both academia, the professional medical community, and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the psychological ramifications of contemporary assisted reproductive technologies. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Medicine reference collections in general, and Reproductive Technology supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Psychoanalytic Aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technology" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.30).

Oksana Shachko, actor
Alexandra Shevchenko, actor
Alain Margot, director
First Run Features
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036
B00W64YQO4, $24.95, DVD,

Synopsis: FEMEN are known around the world as the topless female activists who fight corrupt and patriarchal political systems. Their weapon of choice is their bodies - which they place front and center in protests around the streets of Kiev, where the group began, and all across Europe. Oksana Shachko is Femen's creative backbone. As a teenager, her fascination with religious painting led her to consider entering a convent, but in the end she used her many talents to create FEMEN and devoted herself to a life of activism. With "I am FEMEN", director Alain Margot paints a portrait of the bewitching and many-faceted Oksana, while also revealing the stories of the brave young women around her who put their bodies on the front line in the fight for justice and equality.

Critique: A Russian and French film with English subtitling, the "I Am FEMEN" DVD features include Multiple Formats, Full Screen, NTSC, Surround Sound, and Widescreen. An inherently fascinating and compelling documentary, "I Am FEMEN" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Simply stated, "I Am FEMEN" is a flawless production that is highly recommended for both community and academic library Social Issues DVD collections. (91 minutes, Color, 5.1 Audio).

Carol Erb
Thomas Noble Books
9780989235792, $17.95, 146pp,

Synopsis: Carol Erb was living the life of her dreams. When her son found a strange matchbook, she discovered her beautiful marriage harbored a painful secret, one that would cost Carol her marriage, home, and security. From the depths of her despair, Carol turned to God and began a miraculous adventure. When you read "Enveloped: From Shattered to Secure: One Woman's Search for Unending Love", you will be inspired to turn every challenge into the hands of your Heavenly Father. Your faith will be increased as you read this amazing story of God's restoration and abiding love. Every Christian woman will find "Enveloped" uplifting and unforgettable.

Critique: Dr. Carol Erb is a champion for women, particularly Christian women who find themselves alone and afraid. She is founder and director of a Christian counseling and marriage coaching center as well as a national speaker and retreat leader for Christian women and couples. Candid, exceptional, inspired and inspiring, "Enveloped: From Shattered to Secure: One Woman's Search for Unending Love" is very highly recommended, memorable, and rewarding reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Enveloped" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The Boston Girl
Anita Diamant
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439199350, $26.00, 336pp,

Synopsis: Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie's intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can't imagine -- a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her "How did you get to be the woman you are today." She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naive girl she was and a wicked sense of humor. Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant's previous novels bestsellers, "The Boston Girl" is a moving portrait of one woman's complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Critique: An impressively and exceptionally well written novel of complexity and detail, "The Boston Girl" is a terrific read and one that holds the reader's rapt attention without fail from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Boston Girl" is also newly available in a paperback edition (9781439199367, $16.00) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Reclaimed: Faith in an Emerging Generation
Denise Janssen
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
9780817017651, $15.99, 136pp,

Synopsis: Almost every congregation finds itself wringing its hands in concern for the so"called missing generation. Written by Denise Janssen (Assistant Professor of Christian Education at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. An ordained American Baptist pastor, Denise has served as pastor of both United Methodist and American Baptist congregations.), "Reclaimed: Faith in an Emerging Generation" offers insights into the question of why many young adults leave the church of their childhood and why some of them return. "Reclaimed" is based on in-depth interviews with young adults who, as teenagers, were highly active in church, as well as involved with youth ministries and camps. "Reclaimed" traces their pathways into active congregational life as emerging and young adults, offering rich descriptions that go beyond surface "level assumptions in an attempt to help today's church leaders understand the journeys taken by formerly church" active youth. "Reclaimed" goes a step further to analyze patterns and commonalities in those journeys, seeking to make considered recommendations based on principles and qualities that have led many of these young adults back into congregational life. "Reclaimed" is an invaluable and insightful resource for congregations seeking to help their own youth through the transition from adolescence to adulthood, as well as for those who hope to welcome other young adults into their midst.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Reclaimed: Faith in an Emerging Generation" is as informed and informative, as it thoughtful and thought-provoking. Truly inspired and inspiring, "Reclaimed" is strongly recommended to the attention of clergy and the lay reader seeking to help those members of their congregations who are lapsing in their involvement with their church communities.

Full of Grace
Claire Noonan
Twenty-Third Publications
1 Montauk Ave #200, New London, CT 06320
9781627850780, $12.95, 128pp,

Synopsis: All mothers carefully watch the developmental milestones throughout that first year of their babies lives; waiting, observing, fretting, sometimes comparing, and always wondering. "Full of Grace: A New Year of Life for Your Baby-And for You!" by Claire Noonan (a mother, a wife, and a practical theologian currently serving as Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Dominican University) is a marvelous book that focuses on these critical markers, and offers reflections, suggestions for spiritual practices, and encouragement for all new moms, whether they are brand new to motherhood or seasoned veterans. Speaking mom-to-mom, Claire Noonan s engaging reflections offer motherly insight, hope, and trust in the God who brings all of us new and eternal life.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring, ""Full of Grace: A New Year of Life for Your Baby-And for You!" is very highly recommended reading, especially for those new to motherhood, as well as all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.

Winning Your Acting Auditions
Larry Silverberg
Smith & Kraus Publishers
177 Lyme Road, Lyme NH 03755-6610
9781575258997, $16.95, 80pp,

Synopsis: "Winning Your Acting Auditions" is comprised of fifty outstanding new audition monologues from Larry Silverberg (an award-winning actor and director, a Master Teacher of Acting, and the most published acting coach in the world). Larry has written these monologues specifically for aspiring young actors. Each one is deeply human, passionate, urgent, surprising, and true to life itself. "Winning Your Acting Auditions" features fifty unique characters who are in the midst of powerful and profoundly meaningful circumstances as the aspiring actor takes his or her auditions all the way! Along with "Winning Your Acting Auditions", the readers will become members of the world s most exciting Online Thespian Club for high school actors and their teachers a club devoted to empowering them to start winning their auditions!

Critique: As 'user friendly' in content, organization and presentation, as it is impressively and deftly written, "Winning Your Acting Auditions" should be considered a "must" for anyone seeking to succeed in auditioning for any kind of theatrical event from highschool and community theatre, to Broadway productions and Hollywood movie roles.

What Do I Eat Now?
Tami A. Ross & Patti B. Geil
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311
9781580405584, $17.95, 136pp,

Synopsis: Any person diagnosed with diabetes has one simple question: What do I eat now? When diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, doctors typically tell their patients to start eating healthy. But what does that mean? If figuring out what to eat seems like taking a test, here's the solution, the American Diabetes Association instructional book, "What Do I Eat Now?: A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes". Written in clear, concise, and down-to-earth language that takes the mystery out of confusing nutrition recommendations, "What Do I Eat Now?" is an indispensable guide can help readers make lasting changes in as little as a month. In only 4 weeks, readers can eat better, improve their diabetes management, and live a healthier lifestyle. With "What Do I Eat Now?", readers will be able to: Start off fast – quickly turn their diet around; Do It Right – learn what to eat and when; Cut to the Chase – follow easy, straightforward advice from diabetes experts; Leave Confusion Behind – learn essential nutrition tips everyday. For those simply looking to be told what to eat, "What Do I Eat Now?" has everything needed to take the guesswork out of healthy meal planning.

Critique: The collaborative work of Patti B. Geil, (who was a dietitian, speaker, and consultant who enjoyed translating the science of nutrition into the art of great eating and has over 30 years of experience in diabetes care and education, as well as being cited as the 2005 Diabetes Educator of the Year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics DCE division) and Tami A. Ross, (a dietitian, spokesperson, and consultant with over 20 years of experience in diabetes education, and was named Diabetes Educator of the Year in 2008 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics DCE division, as well as having been the President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators in 2013), ""What Do I Eat Now?: A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes" is practical, comprehensive, informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization, and presentation. A "must read" for anyone having to deal with diabetes, "What Do I Eat Now?" is a critically important addition to personal, community, and academic library Health & Medicine reference collections in general, and Diabetes Treatment supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The New Social Story Book
Carol Gray
Future Horizons
721 West Abram Street, Arlington, TX 76013
9781941765166, $39.95, 480pp,

Synopsis: Carol Gray is president of The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding in Zeeland, Michigan, a non-profit organization serving people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and those working on their behalf. She is an internationally respected author and speaker with 30 years experience as a teacher and consultant working on behalf of children and adults with ASD. Since the early 90s, Carol Gray's world-famous Social Stories have helped thousands of children with autism spectrum disorders. This 15th Anniversary Edition of "The New Social Story Book: Over 150 Social Stories that Teach Everyday Social Skills to Children and Adults with Autism and their Peers" offers ready-to-use stories that parents and educators have depended on for years, and new sections added are: How to most effectively use and apply the stories; How to improve the lives of younger children; and Social Stories for teens and adults with autism. Developed through years of experience, these strategically written stories explain social situations in ways children and adults with autism understand, while teaching social skills needed for them to be successful at home, school, work, and in the community.

Critique: A classic in the field and thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, organization, and presentation, this newly revised fifteenth edition of "The New Social Story Book: Over 150 Social Stories that Teach Everyday Social Skills to Children and Adults with Autism and their Peers" is enhanced with the inclusion of a CD containing each Social Story as a ready-to-rint PDF file. A core addition to professional, community, and academic library collection, "The New Social Story Book" is strongly recommended as an enduringly useful resource and reference.

Seventy Images of Grace in the Epistles
Norma Cook Everist
Cascade Books
c/o Wipf & Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781625647399, $24.00, 212pp,

Synopsis: How can faith speak directly to people's real lives? How can conversation around Scripture make ''all the difference'' in the arenas of one's daily world? People who have heard the Bible many times (or for the first time) want to know in the terms and images of their life situation. ''When my world seems to be shaking all around me, why doesn't it help to hear 'You are forgiven'?'' And further, ''What can I say to someone who feels totally alienated from God?'' "Seventy Images of Grace in the Epistles: That Make All the Difference in Daily Life" by Norma Cook Everist (Professor of Church and Ministry at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, and a Pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) will help Christians make connections and empower them for their ministries in daily life. "Seventy Images of Grace in the Epistles" presents an interplay of stories of people's actual lives and Epistle images of grace. Readers will begin to recognize the depth of the human predicament and the power of the gospel, thereby becoming equipped for Christian discipleship and vocation, not from duty or guilt, but from freedom. ''Guides for Engagement'' will help readers turn the book into a learning event.

Critique: Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "Seventy Images of Grace in the Epistles: That Make All the Difference in Daily Life" is as informative and compelling a read as it is inspired and inspiring from beginning to end. Especially recommended for church library collections and the personal reading lists of all Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation, it should be noted that ""Seventy Images of Grace in the Epistles" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Splendid Apparel
Anna Zilboorg
XRX Books
P. O. Box 965, Sioux Falls, SD 57101-0965
9781933064307, $28.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: The craft of knitting is devoted to making useful things, and the craft of embroidery is devoted to making useful things beautiful. In "Splendid Apparel: A Handbook of Embroidered Knits", Anna Zilboorg brings these two crafts together. Anna begins with richly textured knit fabrics then adds embroidery for emphasis, color, detail, and sheen. "Splendid Apparel" includes a dozen example embroidery stitches and a library of more than 50 textured knit patterns, and the swatches (photographed by Alexis Xenakis both as they come off the knitting needles and after embroidery is added) and clearly show the transformations and provide springboards for further experimentation. Stitch basics and step-by-step illustrations help a novice learn the simple motions, try variations, and add a contrasting color, while Anna's cogent comments identify where a knit stitch may require special attention and adjustments to make the embroidery steps easier. The 18 full patterns in this book are all basic shapes, including a few with innovative, join-as-you-go construction.

Critique: Profusely illustrated, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Splendid Apparel: A Handbook of Embroidered Knits" is as practical and informative an instruction guide as it is user friendly in both tone and content. An extraordinary 'do-it-yourself' handbook, "Splendid Apparel" is very highly recommended for individual and community library needlecraft project instructional reference collections.

Julie Summers

Karyn's Bookshelf

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
M.T. Anderson, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763668181, $25.99,

The work and life of seminal twentieth-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich is intimately tethered to the jagged course of his country's political upheavals and war, from the twin revolutions of 1917, through the Great Terror of the 1930s, World War II, and the Cold War, in this biographical account masterfully penned at a reading level accessible to young adults, and even astute middle schoolers.

M.T. Anderson, winner of the National Book Award for 2006's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party, traces how Shostakovich's career complexly progressed from his first piano suite, written at age fifteen, to international fame culminating in his seventh symphony, the Leningrad Symphony.

It was completed in December, 1941 after he and his family had fled to Kuibyshev, Russia, 1,800 miles southeast of his hometown of Leningrad. Leningrad, at various points in the composer's lifetime was also called St. Petersburg and Petrograd. Since 1991, it has again been St. Petersburg.

Shostakovich dedicated the symphony to the city of Leningrad, which from September, 1941 to 1944 was blockaded and starved by the German Army, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 1 million residents. Many of those who survived did so by resorting to cannibalism. The symphony's US premiere in July, 1942 raised international awareness of the dire situation, but it was the August, 1942 premier in Leningrad, by the few remaining members of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra that had not succumbed to starvation, that became legendary.

When it was suggested that the work be performed in Leningrad, conductor Karl Eliasburg resolutely brought together the few weak, emaciated instrumentalists that remained. Some of them died of starvation during rehearsals, before the performance could be held.

