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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 12 December 2016 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Bethany's Bookshelf Bonnye's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson Bookshelf
Clint's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf Joshua's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Katherine's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Polk's Bookshelf Sloan's Bookshelf
Susan's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Thunder Below!
Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey
University of Illinois Press
1325 South Oak Street,Champaign, Illinois 61820-6903
9780252066702, $21.95, 444pp,

Karen Chutsky, Reviewer

I've read a slew of Submarine Commander memoirs and this one has to be the best!

It is part diary/part action adventure drama written with great heart, wit and reverence for the submariners that worked and sweated like well-oiled machines under his command and dared to do the missions of peril that kept the seas open to those in the South Pacific, while delivering blows to the German vessels trying to put a choke hold on the world.

What makes this account so special are the small personal vignettes Fluckey wove in; some compassionate, some touching, many times triumphal, and even comical, that make you feel as if you are serving right alongside the crew on the 'Barb's" missions.

Admiral Fluckey was one of those rare men who rose up as a leader of men, one of the most highly decorated veterans, a great wartime strategist and fly by the seat of your pants commander who knew when to bend the rules as needed, who was much beloved and respected by his men and higher-ups.

A book well-worth having in Library Collections for the Naval Wartime History. One of the high quality stand-out memoirs of WW II.

Angels: Part 1
Erin Lockwood
Book Baby
B01M71YVTT, $11.39

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

"A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you." - Elbert Hubbard

Author Erin Lockwood's novel 'Angels: A love story' introduces a close set of characters. This story is as old as life itself. When two people who are meant to be together - a fact that they both know, can't still get together, what happens? Drama!

Light, playful and yet heart wrenching at times - this is a novel for all the true romantics.

Cara and Sam are destined for each other, we know it the first time we meet them, and everyone else seems to know it as well. But life constantly interrupts and prevents them from taking the next step.

It doesn't help at all that Cara is in a codependent platonic relationship with Theo. Cara is forever the damsel in distress and Theo is the enabler who thrives on being needed all the time. When Sam enters the scene, it disrupts the equation between the two. But destiny is a funny thing, and by the time fate is done with these characters their lives will never be the same again.

This seems to be Erin Lockwood's first venture into YA, and by all accounts this is a sensational debut! Caralee Lee (roll your eyes now!) is a young woman who like countless others is struggling to stay afloat in a weak economy. She lives the independent life and is constantly juggling her work, relationship and friendships. She is also anxiety prone; possibly brought on by a traumatic event she witnessed, and she is in a borderline unhealthy relationship with a male friend with whom she faced the traumatic event. Needless to say, this leaves room for all sorts of narrative possibilities and the author has taken an interesting run with this.

This isn't your typical modern YA novel, although in the beginning it might give off that seen before-heard before kind of vibe. The more we read and the more we learn about Cara and Theo, you will realize that they are in many ways flawed characters and not some goody two-shoes kind. It is this initial phase that one has to get through patiently to enjoy the rest of the novel. This is the only part in the novel that may appear a bit dull, but soon after especially with the introduction of the character of Sam, everything changes. And it is fun to see our duo come out of their shell and even acknowledge, albeit reluctantly that what they are doing isn't healthy.

The author has managed to regale the reader by placing many thought-provoking situations in her book. It is reflective in many ways; we need to think why we've become so defensive and scared in our life. Why does opening up our hearts scare us so much? Why do we run away from serious relationships? All her characters, be it even the uber suave Sam are essentially flawed characters and it is fun exploring their fears and insecurities.

There were several small things that I felt could have been outlined in a better manner. Regardless of that, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the modern take on relationships and friendships and the interplay of diverse emotions. I'd recommend it, especially if you're a YA fan.

Remember Me
Mary Ann Barrucco
Morton Books
9781929188246, $10.00, PB, 130 pages,

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

This is a non-fiction story about one woman's attempts to cope with life throwing everything at her.

Mary Ann is looking forward to life with Eddie, her husband. Both have good jobs with the City of New York. Eddie's drinking turns into full-blown alcoholism, and he takes it out on Mary Ann. To deal with the abuse, Mary Ann becomes a compulsive gambler. Eddie receives a really good incentive to stop drinking when his health collapses because he needs a heart transplant.

Eddie gets his new heart, and things start to improve between him and Mary Ann. They go on a cruise, and renew their wedding vows. Life is good. That is, until the day that Eddie is diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. The end comes quickly. Instead of being able to mourn her husband privately, Mary Ann is thrown into a battle among Eddie's family over, you guessed it, money.