"There was no one left in Leningrad to play the Leningrad Symphony," Anderson hauntingly writes. "It had always been a city of music, but it had fallen silent. Its best known orchestras had fled before the Germans ringed the city. Only the Leningrad Radio Orchestra remained, and it had shut down in mid-winter. Their last live broadcast had been on New Year's Day, 1942. They'd played excerpts from an opera called The Snow Maiden. Later that night, the opera's tenor had died of hunger. The final note in the orchestral logbook reads: 'Rehearsals did not take place. Srabian is dead. Petrov is sick. Borishev is dead. Orchestra not working.' It went into hibernation as the city starved."

Drawing on diaries, letters, recorded interviews and a wealth of other sources, in addition to surviving archival materials specifically by and about Shostakovich, Anderson paints a vivid, horrifying picture of what happened in Leningrad – the full extent of which Shostakovich, on the run with his family, could mostly only imagine until the full details came out at the war's end.

In an engaging style that clips along and is infused with abundant detail that is not at all hard to follow, the author lays out the wartime history.

But Anderson goes much further, demonstrating a rich understanding of music, and an intense depth of research into how, when, and where Shostakovich worked. Via the juxtaposing of dates, we get a sense of which sections of the Leningrad Symphony Shostakovich was, for instance, working just before his family fled Leningrad by the skin of their teeth in October 1941.

"I kept working day and night. There were times when the anti-aircraft guns were in action and bombs were falling, but I kept working," Shostakovich later said. And which parts he completed later.

Anderson encourages readers to listen to the symphony's different sections, and to think about how the music may mirror what was happening around its writer as he scored it.

Debate continues into the present day about what messages Shostakovich may or may not have purposely embedded into his music. In trying to explain this, Anderson takes on a teacher's voice.

"It is worth pausing for a moment and asking how music speaks ideas," Anderson writes about 100 pages into the 464-page book. He goes on for the next four pages to elucidate on how composers sometimes use not just actual language in the form of things like lyrical choruses, but also changes in key signatures, changes in musical style or speed, and even encoded messages in the form of things like snippets of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes, to get a point across.

The author cautions that trying to interpret what an artist is trying to say in their work is a risky endeavor, particularly in this twentieth-century era of gross lies and deceptions.
Anderson makes it clear that the historical record is not always clear.

Shostakovich's life is one of deep contradiction. Was he a supporter of Stalin's regime or a dissenter? How did he imbed his views into his music – if he did at all? Were the things he said about his work in recorded interviews and in articles and even "memoirs" published internationally actually his views and interpretations – or someone else's? The short answer – maybe both. In this inexplicably volatile era, bending to the iron will of political leaders, including saying what Stalin wanted him to say -- may have been the only way to keep his family alive. There's evidence that not everything actually said to have been written and said by the composer about his work – was.

"Except we don't know if Shostakovich actually meant what he said in this article," Anderson writes. "We don't even know if it was by him. Especially later in his life, the regime would send Shostakovich articles already written and tell him just to sign his name at the bottom."

Anderson walks readers through how twentieth-century Russian musicians like Shostakovich but also writers and other kinds of artists worked in a political explosive environment that at one moment celebrated them, and at the next moment could turn on them unexpectedly, denouncing them for work that didn't bend to the momentary political whims of murderous leaders like Joseph Stalin.

During the Great Terror of the 1930s, after years of his work being celebrated, Shostakovich's work was suddenly condemned as too formalist. He suddenly feared for his life. Other artists deemed similarly in the wrong disappeared around him.

What did it mean that Shostakovich's work was too formalist? Anderson attempts to get to the bottom of that, ultimately with no good answer.

"What was this formalism? It literally means music, art or writing that pays more attention to form and technique than to content," Anderson writes. "This definition seems vague and confusing, but perhaps that was the point. No one knew what it meant, any more than they knew exactly what its opposite, Socialist Realism, meant. They could mean anything."
"Decades later, shortly before Stalin died, someone supposedly asked him what formalism and Socialist Realism actually were. He shrugged and replied 'The Devil alone knows.'"

Symphony for the City of the Dead horrifies and inspires as it teaches in a wonderfully accessible way about complicated twentieth-century music history that can seem as murky and twisted as the political eras it wraps around. M.T. Anderson, an extraordinarily skilled writer, indelibly succeeds in making understandable and engaging, events that defy comprehension.

Just Like I Wanted
Elinoar Keller and Naama Peleg Segal, authors
Aya Gordon-Noy, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854537, $17.00,

A young artist trying to achieve perfection delightfully discovers how to parlay her frustration with mistakes into new and beautiful directions, in this inspiring picture book that celebrates moving on from blunders big and small.

"I want to draw a picture that's perfect in every way," the pig-tailed girl begins. But when she accidentally draws outside the lines, her initial response is devastation. "I think I'll crumple up the page and throw it in the trash," she wails.

But with a little creativity – later repeated many times as other mistakes happen – she reinvents the piano by turning the scribble at its end into a horse's curly tail. In a wonderfully imaginative way, she dreams of traveling on its back through a make-believe country where cupcakes and candy dot the countryside like trees.

When an attempt to draw pockets on the horse to collect some of those sweets goes awry, the girl must make anew again – and she does, remaking the horse into an airplane, with a slightly scribbled left wing.

The story, accompanied by delightfully whimsical illustrations, shows the girl reinventing her drawing several more times, until she ultimately grabs a pair of scissors and clips out her favorite elements, creating a happy collage.

A sweetly written and illustrated story about the perils of trying to be perfect, pressing on in the face of disaster – whether in the concrete form of a ruined picture or metaphorically in a negative, life-changing event – and finding renewal in the process.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Kevin's Bookshelf

Battle Cry 2: Shadow of the Sword
JL Snyder
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center, #302, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
9781634981644, $21.95 HC; $2.99 Kindle
9781634981637, $10.95 PR; 198pp,

Best served cold – A review of the novel 'Battle Cry 2'

"Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old." – George R. R. Martin

Author JL Snyder's novel 'Battle Cry 2' takes forward the narrative of Kai-Ling, an adolescent samurai warrior introduced to the world in the first book Battle Cry. Tragedy struck her life even before she was born when her samurai father was murdered in America. She was then born and brought up in Japan under the watchful eyes of her uncle who imparted warrior's discipline and Katana fighting skills in her. But the fire that grew unabated to seek vengeance on her father's killers was all her own. Having mastered her fighting skills, she goes to America to confront the savages who took her future away from her.

Although subject wise the book treads on heavy and dark themes, the treatment of its narrative is quite light and seems to keep in mind the targeted younger audience. This can be seen across the book, be it in the description of the action scenes and the gore or the language the characters use when they are angry. While the first book was all about Kai-Ling's journey; here she has to deal with the people and truths that she was searching for her whole life. And she has to deal with this confrontation from day one until she finds absolution from her past.

Just like the first book, here too there are only a few characters giving company to Kai-Ling in the narrative. The characters are not only varied in appearance but also realistic in their presentation. But the book truly does belong to Kai-Ling, the pint sized dynamite. She's not a finished product by any means and is someone still learning to keep her emotions in check and perfect her fighting skills. It's her courage, dexterity and an ethical code that she adheres to while fighting that makes her stand apart.

The story in Battle Cry 2 lacks the intensity or purposefulness that we saw in the first book, but it's the strong characterizations that drives the narrative. JL Snyder does well with the action scenes, which are both innovative and imaginative. The description of the place and the environment from a historical perspective too gets a thumbs up. The animations and sketches in the book are simple and evocative.

I would recommend it to readers who enjoy reading about samurais and like anime style plotting and storytelling.

A Widow's Silhouette
Basil Opurum
9780986408403, $15.95, PB, $9.99 Kindle, 324pp,

A Battle for Survival – A review of the novel 'A Widow's Silhouette'

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage." - Seneca

Basil Opurum's novel 'A Widow's Silhouette' is a historical fiction set in Nigeria. Spanning more than three decades, it mainly tells the story of its two protagonists living an extraordinary life amidst trying conditions. John and Jane fall in love and get married but they never get to settle down for long as various civil unrests and difficulties always seem to keep them apart. But their love is such that no force on earth is able to keep them apart for long.

It's set amidst major real developments like the Biafran War, civil and religious riots, and the gradual growth and changes in the Kaduna area and Lagos city in Nigeria. The story here is more like an autobiographical narrative of one woman and several important events from her life; each a dramatic piece; combination of which narrates the tale of an ordinary life lived in extraordinary circumstances. But it's also a heartbreaking and an endearing tale of a couple and their children whose lives are made topsy-turvy by social, political and cultural incidents happening around them. Their lives go from being gentle and well-settled one minute to being on the run for their life amidst absolute chaos and destruction.

A lot of research and observation seems to have gone into the book's preparation. This can be evidenced in its mentioning of the intricate details of various local traditions. You really get a feel of the people's food habits, their transportation woes, their trade and businesses, and religious beliefs. The book offers a good vantage view into the happenings and workings of another culture. But it never stops to glorify or criticize its practices and traditions and these simply form the background to the story told. This is both charming and erudite at the same time.

The character development is spot on and you can really sense the emotional and mental growth of the characters as the years go by. Jane is the book's backbone in more ways than one. She goes from being an innocent, sweet and almost naive young lady to a seasoned woman who has experienced life at its best and worst; becoming a true matriarch of her big family by the end. This sort of change can be seen in John as well, his initial softness giving way to a hardcore ideology and aggression and then in the latter part of his life becoming a passive family man trying to keep everyone happy. The book has a host of other characters who will leave a lasting impression on you irrespective of the amount of time they appear in the narrative. Leonard and Michael are two such characters that come to mind.

The biggest strength of the book is the fine emotive writing and the equally strong characterizations. It keeps you involved in the proceedings from page one. Definitely recommended!

The Urban Boys
K.N. Smith
Two Petals Publishing
9780989474757, $12.95 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Boys like Brothers – A review of the book 'The Urban Boys'

"Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero." –Brad Boney

Author K.N. Smith's 'The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses' is a novel that explores the age old fight between good and evil in a modern, urban setting. Two distinct societies exist within the story, one a fairytale-ish little town filled with honest and hardworking individuals while the neighboring town is a dark dystopian world where petty crime and crime-lords reign supreme. A forest preserve situated between these two worlds contains a mysterious energy source, one which alters and heightens people's senses. When a group of people from these two strikingly different worlds come into contact with this energy source, an epic melee between good & evil ensues.

K.N. Smith has at her disposal a lyrical prose that describes the environment and the characters in such fine (and magical) detail that you can't help but fall in love with the world she has created. All the characters get introduced into the narrative early on and only then does the plot arc really kick in. Their introduction has a cinematic feel to it and you end up making a personal connect with each of the protagonists.

The five teenage heroes have an equal role to play in the proceedings and their superpowers and fighting skills are evenly matched. But it's their unique backstories that's going to help readers choose their favorite hero from the group. This is a good fix for a book that's primarily aimed at younger audiences. Jordan, Rhee, Kinsu, Chase and Alex are more or less well developed characters, but it's the fine dialogues they mouth that helps in showing-off their deep set friendship and brotherly love for each other.

All said and done, 'The Urban Boys' offers plenty of life lessons that are arranged in a subtle manner throughout the narrative. Importance of family ties, friendship, honesty, and staying true to yourself are all touched upon in this adventure story. The book is much more than about teenage boys with super powers fighting ruffians and thugs, it persuades each person to do good so that evil can be kept away from the collective.

'Discovery of the Five Senses' is a great start to this new series and the premise holds much promise for more entertaining episodes.

Roger Blake
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511822824, $19.95,

The Roger Ramjet story – A review of the book 'One Helluva Life'

"In the aftermath, we are because they were." – RJ Heller

'One Helluva Life' is a searing and inspiring autobiographical account of Roger Blake, a US Navy Veteran commissioned as a Naval Flight Officer in 1964. In this candid memoir, he narrates his experiences working as Radar Intercept Officer onboard fighter/bombers for the Navy during the Vietnam War and the various life battles he fought after landing back on home soil. This autobiography captures a Navy Veteran's life-long struggle with PTSD and also the positive outcomes he realized by dabbling in various creative pursuits. These pursuits ultimately became the panacea to overcome his mental trauma and see life in a new light.

Roger Blake's autobiography is a well compiled book highlighting the important and noteworthy events from the man's life. Coming at over just 300+ pages, it also hits the right length in terms of a biographical narrative that never feels inadequate or like it's too long drawn out. As with any autobiography, its voice is limited by a particular character of the author's life that he wants to share with the world. Even so, the sincerity behind the intention and the dialogue are unflappable. You really get to sense an ordinary man dealing with raw emotions at the best and worst times of his life. This autobiography includes Roger's original artworks and photographs, which showcase his creative musings and offers a glimpse into his artistic spirit.

The memoir mainly focuses on the adult life of Roger Blake and his entire childhood is condensed to a few passages and lines thereafter. But even without it being explicitly stated, you can feel the ramifications of his childhood experiences, influencing the actions and decisions taken by the man later in his life. His life and career flying in fighter and bomber planes for the Navy is well documented and his detailed descriptions will take the reader inside the cockpit of these planes. The civilian life of an individual after a stint in the armed forces is something that has been much written and documented about. And it's uncanny how Roger Blake's struggles as a civilian resonates so much with the stories we hear about our veterans. It makes you wonder if we love and respect our soldiers only at the time of war and conveniently overlook them in times of peace.