Mom, the family matriarch, is 90 years old, and still has her faculties, but she can no longer live alone. Eddie's brother and his wife convince Mom to live with them in Florida. The problem is that the wife is a greedy, manipulative little you-know-what who makes no secret of her desire to get her hands on Mom's large bank account. A bigger problem is that Eddie's brother is totally unwilling, or unable, to stand up for himself or his family in New York to his wife.

Mary Ann makes her hatred for Greedy Wife very clear when the draining of the bank account starts (which the family in New York is able to stop). Greedy Wife cuts off all contact between Mom and New York, except to say things like 'Mom wants Mary Ann removed from the (already existing and rock-solid) will' or 'Mom wants no further contact with New York because they are being mean and inconsiderate' (which are total nonsense). Most of the contact between New York and Florida is done through attorneys. Through all this, a group of widows help Mary Ann grieve Eddie's death and keep her emotional bearings.

On the positive side, this is a very raw and plain-spoken story about love and death and family squabbles. It is short, and very much worth reading. On the negative side, this book really needs a trip, or another trip, to a professional proofreader.

Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501141515, $32.50, HC,

Rod Haynes, Reviewer

A few days ago a short clip in the newspaper reported a chance encounter between a local American Legion motorcycle club and a scruffy bike rider standing on the side of the road. The rider's rig had broken down, and he was seeking a ride back to nearby Freehold, New Jersey. The bikers had encountered none other than Bruce Springsteen, whose routine ride around the area where he grew up was interrupted by mechanical problems. The Boss and his new buddies retired to a nearby tavern where Springsteen bought everyone rounds of beer and, upon leaving, left the bartender a $100 tip. This authentic slice-of-life story brings to mind Springsteen's song GLORY DAYS on his 1984 album BORN IN THE USA.

I recently finished Bruce Springsteen's new book BORN TO RUN, an extremely personal, detailed memoir by a reflective Springsteen whose writing runs deep. The author reports spending nearly a decade to write it. From page one it becomes clear that there are no literary filters, no ghost writers, no alter egos present in this tale. No one but Springsteen is doing the talking while bringing his readers way back to his early days. Springsteen offers an honest, no-holds-barred examination of his estrangement from his mentally ill, alcoholic father, while revealing that the mental illness in his family touches Springsteen himself (he reports taking carefully prescribed anti-depressants). Another theme is the central role Springsteen's grandparents played as surrogate parents over the first 15 years of his life. But this is not an angry, finger-pointing exercise where everyone else should bear the blame for Springsteen's harsh early life. It is finely crafted, exceptionally readable writing. Somehow the reader just knows he/she is meeting the real Bruce Springsteen within those pages. Springsteen is able, with the passage of time and maturity, and greatly assisted by his profound love of fellow band member and wife Patty Scialfa, to accept and be self-critical of his faults and eccentricities, while laying open the character and personality of the on-stage rock star, as well as a blue collar product from South Jersey who never really strayed far from his roots physically or emotionally.

Springsteen was an outsider rebel from the beginning, an individual who stood out from his peer group in high school. Surprisingly, he took his first drink at 21. He confesses to have been more focused in getting laid and improving his rock skills than anything else in his formative years, all the while battling his father whose acidic outlook on life and dismissal of Springsteen's rock dreams did not sway him from pursuing his dream. Heavily influenced by Elvis and Roy Orbison, and then the Beatles, Springsteen was drawn to music at a very early age, with the support of an adoring mother who, although she was always broke, somehow managed to pull enough pennies together to buy Springsteen progressively better instruments and equipment to feed his love of rock and roll. Springsteen's mother is a pillar of strength throughout the story. His sister, who became pregnant before the age of 20, also receives recognition for her rock-solid devotion to her family and husband throughout the years.

We join the young Springsteen in his early trials in Freehold, shivering in the freezing cold of rentals that had little or no heat and no running hot water. We see the gradual development of the authentic Springsteen style and persona, coming to understand that these experiences formed the raw resource or reservoir for his poetry and songs in DARKNESS AT THE EDGE OF TOWN, THE RIVER, BORN TO RUN, BORN IN THE USA, and the less commercial, acoustical side of his prolific productivity: GHOST OF TOM JOAD, NEBRASKA, and the PETE SEEGER sessions. We better understand the experiences that molded the genius he became, an American icon who unquestionably warrants comparison to the storied achievements of recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan.