There are many events and passages that will stay with you long after you're done with the book. Roger's brief adventure trip in locating his father, the war stories from Vietnam, the Melissa phase of his life, talking about his children and his decision to finally let down his guard and seek professional help for his emotional trauma are some of the highlights from this memoir.

Roger Blake's writing has a personal touch to it and should easily connect with readers. The narrative checkmarks various themes like humor, romance & sensuality, inspirational, emotion rich, and action filled; all in all a standard fare that you would expect from any traditional action-thriller fiction book. Except the fact that this isn't fiction and all these events took place in an individual's life should leave you with something to think about.

Dragon Sword
Richard Dawes
Melange Books
9781680462005, $10.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Ancient Warrior – A review of the novel 'Dragon Sword'

"I often think that men don't understand what is noble and what is ignorant, though they always talk about it." – Leo Tolstoy

Author Richard Dawes' new book 'Valka the Wolf Slayer - Dragon Sword' is the first book in the 'Wolf Slayer Saga' series. In the story we are introduced to Valka, the younger son of Baron Ulrich of the fiefdom of Valentia in the kingdom of Kornelia. Valka has earned the title, Wolf Slayer, by slaying the wolves that infest his father's fiefdom and decimate the villagers' cattle. He isn't, however, merely another warrior with a sword. As the story progresses, we discover he carries the bloodline of the ancient Dragon Lords. The Dragon Lords were an elite band of dedicated warriors. Ever in the forefront of battle, they guarded Kings, and it was from their ranks that Divine Kings were chosen.

After years of studying the sword under Count Albrecht, who initiates him onto the 'Way of the Warrior', Valka sets out from home in search of his destiny. Along the way he finds many adventures where his courage and sword skills are tested to the limit. The adventures ensure that the name, Valka the Wolf Slayer, will be feared and revered throughout the kingdom.

Armed with a special sword and a style of swordsmanship that is unique to him, Valka encounters many ruffians and villains in his quest for adventure. There are backstabbing nobles, challenges from outlaws, and even an ancient dragon that test his powers. Dedicated learning and following of the 'Warrior's Way' enables him to channel immense power from within, however, and that power becomes his ally when confronted with life and death situations.

The author is clear about what he wants to say in the book, and that honesty and straightforwardness are reflected in the narrative. The idea that power exists on different planes, and maintaining the balance of power forms the major backdrop for the novel. The story is surprisingly philosophical and spiritual in its attempt to dissect the reality we take for granted. Ideas such as an individual's role on this plane from a personal perspective, and that role from the point of view of the cosmos, make for some deep and insightful reading. And just when the narrative becomes heavy and serious, there is always a decapitation or two lurking around the corner. The action sequences are so well described that the choreography of the fights can be pictured vividly. In fact, it is this nice balance of deep seated philosophy with high octane action that fuels the narrative forward in a straight line without any drags and hiccups.

Valka is the quintessential warrior poet who can cut opponents down to size with his sword as well as his mind. Although depicted as a young man, the detailed back story of Valka's initiation onto the Warrior's Way and his training describe the development of his character. He is built for hero-worship, and he possesses many qualities that readers look for in a hero. The book has multiple characters and each leaves a lasting impression irrespective of his or her importance in the overall narrative. Marija, the Princess who denies her feminine side, and Bretta, who becomes a valuable ally for Valka, are some of the strong woman characters in the book.

A great start to a series!

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

Churchill The Life
Max Arthur
Firefly Books Ltd.
50 Staples Avenue, Unit 1, Richmond Hill, ON, Canada L4B 0A7
9781770856325, $35.00, 272pp,

Synopsis: "Churchill The Life: An Authorized Pictorial Biography" by biographer Max Aruther is a truly stunning book pictorial commemorates the life of Britain's greatest leader and the best friend the United States ever had. "Churchill The Life" is deftly organized and presented in eight major sections, each of which narrates Churchill's monumental life and achievements including: Youth 1874-1903: Unhappy son of a British duke and American mother; student; father's death; Early Military Career 1898-1916: Soldier; war reporter; escaped prisoner; author; husband and father; Early Political Career 1899-1922: Decorated soldier; parliamentarian; government minister; The First World War: Political defeat and blunders; American lecture tour; government minister; Rising through the ranks: Political legacy of the Great War; government minister; painter; farmer; The Second World War: Prime Minister; V-E Day; Post-War Years: Political defeat; "Iron Curtain" Speech; daughter's suicide; death of second daughter; Legacy: Statesman; historian; Honorary Citizen of the United States; Nobel Prize Laureate, final days.
"Churchill The Life" also features previously unpublished photographs of artifacts in the Churchill Archive Centre; family pictures and private correspondence; telegrams, drafts of speeches, press cuttings and official papers; ephemera, like an early report card that describes him as "very bad--in constant trouble to everybody"; pictorial time lines; public correspondence and historical items given to him; fascinating and exhaustively researched captions and quotes.

Critique: Each image is enhanced with the inclusion of an informed and informative commentary. The result is a superbly crafted and unique approach to presenting the life and work of one Britains most influential prime ministers and a man who left an enduring legacy and impact upon his nation. An inherently fascinating study from beginning to end, "Churchill The Life: An Authorized Pictorial Biography"" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library 20th Century Biography collections in general, and Winston Churchill supplemental studies lists in particular.

We'll Live Tomorrow
Will Everett
Galatea Press
9780996287104, $14.95, 385pp,

Synopsis: In an aid compound in southern Afghanistan, under the watchful eyes of the Taliban, lives Hunter Ames, an American grappling with a dark family history and a growing midlife malaise. As he tries to find meaning in the chaos, he meets the mysterious Karimullah, a former bacha bazi sex slave hunted by his master. "We'll Live Tomorrow" follows the unusual friendship the develops between the two. But menacing forces surround them, imbuing their friendship with the promise of salvation and the prospect of tragedy.

Critique: A work of fiction that could be taken from today's headlines as the civil war in Afghanistan lingers on, "We'll Live Tomorrow" is a compelling and deftly crafted read that showcases author Will Everett's considerable and impressive talents as a novelist. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "We'll Live Tomorrow" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Economics for Business
Ivan K. Cohen
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749470197, $39.95, 360pp,

Synopsis: With a truly global perspective, "Economics for Business: A Guide to Decision Making in a Complex Global Macroeconomy" by Ivan K. Cohen (Associate Professor in Finance and Economics at Richmond University, the American International University based in London) merges business content with economics, making it an ideal introduction to economics for MBA students. "Economics for Business" explains key concepts and provides the tools needed to make decisions, sustain competitive advantage, and confront business complexities with confidence. Each chapter contains a clear learning objective and learning outcomes, definitions of key terms, illustrations, charts, and graphs, and bullet point chapter summaries at the end. "Economics for Business" covers such issues as the crucial importance of the financial system to individual business and the macroeconomy; the process of globalization and its implication for business; the role of the market as well as supply and demand; the impact of demand on branding and brand loyalty; and pricing strategies under various market structures. "Economics for Business" also includes free supporting online resources, including extra case studies and exam questions and answers, PowerPoint lecture slides, and links to current and relevant articles.

Critique: An absolute 'must read' for anyone having to do business on an international level in the current global economy, and of critical importance for anyone whose business is affected by global business climates, "Economics for Business: A Guide to Decision Making in a Complex Global Macroeconomy" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it ideal for students, business executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the global economy. "Economics for Business" is strongly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library Business & Economics reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Economics for Business" is also available in a Kindle edition ($35.96).

Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline
Larry P. Tilley & Francis W. K. Smith, Jr.
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781118881576, $109.99, 1696pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded sixth edition, "Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline" is the collaborative work of veterinarians Larry P. Tilley (who is also President of VetMed Consultants in Santa Fe, New Mexico) and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr. (who is also Vice President of VetMed Consultants in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA, as well as Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University in North Grafton, Massachusetts). "Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline" is like having a trusted clinician with you in the exam room as this comprehensive reference continues to offer fast access to information in an easy-to-use format. "Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline" provides fast access to key information on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions in dogs and cats; covers 846 specific disorders, making it the most comprehensive quick-reference book on canine and feline medicine; is carefully designed for fast searching and reference in the busy practice setting, giving you the confidence to make clinical decisions quickly and appropriately; presents contributions from 379 leading experts specializing in all areas of veterinary medicine; and includes access to a companion website with 354 client education handouts for you to download and use in practice, plus images and video clips.

Critique: A standard and very highly recommended textbook for veterinary school and academic library veterinary studies curriculums and reference collections, "Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline" will prove to be an essential, enduringly popular, thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, organization, and presentation, and an immanently practical reference for veterinarians and veterinary clinics.

The Broad Collection
Joanne Heyler, editor
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791353302, $85.00, 464pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Joanne Heyler (Founding Director of The Broad and Director and Chief Curator of The Broad Art Foundation.), "The Broad Collection" is an impressive volume of superb writing and lavish illustrations that pays tribute to one of the most significant collections of contemporary art in the world and are now a major new museum, The Broad in Los Angeles. For more than four decades Eli and Edythe Broad have fostered public appreciation of contemporary art through their collection of nearly 2,000 works, notable for its incredible sophistication and breadth. They operate the collection as a "lending library" through an enterprising loan program to institutions around the world. This book highlights The Broad collection's depth by assembling a sharp cast of cultural leaders, writers, critics, and curators to share their insights, experiences, and diverse points of view on some of The Broad collection's most celebrated artists. Readers will delight in essays by filmmaker John Waters on Jeff Koons; music critic Greil Marcus on Christopher Wool; novelist Siri Husvedt on Anselm Kiefer; travel writer and essayist Pico Iyer on Takashi Murakami; Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Mark Stevens on Cy Twombly; and former Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, John Elderfield on Jasper Johns, among many other pairings. Curated as carefully as an exhibition, "The Broad Collection" is a collection of timeless images and timely writings that gives readers a unique pathway through this enormous, and enormously influential, collection.

Critique: Impressive, comprehensive, informed and informative, "The Broad Collection" is a superb showcase and introduction to what promises to be one of the country's truly outstanding art museum collections. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Art History and Art Appreciation reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "The Broad Collection" would also prove to be an excellent template for other museums to follow with respect to introducing and showcasing their collections as well.

Illuminating The Word
Christopher Calderhead
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814691328, $49.95, 352pp,

Synopsis: "Illuminating the Word: The Making of The Saint John's Bible" is a companion volume to "The Saint John's Bible", in which visual artist and graphic designer Christopher Calderhead takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of this extraordinary project. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, "Illuminating The Word" tells the story of the makers of the Bible and the community at Saint John's Abbey and University. The day-to-day struggles of such a monumental undertaking included challenges such as the selection and preparation of more than 250 calf skins, as well as forming a team of calligraphers accustomed to working independently and communicating the concerns of the advisory council in Minnesota with the artists in Wales. "Illuminating the Word" explores a modern version of an age-old relationship between patron and sponsor, and the artistic director, scribes and artists producing this monumental artwork. "Illuminating The Word" also describes 'lectio divina', the unique method the Benedictine monks use to read the Bible, in which the Holy Scriptures come alive through the power of imagination. It explores the challenge of creating new images for ancient stories. "Illuminating The Word" deftly chronicles the artistic techniques, the tools and materials and the workshop practices Donald Jackson used to create his lifetime masterpiece. Finally, "Illuminating the Word" reveals the working process behind one of the greatest undertakings of our time and vividly brings to life its challenges and triumphs.

Critique: As beautifully and profusely illustrated as it is informed and informative, "Illuminating the Word: The Making of The Saint John's Bible" is a singular and highly recommended addition to church and academic library Christian Studies and Christian Art reference collections and supplemental reading lists. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Illuminating The Word" will prove to be of enduring interest and specially commended to the attention of both scholars and non-specialist general readers within the Christian community.

The Country House Ideal
Jeremy Musson
Merrell Publishers
8755 Lookout Mountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
9781858946399, $70.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Co-founded by Robert Adam, ADAM Architecture has a worldwide reputation for traditional Western design. Although the practice is based in the UK, it has built award-winning projects of all types around the world, and is known for combining modern interpretations of the Classical tradition with the latest technology. Among its most admired work are its country houses, and 19 of these houses are the focus of "The Country House Ideal: Recent Work by ADAM Architecture", new architectural study written by architectural historian Jeremy Musson.

Robert Adam co-founded the practice (as Winchester Design) in 1986, and has worked with technical director Paul Hanvey for more than 30 years (including at a previous incarnation of the practice). Adam now works with three other architect-directors – Nigel Anderson, Hugh Petter and George Saumarez Smith – to build country houses that are not period reproductions but creative interpretations of past traditions. Each director has his own architectural personality, together producing a body of work that uses historical precedents, including construction techniques, materials, layout and details, to give expression to thoroughly modern works. Their schemes address the modern-day realities of energy conservation, climate control, internet access, computer-managed systems and security – all prerequisites in contemporary house design. Unlike country houses of the past, today's houses must be functional without live-in staff. Kitchens are now the focus of much family life and entertaining, rather than spaces to be kept from sight. These and numerous other practical considerations receive meticulous attention in an ADAM Architecture country house.

"The Country House Ideal" begins with two forewords, with Clive Aslet and Calder Loth offering their interpretations of the ideal country house from a British and an American perspective respectively. The introduction provides an overview of the rich and varied tradition of the English country house, from the medieval manor house to houses of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, and the Classically inspired designs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through to the architecture of the Gothic Revival and then the Arts and Crafts Movement. Architects associated with the country house throughout the ages include, among others, John Vanburgh, William Chambers, Robert Adam, John Nash and Sir Edwin Lutyens. And now, today, ADAM Architecture is one of the leading practices designing and building new country houses.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout by Paul Barker (one of the leading architectural photographers in the United Kingdom), "The Country House Ideal: Recent Work by ADAM Architecture" is a seminal work of architectural scholarship in which Jeremy Musson applies his considerable knowledge and expertise as an architectural historian to an impressively informed and informative survey of the work and accomplishments of a major British architect whose influence ranges far beyond the British isles. Of special note is the chapter on 'The Art of Fine Building'. Enhanced with the inclusion of a two page Bibliography; a five page list of Director Biographies; a one page listing of Acknowledgements and Picture Credits; and a four page Index, "The Country House Ideal" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to professional and academic library Architecture reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Rex Insularum
Steinar Imsen
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9788232104147, $100.00, 438pp,

Synopsis: "Rex Insularum: The King of Norway and His 'Skattlands' as a Political System c. 1260-c. 1450" encompasses the results of the transnational project 'The Realm of Norway and Its Dependencies as a Political System c. 1250-1450,' financed by the Research Council of Norway. Known in Norwegian historiography as 'Norgesveldet,' the realm consisted of the mainland Norwegian kingdom and a range of island communities at Scotland's northern and western seaboards, as well as the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland. Within this national historiographic tradition, 'Norgesveldet' is often portrayed as a kind of Norwegian empire. The aim of the project has been to elucidate the relationship between Norwegian kingship and the Crown's 'tributary lands' in the west and the ways in which kingship influenced socio-political developments at the margins of the realm. The Scandinavian frontiers, which were never fully integrated into Norway during the Middle Ages, have also figured into the project. Attention is focused on the period after c. 1260, when the Norwegian monarchy was reconstituted as a state-like institution encompassing all the king's lands and dominions. The axial themes of "Rex Insularum" are the degree to which the kingship succeeded in its enterprises and the ways in which the state development process transpired in the tributary lands and frontier provinces. Working from the contention that 'Norgesveldet' never developed as a Norwegian empire, Rex Insularum refers to 'the realm of Norway and its dependencies' as the Norwegian king's 'insular realm.' In doing so, "Rex Insularum" challenges the Norwegian national tradition, because communities at the margins of the realm were later enveloped in other kingdoms and developing states in the British Isles and Scandinavia.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout, "Rex Insularum: The King of Norway and His 'Skattlands' as a Political System c. 1260-c. 1450" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship by compiled and edited by Steinar Imsen (Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History, Department of Historical Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Informed and informative, "Rex Insularum" will prove to be an essential and core addition for academic library Medieval Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Impressively accessible and deftly organized with thoroughly 'reader friendly' commentaries, "Rex Insularum" is ideal for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Medieval Norwegian history.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Love, Animals & Miracles
Dr. Bernie S. Siegel with Cynthia J. Hurn
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608683345 $21.95 hc / $12.49 Kindle

Synopsis: Dr. Bernie Siegel has long observed how relationships with animals have helped his patients, alleviating their suffering and heartbreak. Now, he's gathered many inspiring true stories, including delightful tales from the "Siegel Family Zoo" where "squawks, purrs, chirrups, squeaks, barks, and so on" fill the house. Other stories reveal animals as teachers and messengers, doctors and nurses, healers and miracle workers, and often as guileless clowns. Bernie writes that animals are here to show us how to be nonjudgmental and live better, healthier lives. Let these stories teach you, and apply their lessons to your daily life. If you have an animal, an appreciation for the inspirational, or simply the need for a smile, you'll treasure this celebration of animals as a source of love, wisdom, and miracles. A portion of the publisher's proceeds from this book will aid Ark Angel Society.

Critique: A heart-touching, true-life anthology, Love, Animals & Miracles reveals how human connections with animals can enrich the lives of both parties. Animals can help us teach our children about compassion, show the way to grace, deliver messages in our dreams, and aid in the difficult process of recovering from trauma. A joy to browse from cover to cover, Love, Animals & Miracles is highly recommended.

Galloping to Freedom
Carol J. Walker, author & illustrator
Elizabeth Testa, editor
Painted Hills Publishing
9780981793610, $39.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: "Galloping to Freedom: Reuniting the Adobe Town Appaloosas" photographically showcases the playful, protective, elegant, affectionate, loyal, and beautiful horses of Wyoming's famed Adobe Town herd. Their stunning images are caught in the wild by award-winning photographer Carol Walker. Especially remarkable is the snow capped stallion that Walker thinks of as Bronze Warrior and his band of Appaloosa-marked mares and offspring. But their freedom was to be curtailed. In the fall of 2014, the Adobe Town horses were rounded up, their bands divided. Bronze Warrior and his sons were shipped to Colorado, their mares to a holding facility in Wyoming, and their young sent to Carson City, Nevada. Moved by the horse's strong family bonds in the wild, Walker joined with other advocates to intercede. "Galloping to Freedom" is the story captured in Walker s signature dramatic images of searching out, gathering together, and ultimately reuniting Bronze Warrior s extended family at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. "Galloping to Freedom: Reuniting the Adobe Town Appaloosas" will engage your heart and forever change your view of America s wild horses.

Critique: Simply stated, "Galloping to Freedom: Reuniting the Adobe Town Appaloosas" should be considered a "must read" for every equine enthusiast and horse lover in the country. The photography is outstanding, the succinct captions and commentaries informed and informative, the entire book a masterpiece. "Galloping to Freedom" should be a part of every community and academic library collection for the enduring benefit and pleasure of their patrons -- and perhaps inspire similar efforts in other parts of the country.

The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New
Marty Machowski, author
Andy McGuire, illustrator
New Growth Press
1301 Carolina Street, Suite L-101, Greensboro, NC 27401
9781942572282, $29.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as "The Ology". What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them. Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So "The Ology" by Mary Machowski gives kids of all ages a beginner s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in "The Ology" is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are on display and easier to understand. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together.

Critique: Beautifully enhanced with the full color illustrations of Andy McGuire, "The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, church, and community library Christian Studies collections and reading lists for children. Indeed, "The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New" is strongly recommended to the children of all Christian families regardless of their denominational affiliation.

My Fat Dad
Dawn Lerman
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425272237, $16.00, 336pp,

Synopsis: Dawn Lerman spent her childhood constantly hungry. She craved good food as her father, 450 pounds at his heaviest, pursued endless fad diets, from Atkins to Pritikin to all sorts of freeze-dried, saccharin-laced concoctions, and insisted the family do the same - even though no one else was overweight. Dawn's mother, on the other hand, could barely be bothered to eat a can of tuna over the sink. She was too busy ferrying her other daughter to acting auditions and scolding Dawn for cleaning the house It was chaotic and lonely, but Dawn had someone she could turn to: her grandmother Beauty. Those days spent with Beauty, learning to cook, breathing in the scents of fresh dill or sharing the comfort of a warm pot of chicken soup, made it all bearable. Even after Dawn's father took a prestigious ad job in New York City and moved the family away, Beauty would send a card from Chicago every week along with a recipe, a shopping list, and a twenty-dollar bill. She continued to cultivate Dawn's love of wholesome food, and ultimately taught her how to make her own way in the world one recipe at a time. In "My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes", Dawn reflects on her colorful family and culinary-centric upbringing, and how food shaped her connection to her family, her Jewish heritage, and herself. Humorous and compassionate, this memoir is an ode to the incomparable satisfaction that comes with feeding the ones you love.

Critique: A compelling and inherently fascinating read that will resonate with readers who have food relative family memories of their own, "My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "My Fat Dad" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion
Liz Doherty
Cape Breton University Press
P.O. Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P 6L2
9781772060249, $24.95, 456pp,

Synopsis: Celtic music scholar and musician Liz Doherty is no stranger to Cape Breton music. She has made a thorough and comprehensive study of it. Doherty's exposure to, and research of, the island's music traditions was the germination for writing "The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion", a specialized compendium on the Cape Breton fiddle, including its history, its people, the tunes, and the recordings. The fiddle music of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, has its own sound, artistic standards, performance practices and etiquette. The Cape Breton fiddler of the 21st century is performing a music that was transplanted from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Adapted and evolved as it has passed down through several generations, each of its exponents carrying an inherited responsibility to maintain the music's integrity while also making it relevant for contemporary audiences. "The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion" widens the field of view for future adherents and scholars of Cape Breton music, raises as many questions as it answers, and thus contributes to the ongoing conversation. Above all, "The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion" is a tribute to those who have carried and developed this wonderful music and shared it with so many of us around the world.

Critique: Impressively well researched, exceptional written, deftly organized, and accessibly presented, "The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion" is a unique, almost encyclopedic, and inherently fascinating work of regional music history that would well serve as a template for similar studies of other locally identifiable instrumental and folk music phenomena. A seminal work of outstanding scholarship from beginning to end, "The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion" is a very highly recommended for both community and academic library Music History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cape Breton Fiddle Companion" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

Angels: The Definitive Guide to Angels from Around the World
Marie-Ange Faugherolas
Jeremy P. Tarcher
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780399176401, $21.95, 560pp,

Synopsis: Supernatural beings called angels appear in every major world religion from Christianity to Judaism, Islam to the Native American Thunderbirds. "Angels: The Definitive Guide to Angels from Around the World" is a celebration of all the world's divine messengers and a definitive resource containing all of the knowledge collected about these awe-inspiring beings. Rigorously researched, "Angels" is packed from cover to cover with knowledge about these protectors and guides, including: who (or what) angels are, their duties to the people of earth, their appearance, and their origins; prayers for invoking your guardian angel and chasing away negative emotions; the many rituals that will help you call on angels to help transform your life and guide, protect, and steer you toward love and success, and so much more. "Angels" is a compendium of ancient and modern angel wisdom that offers a perspective on a world we could only have previously imagined, as well as practical tools to bring more love, light, and energy into our lives.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Angels: The Definitive Guide to Angels from Around the World" will prove to be of immense interest to scholars, clergy, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in metaphysical studies in general, and angels acting as divine messengers to the human race in particular. Enhanced with the inclusion of a six page Annex, a six page Glossary, a six page Index of Names, an eight page Index of Angels, and an eight page General Index, "Angels: The Definitive Guide to Angels from Around the World" is a seminal work of research that is very highly recommended for church, synagogue, community, and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Angels: The Definitive Guide to Angels from Around the World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Vocabulary for the New Science Standards
Robert J. Marzano, Katie Rogers, Julia A. Simms
Marzano Research Laboratory
555 N. Morton St., Bloomington, IN 47404
9780991374892, $29.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Vocabulary for the New Science Standards" is specifically written to enable classroom teachers to impact science education for their students with direct vocabulary instruction. "Vocabulary for the New Science Standards" is a three-part resource offering a six-step process for successfully incorporating vocabulary from the new science standards into student learning. "Vocabulary for the New Science Standards" will facilitate the identification of the crucial aspects of vocabulary education while targeting strategies to actively engage students. "Vocabulary for the New Science Standards" will prove indispensable with respect to providing access to lists of essential scientific terms that will help establish an effective, organized vocabulary program. "Vocabulary for the New Science Standards" covers such issues as recognizing the importance of vocabulary instruction on student reading ability and academic achievement; gaining access to self-evaluation scales that students can use to score their degree of understanding; mastering grade-level, domain-specific vocabulary from the new science standards to enhance student learning from grade to grade; discovering the components and support needed to implement a systemwide vocabulary program; and creating a system of assessment that tracks student progress with vocabulary from the new science standards.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, "Vocabulary for the New Science Standards" is impressively 'teacher friendly' in both organization and presentation. The result is an indispensable and valued addition to school curriculums and a highly recommended addition to academic library Science Education instructional resource collections.

Vintage Stitching Treasury
Suzanne McNeill
Design Originals
c/o Fox Chapel Publishing Company
1970 Broad Street N., East Petersburg, PA 17520
9781497200074, $19.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: In "Vintage Stitching Treasury", do-it-yourself crafting trendsetter Suzanne McNeill shows how to use vintage embroidery to add a nostalgic touch to anything you sew. Throughout the years women have decorated their world by stitching artistic designs onto quilts, pillows, linens, laundry bags, potholders, and more. Now you can give new life to these charming motifs of olden days. Inside this book you ll discover a treasure chest of authentic embroidery patterns from the classic magazines and needlework catalogs of days gone by. From birds and bunnies to flowers and fruit, hundreds of retro-cool designs are accompanied by gorgeous color photographs, stitching advice, and four step-by-step projects. You re sure to find the perfect inspiration here for creating either a thoughtful gift or a new family heirloom.

Critique: Showcasing more than four hundred authentic embroidery designs and projects, as well as being thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end, "Vintage Stitching Treasury " will prove to be a prized addition to personal needlecraft instructional reference collections for novice and experienced embroiders alike.

Creative Dance and Learning
Mary Ann Brehm & Lynne McNett
Princeton Book Company
614 Route 130, Highstown, NJ 08520
9780871273895, $39.95, 334pp,

Synopsis: Bringing together the traditions of creative dance and current educational theory, "Creative Dance and Learning: Making the Kinesthetic Link" gives teachers the means to make movement expression a part of students' lives. By helping them develop their kinesthetic intelligence, the text shows teachers how to tap into this rich modality of learning and integrate it into the many goals of education, including self-awareness, creativity, fitness, and individual and group problem-solving skills. Extensive lesson plan applications demonstrate how movement activities can be linked to academic subjects such as language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. More than 25 lesson plans and 40 lesson adaptations are included so that lessons can be adapted to a wide range of age groups and settings. Creative Toolboxes offer specific activities to try with students and Concept Spotlights encapsulate lesson concepts. Lesson Worksheets and Brainstorming Lists illustrate the lesson-planning process, while chapter summaries and review questions round out this helpful resource.