Springsteen's BORN TO RUN chapters are eventually structured around the chronology of his albums, including the dismissal of a manager after he finds Jon Landau in Boston, who eventually played a pivotal role in Springsteen's development over the next 40 years. Landau contributed greatly to Springsteen's rocket rise to stardom in the mid-1970s. The Boss is unceasingly generous to his supporting cast of characters; Clarence and Max, Stevie and Danni, Patti and all the other band members of the E-Street Band. He takes full responsibility for the failure of his first marriage to Julienne Phillips, citing an inability to let any companion get too close to who he really is. He admits before Patti the longest his relationships lasted were around two years. Springsteen concedes his obsessive, "control freak" nature in managing all aspects of his band. He never relinquishes the rights to his music, he maintains dictatorial control of the compensation for each band member, he insists on perfection in performance, and he ensures he is the sole "driver of the E-Street Band bus," including deciding when it is time to call a break from performing with them to go his own way. This is not a bad thing, in his mind, although members of the band are understandably mystified and hurt by the decision. Springsteen attributes his incredible success in part to his attention to detail in all aspects of his rock star life. One doesn't find many hangers-on around Bruce, at least few are pointed out in his book.

Bruce Springsteen's unabashed love-hate relationship with Freehold, his gratitude towards and unfettered love for Patti Scialfa who rescued him from himself and bore him three (now adult) children whom he brags about with great affection, and his ability to see his faults, crack them open for all to see, and then attempt to put himself back in the saddle to try again, is risky and altogether human. Springsteen is one of us, and he knows it and he likes it. He openly admits to engaging in years of therapy in keeping himself together.

The reader finishes BORN TO RUN convinced that he/she has been granted a genuine, open-access look at Bruce Springsteen and his world from his origin to today. We discover that the rock star we see up on the stage and the opinions we have of him being a generous, caring person who does not elevate himself above the rest of humanity, are true to form. Despite his human flaws, we admire Springsteen for his genius, perseverance over many early obstacles, and his courage in taking a hard look at all aspects of an extremely complex, talented individual. There is little doubt that Springsteen is not merely a rock star. He is an American treasure.

One Night Stand: Could this be the beginning of forever? (The Colour Series Book 1)
Jack O. Daniel
Massachusetts Books
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01BREY9C2, $2.99, 200 pages,

Suzie Housley


Twenty-one Isabel Caine thought she had everything figured out in her life. She had a good job, and was engaged to a wonderful man. A text message destroyed her fairy tale romance when her "Prince" fiancee broke off their engagement. To add further insult to injury he had made the text a group message that alerted all their friends.

With her two carat engagement ring and the twenty thousand dollars she had planned to use on the wedding she made the decision to quit her job, and then book a world tour. She knew that if she didn't put some distance between what had happened she would never be able to recover enough to move on with her life.

As her journey was about to end, she found herself at her last stop in New Zealand. While relaxing on a beautiful beach she encounters a handsome man. The two of them have instant chemistry, enough for them to throw caution to the wind and have a one night stand. Isabel knew that she was scheduled to leave the next day so the chances of ever seeing this man again were slim to none. But fate intertwined and the two strangers find themselves once again face to face. Will they be able to rekindle their fiery one night love affair? Or will they keep their feelings locked in the past?

ONE NIGHT STAND: COULD THIS BE THE BEGINNING OF FOREVER? Is a book that brings back elements of beloved romance books of time past, these are the books that each one of holds near and dear to our hearts for they introduced us to a world that showed us the power of love was beautiful.

Jack O. Daniel is an exceptional author who's writing style projects love in its purest form. I was so impressed with how he was able to take two fleeting characters that are passing in the wind and have them find each other. Then fate decides to step in and give them a chance to see if they can build upon what they first discovered. This is the type of romance that is priceless for each word will wrap its way around your heart. I highly recommend this author and this book to any die hard romance fan.

Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road
Rob Schmitz
Crown Publishing Group
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
Broadway Books: 9780553418101, $16.00, Paperback; Kindle $13.99
9780553418088, $28.00, Hardcover, 336 pages,

Dr Zulfiqar Ali

The title Street of Eternal Happiness is an articulated form invented by the author, Rob Schmitz for the street called "Long Happiness Road", named after a town along the coast of Fujian province, famous for the Ming Dynasty "explorer" Zheng He. Situated in the heart of Shanghai, the street became part of the French Concession after the defeat of the Qing Dynasty in the first Opium War in 1842. The book is packed with information disseminated in a lively and entertaining manner. We get the feeling of James Joyce's characters wander through Dublin in Ulysses, in this book. The characters, unlike those of Ulysses, are not an invention of the writer but real human beings or the Shanghaied.

CK - a boy who grows up before our eyes unexpectedly opts for a job with a foreign firm and abandons his previous appointment with a company, owned specifically by the state. The irony is that CK's father keeps on making adverse comments on the Chinese "system", yet, when it comes to the life-long security of job for his own son, he earnestly advises him to remain attached with the same system under which the father and the son have lived. Even more ironic is the author himself, who had lived on this street and is still in the same city, yet, he does not hesitate to refer to the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, when CK was only eight. Such an incident has nothing to do with the life of eight years old boy. Our author is based in Shanghai not in Beijing. The Chinese "system" is quite stoic in accommodating not annoying Rob Schmitz.