Critique: Mary Ann Brehm has taught dance to people of all ages and abilities for more than 30 years, including courses for classroom teachers in using dance within a school setting at the Lesley University, University of Vermont, and University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. She currently offers creative dance teacher training workshops. Lynne McNette has taught creative dance and integrated arts in school settings for 30 years. She worked for ten years as a professional development consultant for the Allied Arts Education project in Bellingham, Washington, and currently teaching at Western Washington University. Together, Mary Ann Brehem and Lynne Mcnette draw upon their many years of experience and expertise to deftly craft a complete course of thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction that will be a much prized and appreciated contribution to academic curriculums in dance education and physical education activities for elementary school and junior high aged children. ""Creative Dance and Learning: Making the Kinesthetic Link" is a core and essential addition to academic library Dance Education reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Body of Art
Phaidon Press
65 Bleecker Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10012
9780714869667, $59.95, 440pp,

Synopsis: "Body of Art" from Phaidon Press is the first book to explore the various ways the human body has been both an inspiration and a medium for artists over hundreds of thousands of years. Unprecedented in its scope, it examines the many different manifestations of the body in art, from Anthony Gormley and Maya Lin sculptures to eight-armed Hindu gods and ancient Greek reliefs, from feminist graphics and Warhol's empty electric chair to the blue-tinted complexion of Singer Sargent's Madame X. "Body of Art" is the most expansive examination of the human body in art, spanning western and non-western, ancient to contemporary, representative to abstract and conceptual. Over 400 artists are featured in chapters that explore identity, beauty, religion, absent body, sex and gender, power, body's limits, abject body and bodies & space. Works range from 11,000 BC hand stencils in Argentine caves to videos and performances by contemporary artists such as Marina Abramovic, Joan Jonas and Bruce Nauman. Its fresh, accessible and dynamic voice brings to life the thrilling diversity of both classical and contemporary art through the prism of the body. More than simply a book of representations, "Body of Art" is an original and thought provoking look at the human body across time, cultures and media.

Critique: Beginning with an informative introduction by Jennifer Blessing (The Cycle of Life), "Body of Art" is a beautifully and profusely illustrated art history that is deftly organized and presented in ten thematic chapters: Beauty; Identity; Power; Religion & Belief; Sex & Gender; Emotion Embodied; The Body's Limits; Bodies & Spaces; The Abject Body; and The Absent Body. Enhanced with the inclusion of a sixteen page Timeline and a ten page Index. A truly impressive work, "Body of Art" is a unique and strongly recommended to both community and academic library Art History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. Indeed, "Body of Art" is so well written and presented that it is ideal for both scholars and non-specialist readers with an interest in how the human body has been depicted and represented in art throughout time and around the world.

Jennifer Slattery
New Hope Publishers
PO Box 830711, Birmingham, AL 35283-0711
9781596694439, $15.99, 317pp,

Synopsis: Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, they soon discover their lives are intertwined, but the ICU is no place for romance. Yet it could be where life begins again.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, this deftly crafted novel is a riveting and entertaining read from first page to last. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Intertwined" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

Dancing Mindfulness
Jamie Marich
Skylight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farms Offices, Route 4
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781594736018, $16.99, 200pp,

Synopsis: Jamie Marich is the founder of the Dancing Mindfulness community and facilitator-training program. She is also a clinical counselor who leads training sessions and retreats on trauma, addiction and mindfulness worldwide. Jamie Marich actively trains facilitators in dancing mindfulness practice, and maintains a private clinical practice in her home base of Youngstown, Ohio. In "Dancing Mindfulness" uses theory and step-by-step exercises laid out to expertly guides readers through seven primary elements of mindfulness in motion: breath, sound, body, story, mind, spirit and fusion, either for personal practice or in a group.

Critique: Expertly written, organized and designed, "Dancing Mindfulness" is as informed and informative as it is 'user friendly' in both tone and presentation. "Dancing Mindfulness" is an especially recommended 'how to' instruction guide for personal, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training
Lucy Wyndham Read
Meyer & Meyer Sport
Cardinal Publishers Group
2402 North Shadeland Avenue, Suite A, Indianapolis, IN 46219
9781782550648, $16.95, 184pp,

Synopsis: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best and quickest way to get fit, lose weight, and tone your body! It helps you tailor your fitness regime to exercise the body part you want to improve and to incorporate it into your busy schedule. You can do these short workouts at home, at the gym, or even at work. All you need is 15 minutes a day and within just one month, you'll sculpt your body, burn fat, and improve your strength! With "HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training" professional fitness trainer and nutritionist Lucy Wyndham-Read provides you with a complete guide to High-Intensity Interval Training, with lots of exercises and workouts with step-by-step instructions. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, HIIT will prove appropriate for you! "The perfect companion on your way to better health and a beautiful, sexy body, "HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training" includes are 4- to 7-minute workouts, a park bench workout, the skinny jeans workouts, running and walking workouts and many more. Of special note are the practical tips on nutrition and motivation. A 7-day healthy eating plan helps you with your weight loss aims.

Critique: Lucy Wyndham-Read served in the British Army for five years and has worked as a fitness trainer and nutritionist since then. She has helped thousands of men and women lose weight and stay in shape. In "HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training" she draws from her years of experience and expertise to prove an impressively well organized and presented instruction guide that is as informed and informative as it is 'user friendly' in both tone and content. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Fitness instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

FRBR, Before and After
Karen Coyle
ALA Editions
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838913451, $50.00, 200pp,

Synopsis: Karen Coyle is a librarian with over 30 years' experience with library technology, who serves as consultant on a variety of issues relating to digital libraries. In "FRBR, Before and After: A Look at Our Bibliographic Models" she persuasively argues that to more effectively connect library users with books, movies, music, computer games, and other resources, library data needs to move beyond FRBR towards a more integrative approach to bibliographic models. But doing so requires fundamental changes in the approach to library data. Combing a sweeping perspective with a critical eye, she assesses how we define a work in the bibliographic world. Showing how bibliographic models reflect technology and our assumed goals of libraries, she points the way ahead for catalogers and metadata specialists, providing clear explanations and analysis on such topics such as library data models and their connection to technology, from early printing to relational databases and the Semantic Web; ideas and influence of leading thinkers such Lubetsky, Wilson, and Tillet, along with lesser known theorists like Tanaguchi; IFLA meetings that led to the FRBR study group, including its original charge and final report; FRBR as a conceptual model, and how that differs from data models; the FRBR document's flawed entity-relationship model and how it overlooks user needs; efforts to define a work as a meaningful, creative unit separate from the physical package; detailed analysis of the FRBR entities; and implementations of FRBR both inside and outside the library community.

Critique: A seminal work that combines basic information with keen experienced driven insights, "FRBR, Before and After: A Look at Our Bibliographic Models" will prove to be of exceptional interest to LIS students and working librarians alike. "FRBR, Before and After" should be considered a core and essential addition to professional and academic Library Science instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Fanny Elssler
Ivor Guest
Dance Books Ltd
9781852731687, $55.00, 318pp,

Synopsis: Fanny Elssler was one of the most brilliant stars of the Romantic ballet. The accepted rival of Taglioni, she represented the passionate expression of the dance. Theophile Gautier distinguished the two ballerinas by describing Elssler as a pagan dancer and Taglioni as a Christian dancer. There was no doubt that it was Elssler he preferred. Her style found its true expression in her famous Spanish character dance: the Cachucha, but even more, it was her dramatic genius that conquered the audiences before whom she appeared. She approached, more closely than any other ballerina of her time, the ideal of the complete dancer-actress, and her example lives on today in the tradition which modern ballerinas follow in the role of Giselle. In Ivor Guest's biography Fanny Elssler's performances comes vividly to life through eye-witness accounts, and the story of her life is told with a wealth of detail, much of it hitherto unpublished. Among the highlights are Elssler's adventurous tour of the United States (she was the first great ballerina to cross the Atlantic), her fantastic triumphs in Russia, her sentimental friendship with the great publicist, Gentz, and the persistent legend of her liaison with the son of Napoleon. Based on wide research, this biography is a definitive study of one of the greatest figures in the history of ballet.

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Fanny Elssler" by ballet historian Ivor Guest is a compelling and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Simply stated, "Fanny Elssler" should be considered a singular and important addition to academic library Dance History reference collections in general, and Ballet History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

The Brain: An Illustrated History of Neuroscience
Tom Jackson
Shelter Harbor Press
603 W 115th Street, Suite 163, New York, NY 10025
9780985323080, $24.95, 168pp,

Synopsis: "The Brain: An Illustrated History of Neuroscience" by science writer Tom Jackson is the essential guide to the human brain. This authoritative reference book examines the three pounds of matter inside our heads that does all our thinking for us. With 100 billion nerve cells joined by thousands more to every corner of the body, the brain is wired together with 100 trillion connections. That makes each and every human brain a contender for the most complex system in the universe, endowing us with an intellect that far outstrips any other creature. However, one difficult question remains: Are we intelligent enough to understand our own brains? Readers will follow the history of neuroscience as the greatest brains, including Avicenna, Thomas Willis, Charles Darwin, and Paul Broca, try to figure it out by linking structure to function. How does the brain control the body, make sense of our surroundings, and allow us to understand, empathize with, and love other people and their brains? And how does it create that most mysterious feature of the universe, consciousness? "The Brain: An Illustrated History of Neuroscience" is comprised of 100 chronological articles tell the story of neuroscience from the dawn of history to the present day; presents an authoritative text, exciting imagery, and helpful diagrams accompany each of the steps along the way; includes biographies of great neuroscientists and a functional map of the brain boost the content for all readers; and in the format of a simple guide to neuroscience draws together current understanding and sets out the basics of the field. A 24-page removable foldout concertina neatly housed at the back of the book includes a 12-page Timeline History of the Brain and 12 pages of optical illusions that demonstrate how our view of the world comes entirely from the brain which can sometimes be fooled.

Critique: Impressively written, organized and presented so as to be of immense interest to academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of neuroscience and how the human brain works, "The Brain: An Illustrated History of Neuroscience" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections.

How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter
Jonathan N. Barron
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826220578, $60.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Robert Frost stood at the intersection of nineteenth-century romanticism and twentieth-century modernism and made both his own. Frost adapted the genteel values and techniques of nineteenth-century poetry, but in "How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter", Jonathan N. Barron (Director of the Robert Frost Society and editor of "The Robert Frost Review") argues that it was Frost's commitment to realism that gave him popular as well as scholarly appeal and created his enduring legacy. This highly researched consideration of Frost investigates early innovative poetry that was published in popular magazines from 1894 to 1915 and reveals a voice of dissent that anticipated "The New Poetry" – a voice that would come to dominate American poetry as few others have.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, Jonathan Barron's "How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter" is an inherently fascinating read and a "must" for all Robert Frost enthusiasts and academics. A master piece of seminal scholarship, "How Robert Frost Made Realism Matter" should be considered an essential addition to both community and academic library American Literature reference collections.

Introduction to Abstract Algebra
Jonathan D. H. Smith
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498731614, $89.95, 352pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly updated and expanded second edition, "Introduction to Abstract Algebra" by academician Jonathan D. H. Smith (Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa) presents abstract algebra as the main tool underlying discrete mathematics and the digital world. It avoids the usual groups first/rings first dilemma by introducing semigroups and monoids, the multiplicative structures of rings, along with groups. This new edition of "Introduction to Abstract Algebra" covers applications from biology, science, and engineering. It offers numerous updates based on feedback from first edition adopters, as well as improved and simplified proofs of a number of important theorems. Many new exercises have been added, while new study projects examine skewfields, quaternions, and octonions.

The first three chapters of the book show how functional composition, cycle notation for permutations, and matrix notation for linear functions provide techniques for practical computation. These three chapters provide a quick introduction to algebra, sufficient to exhibit irrational numbers or to gain a taste of cryptography. Chapters four through seven cover abstract groups and monoids, orthogonal groups, stochastic matrices, Lagrange's theorem, groups of units of monoids, homomorphisms, rings, and integral domains. The first seven chapters provide basic coverage of abstract algebra, suitable for a one-semester or two-quarter course.

Each chapter includes exercises of varying levels of difficulty, chapter notes that point out variations in notation and approach, and study projects that cover an array of applications and developments of the theory. The final chapters deal with slightly more advanced topics, suitable for a second-semester or third-quarter course. These chapters delve deeper into the theory of rings, fields, and groups. They discuss modules, including vector spaces and abelian groups, group theory, and quasigroups.

As a curriculum textbook "Introduction to Abstract Algebra" is suitable for use in an undergraduate course on abstract algebra for mathematics, computer science, and education majors, along with students from other STEM fields.

Critique: A complete course of instruction under one cover, "Introduction to Abstract Algebra" is a standard text that should be a part of every community and academic library Mathematics reference collection in general, and Algebraic Studies supplemental reading in particular. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in higher mathematics, it should be noted that "Introduction to Abstract Algebra" is also available in a Kindle edition ($71.99).

Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource
Clay Routledge
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781848725171, $49.95, 158pp,

Synopsis: Nostalgia is a something that most people are familiar with, but, until recently, few social scientists understood. Once even viewed as a kind of mental disease, nostalgia is now considered to be an important psychological resource. Nostalgia involves revisiting personally cherished memories that involve close others. When people engage in nostalgia, they experience a boost in positive psychological states such as positive mood, feelings of social connectedness, self-esteem, self-continuity, and perceptions of meaning in life. Since nostalgia promotes these positive states, when people experience negative states (such as loneliness or meaninglessness), they use nostalgia to regulate distress. "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource" by Clay Routledge (a leading expert in the psychology of nostalgia and experimental existential psychology) explains in detail what nostalgia is, how views of it have changed over time, and how it has been studied by social scientists. "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource" explores issues like how common nostalgia is and whether people differ in their tendency to be nostalgic. It looks at the triggers and inspiration for nostalgia, and the emotional states that are associated with it. Finally, the psychological, social, and behavioral effects of engaging in nostalgia are discussed. "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource" provides the most comprehensive overview to date of the social scientific research into the complex and intriguing phenomenon of nostalgia. It will be of interest to a range of students and researchers in psychology and beyond, and its accessible writing style and engaging anecdotes will also be appreciated by a wider, non-academic audience.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and presented, "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource" is enhanced with the inclusion of seventeen page list of References and a fourteen page Index. A model of scholarship for academia and yet thoroughly reader friendly for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in psychology, "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Psychology reference collection and supplemental studies reading lists. It should also be noted that "Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource" is available in a Kindle edition ($43.90) for personal and professional reading lists.

The Erotics/Gun the Dame Down/Angry Arnold
Gil Brewer
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586885, $20.95, 286pp,

Synopsis: Gil Brewer was born Nov. 20, 1922 in Canandaigua, NY. After leaving the army at the end of WWII, he joined his family who had settled in St. Petersburg, Florida. There he met Verlaine in 1947 and married her soon after. Brewer started by writing serious novels, but soon turned to paperback originals after a sale to Gold Medal Books in 1950. At his height, he was a brilliant writer of sharply defined noir thrillers, usually involving a male protagonist driven to crime by the sexual allure of a young siren. But unwilling to promote himself, his career took a turn for the worse after a mental breakdown, and a long decline into alcoholism. Brewer died on Jan. 9, 1983. This Stark House Press edition of "The Erotics/Gun the Dame Down/Angry Arnold" is comprised of three previously unpublished novels from this master of sexy, frantic action thrillers. In "The Erotics" a disgraced artist is framed for murder. In "Gun the Dame Down" a private detective is hired as the perfect patsy. In "Angry Arnold" a serial killer stalks the Florida streets.

Critique: Now back in print for the edification of a whole new generation of appreciative readers, "The Erotics/Gun the Dame Down/Angry Arnold" clearly showcases the impressive storytelling talents Gil Brewer, a true master of the noir mystery genre. This edition of "The Erotics/Gun the Dame Down/Angry Arnold" is strongly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections and the personal reading lists of noir mystery enthusiasts.

Car Safety Wars
Michael R. Lemov
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9781611477450, $85.00, 284pp,

Synopsis: "Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" by Michael R. Lemov (who served as General Counsel of the National Commission on Product Safety and Chief Counsel of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Commerce Committee) is a gripping history of the hundred-year struggle to improve the safety of American automobiles and save lives on the highways. Described as the "equivalent of war" by the Supreme Court, the battle involved the automobile industry, unsung and long-forgotten safety heroes, at least six US Presidents, a reluctant Congress, new auto technologies, and, most of all, the mind set of the American public: would they demand and be willing to pay for safer cars? The "Car Safety Wars" were at first won by consumers and safety advocates. The major victory was the enactment in 1966 of a ground breaking federal safety law. The safety act was pushed through Congress over the bitter objections of car manufacturers by a major scandal involving General Motors, its private detectives, Ralph Nader, and a gutty cigar-chomping old politician. The act is a success story for government safety regulation. It has cut highway death and injury rates by over seventy percent in the years since its enactment, saving more than two million lives and billions of taxpayer dollars. But the car safety wars have never ended. GM has recently been charged with covering up deadly defects resulting in multiple ignition switch shut offs. Toyota has been fined for not reporting fatal unintended acceleration in many models. Honda and other companies have for years sold cars incorporating defective air bags. These current events, suggesting a failure of safety regulation, may serve to warn us that safety laws and agencies created with good intentions can be corrupted and strangled over time. "Car Safety Wars" suggests ways to avoid this result, but shows that safer cars and highways are a hard road to travel. We are only part of the way home.

Critique: The current scandal involving Volkswagen continue to hammer home the necessity for governmental oversight of the automotive industry. "Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" is an exceptionally well written, organized and presented history that is comprehensive, detailed, informed and informative. Of interest to scholars and non-specialist general readers alike, "Car Safety Wars" is strongly recommended for both community and academic library Automotive History and Social Issues reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Car Safety Wars" is also available in a paperback edition (9781611477474, $49.99), and in a Kindle format ($26.99).

The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home
John Peragine
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781620230046, $14.99, 288pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly revised and updated second edition, "The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply" is packed from cover to cover with pertinent information and 'user friendly' instructions that carefully walks every potential winemaker through every process necessary in creating and enjoying wine from the comfort of their own home. From the basics of distillation to the ingredients used, homemade wine can be on the table and wowing family and guests in no time. Aspiring winemakers will learn the basics, starting with the wide array of ingredients available to them, including grapes and berries. The basic aspects of all red wines and white wines are covered, so novice winemakers fully understand how the body and bouquet of each wine is supposed to taste and feel. "The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home" covers how the grapes are pressed and how long to wait between the pressing, the addition of other ingredients, and the bottling of the wine. More than 100 winemakers, winery owners, and home wine experts were interviewed to gain a general overview of how wine making is done, with details about the difference between each wine, the right mixture of ingredients, the better wine taste, and the testing and trying of new things in each bottle. Beginner winemakers will learn how to measure and affect the sulfur dioxide levels in their wine and ultimately how to take control of every aspect of their wines, from taste to dryness to odor and color. Everything any winemaker could possibly want to know about wine making and much more is presented in this complete guide for anyone with an eye for the hobby.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, ""The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply" is as practical and comprehensive as it is authoritative and reliable. A complete course of instruction in wine making under one cover, "The Complete Guide to Making Your Own Wine at Home" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Maggid Books
c/o The Toby Press LLC
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776-8531
9781592644322, $24.95, 348pp,

Synopsis: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is one of the world s leading Jewish thinkers and moral voices of our time. Educated at Cambridge University and Jews College London, he served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 until 2013. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought, his work has included a new English translation and commentary for the Koren Sacks Siddur, the first new Orthodox siddur in a generation, as well as powerful commentaries for the Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, and Pesa Ma zorim. "Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible" is the companion volume to his celebrated series "Covenant & Conversation", in which Rabbi Jonathan Sacks mines the weekly Torah portions for insights into the nature of power, authority, and leadership. Based on the understanding that no man is born a leader, "Lessons in Leadership" explores the principles, and perils, of becoming one. Profound, eloquent, and deeply inspiring, "Lessons in Leadership" reveals the biblical secrets of influence, as relevant now as they were three thousand years ago.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible" should be considered essential reading for anyone aspiring to, or already challenged with, a leadership role in either the synagogue or the world at large. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone and content, "Lessons in Leadership" will prove to be an enduringly popular and practical addition to synagogue and academic library Judaic Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Lessons in Leadership" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Varro the Agronomist
Grant A. Nelsestuen
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall
1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814212912, $16.95, 344pp,

Synopsis: Some six years after his narrow escape from proscription in 43 BCE, Marcus Terentius Varro, the "most learned" of the Romans, wrote a technical treatise on farming in the form of a satirico-philosophical dialogue. In "Varro the Agronomist: Political Philosophy, Satire, and Agriculture in the Late Republic", Grant A. Nelsestuen (Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison) persuasively argues that far from simply being just another encyclopedic entry of a seemingly aloof antiquarian or offering an escapist's retreat into rustication, Varro's De Re Rustica uses the model of the farm to craft an implicitly political treatise that grapples with multifarious challenges facing the contemporary Roman world. On one level, Varro's treatise presents an innovative account of the Roman farm, which rationalizes new agricultural and pastoral opportunities for contemporary elite owners of large-scale estates. But on another level, this bold agronomical vision associates the farm's different spheres with distinct areas under Roman control, thereby allegorizing Rome's empire on the model of a farm. Professor Nelsestuen ably argues that Varro's treatise thus provides his contemporaries with a model for governing the Roman state, anticipates Augustus' subsequent transformation of Roman dominion into a coherent territorial state, and offers an ancient theory of imperialism.

Critique: An impressively written, organized, and presented work of seminal scholarship, "Varro the Agronomist: Political Philosophy, Satire, and Agriculture in the Late Republic" is enhanced with the inclusion of six appendices, a twenty-two page Bibliography, an eight page Index Locorum, and a thirty-five page General Index. Simply stated, "Varro the Agronomist" is a significant contribution to the study of Roman History and very highly recommended as a core addition to academic library Roman History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Varro the Agronomist" is also available in a MultiMedia CD format ($14.95).

The Book Of Holy Medicines
Henry of Grosmont, author
Catherine Batt, translator
Arizona State University
PO Box 874402, Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
9780866984676, $65.00, 328pp,

Synopsis: Henry of Grosmont, first Duke of Lancaster, cousin and friend of Edward III, was a soldier, statesman, and diplomat. His Book of Holy Medicines of 1354, an astonishing composition by a secular nobleman, is a classic of penitential thinking and intense spirituality that has never been available in a full translation. Catherine Batt's sensitive and profoundly informed translation into modern English brings to life the work's allegorical account of the wounds of sin and its meditative processes of healing. Her annotations and substantial introduction place the text within the political, literary, and discursive networks of later fourteenth-century England and its multilingual culture, and they open up important new literary connections in England and on the continent, where Lancaster spent much of his career. His magnum opus, "The Book Of Holy Medicines", is now accessible to modern English-speaking readers as a classic of medieval spirituality and lay writing alongside the works of Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Book Of Holy Medicines" is enhanced with the inclusion of a list of abbreviations, a ten page appendix (Extracts from the 'Livre de seyniz medicines), a thirty page Index of Bible References, and a one page Index of Proper Names in Text. Catherine Batt's translation of Henry of Grosmont's "The Book Of Holy Medicines" is a truly impressive contribution to academic library Anglo/Norman Literature reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Gospel According To Heretics
David E. Wilhite
Baker Academic
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780801039768, $22.95, 304pp,

Synopsis: Since what Christian doctrine denies can be as important as what it affirms, it is important to understand teachings about Jesus that the early church rejected. Historians now acknowledge that proponents of alternative teachings were not so much malicious malcontents as they were misguided or even misunderstood. David E. Wilhite (Associate Professor of Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, Waco, Texas) is a recognized expert in early Christian theology and teaches orthodox Christology by explaining the false starts (heresies), making the history of theology relevant for today's church. "The Gospel According To Heretics: Discovering Orthodoxy Through Early Christological Conflicts" engaging introduction to the Christological heresies is suitable for beginning seminary students. In addition, pastors and the laity will find it useful for apologetic purposes.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Gospel According To Heretics: Discovering Orthodoxy Through Early Christological Conflicts" is an inherently fascinating study for both scholars and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history and development of the early Christian communities following the death of Jesus. Enhanced with the inclusion of a twenty-four page Bibliography and a twenty-three page Index, "The Gospel According To Heretics" is a masterpiece of theological scholarship and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community, church, seminary, and academic library Christian Theology reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Gospel According To Heretics" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Alif 35
Amy Motlagh
American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018-2729
9789774167034, $24.95, 500pp,

Synopsis: Besides the three mainstream languages, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, other languages such as Kurdish and Amazigh (Berber) have contributed to the rich literary tapestry of the Islamic Middle East. Vernacular poetry and folk tales, standardized Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, as well as literary works by Middle Easterners in different European languages offer a complex regional literary field. While comparative work among the "classical" traditions of these literatures is undertaken without comment, scholarship on their modern traditions is suspended between the exigencies of imperialism, nationalism, and academic parochialism. "Alif 35: New Paradigms in the Study of Modern 'Middle Eastern' Literatures" is devoted to the exploration of those persistent ties and affinities, as well as to the attempt to recover and discover new or enduring linkages between literatures, languages, and cultures in a world where they are largely forgotten or willfully ignored.

Critique: Knowledgeably compiled and expertly edited by Amy Motlagh (Associate Professor and currently the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo), "Alif 35: New Paradigms in the Study of Modern 'Middle Eastern' Literatures" is a exemplary model of contemporary scholarship and a critically important addition to professional and academic library Islamic Literature, Islamic Linguistics, and Middle Eastern Culture reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Jack Mason

Peggy's Bookshelf

Plotted: A Literary Atlas
Andrew DeGraff and Daniel Harmon
c/o Zest Books
35 Stillman Street, Suite 12, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781936976867, $24.99, 128 pages,

A great story inspires the imagination of the reader. In the mind of artist Andrew DeGraff, a great story inspires mapmaking. DeGraff's conceptualization of story via mapmaking – as in the mythic structure of story as the hero's journey – was what initially piqued my interest in this book. "Plotted: A Literary Atlas" contains maps of 19 classical works of literature that seemed to be chosen for what each reveals about humankind during the era in which it was written.

Like the literature these maps are based on, each map is a work of art full of brilliant colors, stark contrasts, and unforgettable images. The maps trace the characters' journeys, be they Odysseus' long way home to Ithaca or Hamlet's descent into madness behind the castle walls of Elsinore. Not all of these are maps in the true sense of the word. Melville's "Moby Dick" is illustrated with diagrams of the Pequod and the whale, while Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" comically depicts Vladimir and Estragon as empty conversation bubbles huddled in a reddish-orange void.

Because of the uniqueness of each map, it is impossible to pick favorites. But readers will likely discover an emotional connection to those maps created from their favorite stories. For me the cosmic map of L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" comes eerily close to how I imagine the power of the tesseract enabled the Murry children to leap from one dimension to the next without the aid of a joystick. And Borges' "The Library of Babel" map of exponentially expanding hexagons filled with bookshelves recalled my own fascination with libraries as a child.

What is most striking about these maps is how they not only portray the main elements of story -- setting, plot, characters, conflict and theme – but also the tone and mood, all of which is in keeping with DeGraff's objective to depict the essence of what each story is about. And just as imagination draws readers into a good story, DeGraff's maps, assisted by editor Daniel Harmon's essays, lure readers into another literary dimension that is as challenging as it is satisfying. "Plotted: A Literary Atlas" opens an intriguing portal for readers to get lost in a good book.

Holiday Parade: A Christmas Adult Coloring Book
Blue Star Coloring
9781941325513, $8.99, 64 pages,

Stress-relieving adult coloring books are the hot new trend this year. If you have been thinking about trying one of the many on the market, there's no better time than the holiday season. But how do you choose the best coloring book for you? A sampler is a great way to try out a variety of artists while at the same time help you determine your likes and dislikes with the whole coloring experience. Blue Star's new seasonal sampler, "Holiday Parade" features 24 different holiday-themed designs by 24 artists. All of the artists either have coloring books published or soon to be published with Blue Star. From graphics, to anime, to stained glass, cartoon, folk art and fantasy, there is artwork to please anyone's preference. Be sure to sharpen your colored pencils because each unique holiday scene contains plenty of intricate, stress-relieving patterns. The coloring pages are one-sided so you can cut them out to color and display. Treat yourself or a friend to "Holiday Parade: A Christmas Adult Coloring Book."

An Invisible Thread Christmas Story
Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski, authors
Barry Root, illustrator
Little Simon
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481419307, $17.99, 32 pages,

"An Invisible Thread Christmas Story" is the picture book version of Laura Schroff's bestselling memoir, "An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny." As the title alludes to, this is the true story of an unlikely friendship between Laura, a young professional woman, and Maurice, a hungry little boy, that began one day on a busy New York street. In this version, narrated from Maurice's point-of-view, he not only tells the story of his first Christmas with Laura but he also shares with readers his true feelings about their friendship when he was a young child. Kindness and generosity are appropriate holiday themes and reading about the joy Maurice felt sharing Christmas with Laura's family shows readers how the invisible thread of kindness can change people's lives, without being heavy-handed or preachy. Root's city life and Christmas scenes in rich, colorful pencil and watercolor are reminiscent of classic Christmas stories. "An Invisible Thread Christmas Story" is the perfect story to invite a heart-warming feeling into your holiday season.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

Bibi & Babu in Peru: Volume 2 (Bibi & Babu Travel Series)
Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen
Whistler House Publishing
c/o Signalman Publishing
3700 Commerce Blvd., Kissimmee, FL 34741
9781940145488, $16.99, 72 Pages,

Language: English
Genre: Children

After Bibi and Babu [Grandma and Grandpa in Swahili] enjoyed their adventures so much in Africa they decided to visit Peru, and I for one am very glad that they did.

What a wonderful book this is. Everyone has heard of the incredible temple of Machu Picchu, the amazing Lake Titicaca, and the enormous geoglyphs which can only be seen via satellite. But how did they come to be there, who made them, and when? Well scientists still have many questions to answer, however, in the meantime Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen, in their unique storytelling way decide to discover as much as they can for themselves. So, in November 2014 they took a plane to Lima and started their adventure.

Their journey of discovery began by visiting the incredible Larco Museum, in Lima, which houses an amazing collection of ceramics, textiles and artefacts, all beautifully displayed. Lucky for us, they took plenty of pictures, because from this visit we are able to see and understand the importance of all the gold and silver body ornaments which were worn by the Inca nobility.

They then visited the former capital of Peru, Cusco and visited its beautiful buildings, and the fortress-temple Saqsaywaman (pronounced Sexy Woman), which was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. There are some amazing photos of visitors standing next to the enormous stones, which beg the unanswered question as to how did the Inca's all those years ago managed to get them into place, and know to position them in such a way that they have withstood earthquakes? Are the ancient legends correct, what do you think? You will have to read the book to discover what these legends are. Whilst they were there, they even managed to learn the difference between Llamas and Alpacas.

Then, their travels then took them on the luxurious Perurail Vistadome train to the magical site of Machu Picchu, which rises over 6,000 feet above the Urubamba River. Steeped in history and hidden from the outside world for many years, this wonderfully preserved national monument was a sight to behold.

Their last trip was to Lake Titicaca, its incredible floating islands, and Taquile island. It is even possible to discover in this very interesting book, how the floating islands are made, who lives on them, and the incredible properties of the Totora (Reed) both as homes, boats, souvenirs and as a medicine.

Although aimed at a young audience, I have to say that I loved this book. It is so well written and totally absorbing. Not only does it contain plenty of colourful pictures of this amazing couple's travels, and the wonderful sites they have seen, it opens up the people, history, life and customs of the wonderful country of Peru.

One way ticket to Brittany, France: Everything you didn't know you needed to know about moving to Brittany
Jenny Lovett
Self Published
B017MDI2ZW, $3.07, 86 Pages

Language: English
Genre: Travel

Nothing beats experience, and Jenny Lovett, the author of this book has just that. It is a goldmine of information covering practically everything you need to know about moving and settling down in Brittany.

It is quite common for house purchases in other countries to be carried out without proper research. Here in France, it is very easy for the heart to overtake the head when the opportunity to purchase a beautiful property at a cheap price becomes possible. Yet purchasing the right property is an art in itself, very often not enough thought is given as to what is really wanted, or how practical the property will be a few years down the line. However with this book as your guide you should be well prepared for all the little things which make moving to France so unique.

Personally I love the way that the author has added all those little bits of information which no-one thinks to tell you, like nowhere is open on Sunday, so if you arrive late Saturday night you better have some food with you, for a start, and many more priceless little bits you need to know.

The book, as the title says, is based on buying a property in Brittany, because this is where the author's experience lies, however, I have to say, living in another part of France, that the information it contains would be useful to anyone considering moving over here.

I am Beautiful: When I Look at Me, I See...
Simone Da Costa
Da Costa's Empire Publishing
Language: English
9780987925596, $14.99, 34 Pages

Genre: Children

How beautiful! This book is surely be a must for young black girls throughout the world.

The author, Simone Da Costa has captured all the most beautiful and empowering elements of what it is like to be a black girl. Through the wonderful illustrations of Hatice Bayramoglu the true beauty of being black is celebrated. The different skin tones, hair types and styles, the cultural differences which make for the facial differences and variation in bone structure, depending on where in the world they originated, and most importantly, this book is so inspiring, a true confirmation of the beauty of a black girl.

A wonderful book and a great way to promote self-esteem, and instil the confidence that knowing you are beautiful naturally brings.

Available from Amazon

The Lazy Cook (Book 2): Quick And Easy Sweet Treats
Susie Kelly
Blackbird Digital Books
9780993307058, $10.99 - 62 Pages

Genre: Cookbooks
Language: English

Susie Kelly has always been one of my favourite author's and so when she wrote her first cook book The Lazy Cook (Book One): Quick And Easy Meatless Meals I could not wait to read it. Since then I have tried and enjoyed many of the recipes it contains. Therefore, when I saw its sequel The Lazy Cook (Book 2): Quick and Easy Sweet Treats I couldn't wait to download it.

This book is a must for everyone who loves deserts. I enjoy cooking and am quite happy to slave over a stove for a long time, if necessary to make a special desert, however, I could not believe how many quick and easy deserts there are. Inside this amazing book you will find pages of recipes, some using only a couple of ingredients and many which can be made a day or so in advance.

The classic Eaton Mess which can be made in moments, light and tempting deserts which can be whipped up in minutes and others like the evil Malakoff which look incredible, but are really quite simple and quick to prepare. Included is also a wonderful ice-cream recipe which has variations to suit any taste. To complete this gem of a book, the author has also included hot deserts, sweets, baking recipes and even some delicious drinks.

I for one am looking forward to experimenting with these tempting recipes at every opportunity I get.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

The Upstate Boys
Ofer Aronskind
Amazon Digital Publishing
1511812923, $12.99, 342 pages,


Life has never been easy for John "Shep" Shepherd. As an orphan he learned the hard way of what consisted of living a life on the street. He ends up on the wrong side of the tracks and finds himself detained in a juvenile detention center in upstate New York.

There life becomes a means of survival. He is forced to work hard labor and suffering beating on a regular basis. Fed up with the unhuman treatment he is receiving he and a group of inmates plot to escape.

Will Shep manage to lead his motley crew out of the pits of hell? Or will his plan be foiled? Will their lives be in danger? Will they live to find the freedom they seek?

THE UPSTATE BOYS provides a high action drama that is assured to be one of your best reads of this year. Each characters have their own agenda and purpose. The emotional impact that is felt when you read this book is overwhelming.

Ofer Aronskind is an outstanding author. He has written a book that is assured to keep anyone glued to their seat. I was highly impressed with his writing style. I can see how his talent comes alive in each passage. This is the first book I have read from him, but I don't want it to be my last. He is an author I highly recommend.

The Suffering of Innocents
Marc Zirogiannis
Revival Waves of Glory Books & Publishing
PO Box 596, Litchfield, IL 62056
9780692483619, $12.99, Paperback, 82 pages,

Sam and Laura Job life is filled with much happiness and contentment. They have a strong marriage, wonderful children, and financial secure jobs. They feel blessed to have achieved such a state of happiness.

Then in a blink of an eye their life changes drastically when tragedy strikes. Will their faith be strong enough to help them overcome this obstacle? Or will their perfect world shatter before their eyes?

THE SUFFERING OF INNOCENTS is one outstanding book. The emotional impact this one book delivers will make a dramatic addition to your reading collection. I found many times while I was reading this book that I stopped, reflected, and then became humble as I seem one families perfect world be destroyed.

March Zirogiannis is an author whose words have made a big impression upon me with this first book. I found that his writing style delivers a deep, intense reading experience. He is an author that I predict will make a dramatic impact to the literary world.

Unexpected Assets (Texas Hill Country Book 6)
Emily Mims
Boroughs Publishing Group
B00ZLYTBNC, $2.99 Kindle
9781942886495, $6.25 PB, 120pp,


Contemporary Romance

U.S. Army veteran Jason Donahue had been injured in Iraq three years ago. The face he was born with was no more; in its place he now wears a patchwork of scars and burns. He endured countless surgeries and months of rehab before he was released from the hospital to start a new life.

When Emily Riley first meets Jason she is not put off by his scarred image. Instead she is able to see past the destruction and find a heart and soul that is beautiful. It takes patience to convince him that she is able to accept him for the man he has become, for beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Jason can't believe that a stunning redhead as Emily could look twice at him. He knows what he lacks in looks that he is determined to make up with it by providing her a solid financial future. With his job and college degree he is ready to start his future building a house.

Emily takes their relationship to a new level by inviting Jason to meet her family for Thanksgiving. When the reunion brings out secrets of Emily's past will the love they share be strong enough to withhold what is revealed?

UNEXPECTED ASSETS is an outstanding book. I was blown away by the emotional impact that it added to my reading pleasure. Jason and Emily are both wounded in their own ways. Jason scars are more visual where Emily's are locked away internally. Within a few pages I fell in love with both of these memorable characters.

Emily Mims has written an exceptional story. The realism that she shown had me questing if I was reading fact or fiction. Her writing style is one that has made me an instantaneous fan. I feel this book has made a great impact to the literally world. I look forward to seeing more of her addictive work to come.

Technology Report Writing
Susan Louise Peterson
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B016Z5GEKS, $9.99 Kindle, 78 pages,

Technology report writing has become a popular topic to create college papers. This book is a wonderful outlet to jumpstart your critical thinking on subjects that relate to technology. Technology changes rapidly and it is crucial that the topic selected is still applicable.

This book provides an in-depth look at defining technology. It then devotes entire sections to the following topics:

Technology Report Problem Areas
Technology Report Writing Skills
Practical Technology Reports
Technology Issue Reports
Writing Technology Curriculum
Technology Portfolio Writing

What I found so helpful with each section is the short introduction paragraph that explains the topic. I felt this was an added benefit that would help a student stop and think if this was the way they wanted to guide their research.

TECHNOLOGY REPORT WRITING is an outstanding reference book. I feel that if used properly it would make any term paper assignment have the solid foundation to build a strong research paper. With each of Susan Louise Peterson's titles you can rest assured that she has done the research required that will allow anyone to write a winning paper.

Susan Louise Peterson has once again convinced me that she is an expert when it comes to report writing. I find with each book that has been written by her she has done the extensive research which is needed to help open a person's mind to fresh new topics. I feel by using this books knowledge that any paper that is written from one of her suggested topics will receive a much better grade. I highly recommend her books to any college student. I often wish that I would have found this author when I was obtaining my own degree.

Paths of Fear
Connie Kerbs
F.I.N.E. Reads Press
B017Z1E0T8, $3.99, 349 pages,


"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Webster defines fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is an emotion that each of us has experienced. No one person on earth is immune to its touch. How we choose to react to this feeling it causes is what lends strength to our existence.

Throughout the pages of this book fear is shown in-depth through the stories and poems of triumph, victory, and acceptance. Each one of these offerings showcases how fear has entered into the writer's life and how they were strong enough to overcome its presence.

PATHS OF FEAR: AN ANTHOLOGY OF OVERCOMING THROUGH COURAGE, INSPIRATION, AND THE MIRACLE OF LOVE is an outstanding book. I found myself glued to the pages in anticipation of what was to come next. I found each offering that was contained in this book providing an enriching reading experience.

Connie Kerbs is to be applauded on her creation of such a magnificent creation. I ranked this book up there in the same category as the much beloved Chicken Soup for the Soul for I found that I gained the same sense of warmth as each story reached out and touched my heart. To say that I was impressed with this author is an understatement.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

The Grove
John Rector
Typhon Media Corporation
9781600815348, $6.99, 255 pages,

Dexter McCray has many things he wants to forget and many things he just can't remember. That happens when you still feel the loss of your own child dying. His daughter was killed while riding her bicycle. Added to that, now he has alcoholic blackouts added to his everyday challenges.

Fortunately for Dexter, he has a longtime friend, Greg. Greg understands Dexter's challenges and tries to help him which can be difficult being that he is also the sheriff.

Not surprising, his marriage is also troubled. His wife, Liz was at the house last night. She tried to move out. Dexter's reaction was to threaten her with a gun.

After speaking with Liz, Greg wisely appeared at Dexter's house the next morning and took the clip from his gun. Even though it angers Dexter, he does understand Greg's reasoning.

Dexter's memory is foggy about the previous evening. Did he have another blackout?

The Sheriff asks about the location of his tractor. It's gone.

As Dexter begins to search, he notices that tractor seems to have been backed into a ravine next to the grove by the field.

Greg, the Sheriff, offers to help pull it out. No, Dexter will get it out by himself. He know that it is likely in the mud and if it rains, he will never be able to move it. Even understanding this, he knows that he needs to do himself.

While working hard, Dexter manages to free one of the back tires. Freeing the other tire results in a broken board and blood. As he looks for another rock or board to use as a brace, he notices a few empty beer cans in the grove and then a purse. Naturally he looks inside to discover that it is owned by Jessica Cammon who is sixteen years old. A little further on, he finds her body.

He has no memory of last night but is fairly certain that he had not seen her. Or did this happen during a blackout? Is he responsible for her death? What did he really do last night?

With his history, he does not feel like he can report this to Greg.

Can Dexter find her killer? Is he the killer? Dexter knows that he is the only one that he trusts enough to find the answers. Can he trust himself to do the right thing? When should he tell Greg?

The Grove is a haunting tale with well-developed and realistic characters. The character of Dexter is remarkable human with the reader really understanding and sympathizing while at the same time wanting to kick him. The story revolves around his daily routine, slowly revealing much of his past and his relationships.

The story is fast-paced, well-organized, logical and developed into a page turner that moves at a racing pace.

John Rector is an Omaha author whose books have become bestsellers with The Cold Kiss, Out of the Black and recently Ruthless.

Who would enjoy this novel? Anyone who enjoys intense, realistic mysteries and thrillers would thoroughly dive into The Grove accompanying the daily challenges of Dexter McCray.

Night Heron
Adam Brookes
Redhook Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316399845, $15.00, 416 pages

"I will not tell anyone that you sold sexual favors in a labor reform facility."

Most people have heard of the horror stories about life inside a Chinese prison. Not many people survive life inside and even fewer share their experiences inside the prison. Few people leave these facilities alive and that attempted escapes are rare, if ever successful.

It seems that many of the prisoners are not hardened criminals but idealists who are a threat to the governmental authorities. Spying or a threat of spying is not unusual. Speaking out for your beliefs is not commonly tolerated in many places throughout the world.

Peanut is one of these unfortunate prisoners. His real name is Li Huasheng who was an up-and-coming engineer living in Beijing who did sell his country's technology secrets to the U.K. The support for Peanut was pulled when he attacked a soldier during the Tiananmen Square protests.

However he has a special talent for survival. Each day he plays the game of being hard-working and obedient while secretly planning his possible escape, looking for the weaknesses in the system that could be opportunities for him.

Wisely he knows how to search out those people who are the most vulnerable and the most likely to help him, those who live on the edge of society.

Twenty-years ago, Peanut spied for the British. After living in a prison all this time, he knows that it is time for him to leave. Through years of observing and planning, he successfully escapes the confines of the prison encampment and somewhat surprising, he is not diligently pursued. Obviously the authorities do not believe anyone can survive the night in the winter desert area of northwest China.

Imagine his surprise when he arrives in Beijing. How does anyone survive in the city after being away so long? Who will help him? How can he contact his MI6 paymaster from years ago? Are his secrets still valuable to be rescued? What is his future?

Adam Brookes has been a foreign correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation serving in China, Indonesia, the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea and numerous other countries. He currently resides in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Night Heron is an enthralling tale of life in a place and situation that is unique. Imagine anyone, even in this country attempting to understand the technological world after being isolated for twenty years.

Peanut is a fascinating character with the reader accompanying him with every choice, sometimes frustrated or triumphant, and irritated that you can't assist him a little more.

Night Heron is a wonderful novel that open everyone's eyes to a much wider world.

The Children Act
Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385539708, $25.00, Hardcover, 221 pages

"When a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child...the child's welfare shall be the court's paramount consideration."

Even though this is a quote from Section 1(A) of The Children Act of 1989 in Great Britain, very similar laws, rules, procedures values and ethics exist in much of the world. Even though this novel deals with the British legal system, it is relevant in the United States. The actual name of the number and the act might differ, but the ideas are the same.

Changes in society cause numerous problems for families.

For High Court judge, Fiona Maye this idea of change also applies to her life. In her early years of being married to Jack, she expected to have children. That never happened.

Now Jack wants to have an affair which a much younger woman, one who can be passionate. She is not passionate? Years of marriage and devotion is not passionate? Loyalty and devotion mean nothing? Does this mean divorce is next? Fiona has no idea how to fix her broken marriage.

A traditional Jewish family has two daughters. When their mother becomes educated, she causes changes in her family. The mother wanted the daughters to be sent to a coeducational Jewish secondary school exposing them to boys, the internet, pop music, fashion and today's culture. In this family, when the mother and father married, the mother was to stay at home to raise the children. The father wanted many children but due to the difficulty with the birth of the second daughter, the mother was not capable of bringing more children into the world. To compensate, this mother took classes at the local university and earned a degree to become a teacher. So who should raise the children?

A seventeen-year-old boy is dying. Due to his religion, his parents will not allow him to have a blood transfusion which can save his life. He believes his parents are correct. What is the right thing for a judge to do?

Ian McEwan is an award winning best-selling author. He has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the W.H. Smith Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award.

The Children Act takes place in England but the laws in this summer are similar. This story could take place anywhere and opens everyone to consider how our lives change and to question if the rules and laws of years ago will be relevant today.

A Box of Pandoras
Steve Brewer
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481807739, $12.99, 308 pages

Everyone has dreams.

Loretta Kimball is the wife of Harley who owns a hardware store in the rural community of Pandora, New Mexico. This is her hometown and she still has a few unpleasant memories from her high school days, but for the most part, Loretta is a content person.

What makes her passionate if being the founding president of the International Michael Girard Fan Club. Michael has been a leading actor for years and she has meticulously and carefully devoted endless hours to her idol as his most loyal fan.

Throughout the years, she has never neglected her obligation to this man of her dreams. Even from her rural home in Pandora, New Mexico, she has successfully maintained her loyalty via the computer and her website dedicated to her idol.

Her devoted and loving husband, Harley is extremely understanding and patient with this labor of love. He also is secure in their relationship.

A dream is about to happen for Loretta. She has the chance to meet this man who will be at a new film festival just a few hours away in Albuquerque. Even her ever-patient husband, Harley, plans to take a few days leave from his hardware store to accompany his wife. What could possibly go wrong?

First is a death with the most likely suspect being Michael Girard. Oh no, could the idol be a killer?

And then there is her high-school classmate who seems to be competing for Michael Girard's affection. It seems that there is a devious plan to upstage Loretta with every little act of devotion.

A Box of Pandoras is fun reading. This cozy tale is a light mystery, well-organized, with characters that are easy to visualize, understand and succeeds in making the reader a close friend to the protagonist.

Steve Brewer is a former journalist who has written over twenty novels while also teaching at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Who would enjoy this novel? Anyone who likes quick, fast-paced cozy mysteries would enjoy A Box of Pandoras even though it leans more towards a female readership. Sometimes you want to read something a little less intense, but fun. Read A Box of Pandoras.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
Julie Iromuanya
Coffee House Press
79 - 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1073
9781566893978, $16.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 292 pages

"So I must find my way back to my old dreams. And you must find your way to yours."

We all have dreams and perceptions of who we really are. If you believe you are someone, does that make you into your own personal perception? What about reality? Can you afford to be whomever you decide?

Job Ogbonnaya frequently lives his dreams, then there is reality. Job is a descendant of an

He came to America at the age of nineteen with dreams of becoming a doctor. His plan was to become a doctor, arrange to marry a wife from his home village in Nigeria, either have his wife become a nurse or start a family, get wealthy on the American dream sending money home, eventually return to Africa establishing a medical clinic and retiring there. As simple as that seems, there are many things which can go wrong?

After all, Job is the son of a chief. Since the death of his older brother, Job realizes that it is his obligation to fulfill his father's dreams. It might be fate that named him Job.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a unique creation combining dreams into reality and discovering that the two cannot easily coexist. Being one person in your daily life, another to your friends, another to those in a far away country and another in reality can be overwhelming, even to the ever patient, Job.

The problems and challenges of immigration is an underlying motivation throughout this novel. With bringing up the idea of marrying strictly for citizenship, the continual challenges of the immigrants is shown in a realistic light.

The prejudices revealed in Mr. and Mrs. Doctor are uncomfortably honest showing racism in many forms. By having this novel in the genre of African American, it is limiting the scope of the story which should be general fiction.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is the debut novel for Julie Iromuanya. She currently works as an assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University where she teaches Africana literature and creative writing. She earned her doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a well-written tale of an immigrant. What is refreshing in this novel based in the Omaha, Nebraska area is the honest realism in the character of Job who is attempting to constantly be someone else. This unique twist is what is special.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor surpasses genre limitations and is a brilliant debut novel for author Julie Iromuanya.

The Pocket Wife
Susan Crawford
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062362858, $25.99 hc / $11.99 pbk / $14.99 Kindle, 305 pages

Who is a pocket wife? Any wife who feels that she is as useful and wanted as forgotten loose change in a pocket, no longer practical, just a weight dragging down.

Unfortunately this is how Dana Catrell feels. Her husband is a tax lawyer and values her as much as loose change.

Years ago she was the one who was the one who was valued. She was the one who taught her husband to become the success that he is now.

So how does he show his appreciation? When he receives a phone call from his devoted and loving wife, he drops the phone into his pocket. There are obviously more important things than their relationship.

Dana has an additional problem. She is bipolar. She realizes that she has problems due to her mental illness, but daily works to keep herself balanced and well. Part of her problem is her memory lapses.

Dana's problem is her neighbor, Celia who was just murdered. Guess who is the only one with a key to Celia's house and who was probably the last one to see Celia alive? Could she have killed Celia? With a murder of her friend, the breakdown of her marriage and the mental illness, how does Dana discover these answers before the police arrest her for murder.

The Pocket Wife reveals the investigation into Celia's death through Dana. Dana knows that she is intelligent but fears trusting her husband or the police. She knows that her husband would quickly blame her for killing Celia, even though she believes that she is completely innocent. She even wonders if he had an affair with Celia which would give her a reason to be the murderer. She also cannot explain to the police that she is bipolar and while Celia was being killed, she had a blackout. She is fairly certain the police would not ignore that but target her as the most likely suspect.

Susan Crawford is a native of Florida. Through her adult life, she has lived in New York City, Boston, and now Atlanta with her husband, daughters, and cats. The Pocket Wife is Ms. Crawford' debut novel.

The Pocket Wife is a fast-paced page turner, well-panned with realistic characters that all mystery readers would enjoy.

The Bookseller
Cynthia Swanson
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062333001, $25.99, Hardcover, 339 pages

"My whole life, in these dreams, turns on an event that happened eight years ago."

Rene Descartes stated "I think, therefore I am." Does that mean then, if you can think of an existence, it exists?

That is the problem for Kitty Miller. She is an old maid, thirty-eight years old, never married, and part owner of a bookstore. Her life is consistent from day to day. It is safe. She is fairly content with her life until she begins to dream.

Each night these dreams place her in an alternate reality where she is Katharyn Andersson, wife and mother of triplets. During the day she is the bookseller Kitty. Every night when the dreams begin, more of her life as Katharyn continues. Living two lives can be exhausting.

It all started eight years ago. Kitty responded to a "lonely hearts" ad in a local Denver newspaper. She was to meet a young architect, Lars Andersson but he never showed up at the restaurant. So why is she dreaming of her life with Lars when in reality they never met? So how is it in her dreams that he sweeps her off her feet into another life?

Kitty's days are fairly calm but Katharyn's nights as a wife and mother of triplets with one having special needs can be overwhelming.

How could she be married to this man? Who are these children? Will Kitty/Katharyn be happy? Will she know what is real and what is a dream?

Author Cynthia Swanson has published short fiction and even was a Pushcart Prize nominee with her story 13th Moon. The Bookseller is her first novel.

The Bookseller in an intricately engaging novel forcing the reader to question reality and to begin to wonder whether Kitty/Katharyn in schizophrenic. The characterization is phenomenal with the reader feeling and reacting along this journey. This is an outstanding page turner that is aimed at a female audience but a story strong enough and engrossing, that all adult readers would enjoy this book.

The Bookseller blurs the lines between sanity and insanity, between dreams and reality.

Teri Davis

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

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