How the people felt when forced to evacuate the area on which the state plans to build new buildings is noted next. As usual as with the Western writers on this issue, they have always been the voice of the disgruntled victims, unaware that the older buildings were not only worn-out and looked odd to the latest architectural design, but also occupied too much space in a Chinese city of the 21st Century. Schmitz's description of the chaotic traffic is reminiscent of such a scene perhaps in every metropolis of Asia and Africa. He refers to the Chinese policy of "a civilization campaign for the masses" (p.32) because in China despite the change, "old habits remained" (p.24). He compares the American society with the Chinese and says that what the Americans were propagating at the start of the twentieth century, the latter had only begun at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Zhao Shiling's elder son, Big Sun (chapter 3), is refused continuation of further education in Shanghai because of the Chinese household registration laws. This teenager has no choice but to return to Shandong. The experience proves disastrous - manifesting the gap between the two tier life-styles and over all socio-economic reality of the country. Eventually, the boy drops out of school as well as education and returns to Shanghai to work with his mother in a flower shop. The story of the mother is also unique. She is the one in the family who notices that if they did not take the steps, they would be left behind others in this age of reforms and opening up. She leaves her husband and two sons behind in the village and starts selling flowers on the Street of Eternal Happiness. A quick-witted lady, Zhao was following the slogan "to get rich is glorious" - raised by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1990s. We learn about the Chinese society and culture, such as guanxi (the dependence on one's kith and kin, people of the same village or area and region), luohou or the chronic rural backwardness and the Chinese (or the Asian) value of a caring family. Zhao is aware that she won't have time for herself even after retirement. She would be busy looking after her grandchildren. Schmitz is astounded to mark the scale of change in China when he finds that his own Chinese colleagues, having arisen from the humble backwardness or luohou, had "inhabited luxury... complexes" in just fifteen years.

Chapter 4, titled, "Re-Education" is about uncle Feng, Auntie Fu and Reverend Jiang. Uncle Feng sells the scallion pancakes and adds to his income from the rent he gets from his house he shares with the rent-payers. He tells about himself and says how when young, he and the rest of the young people were motivated by the Communist propaganda and the way millions like him were instigated to spend a better part of their youth by working in the countryside. Posted to work in the Xinjiang region, he travelled for months experiencing all sorts of difficulties. It was an excruciating experience to work in such an isolated, barren and unknown place. Auntie Fu's father became the butt of party punishment simply because he used his own mind by offering some new ideas. In the second part of the same chapter we read about the post-Mao era of relative liberalization, which included religion as well. Session after session the faithful Christians attend the Church and listen to Father Jiang. In one such session he persuades the congregation to realise by reflection that life is a gift from our Lord. Everything we have is a blessing of our Lord, including wealth which we must spend on the poor and the needy. "Box of Letters" or chapter 5 consists of the correspondence between a prisoner and his wife, their relatives and friends. Brought from an antique shop, the letters describe the painful stories of a prisoner who was convicted of being a "capitalist." He was serving the sentence in a labour camp in Tibet while his wife lived on the Street of the Eternal Happiness. All the prisoners were there for the political correctness only. The authorities did not bother how miserably the poor souls fared. The letters were censored and the prisoners could only "praise" the system despite "widespread" failures (p.103). These days the Chinese are not interested in these things, concerned as they are about "a good job, a healthy family, enough money to buy a house and a car" (p.107). Schmitz also covers the story of Zhang - a street beggar in this chapter as well as the chapters that follow. Zhang is the person whose own children are doing well, continues to beg on a national holiday because the people were more generous on such an occasion in such a city which was richer than his own. Begging fetched him more money than did the farming back in his village. There was no need to be among his children and grandchildren on a national holiday season because earning through begging was the best way to contribute towards his family. In the chapter "Auntie Fu's Get-Rich-Quick plan" we are introduced to the shady world of business in this age of Consumerism. A company named "Gatewang" serves the Chinese interests better, according to her. In contrast, and she knows well as the bias obsesses her, "eighty-seven percent" of Taobao's shares belonged to the "Japanese" (p.112). Auntie Fu must invest in the Gatewang, not knowing that "An Internet forum devoted to Gatewang was filled with posts alleging the company was a scam" (p.114). The next chapter opens the Pandora box of the youth problems of China. Zhao, the lady who sells flowers, has to find a suitable bride for her son, Big Sun. This young man cannot save up because of the curse of the "sheer exploitation of cheap labour" (p.137). Like him the newly qualified graduates are also struggling financially. Unable to get a professional job these young people in their thousands have to compromise with unskilled ones. Because the cities provide opportunities, these young graduates have to stay there and hence are unable to look after their parents. They want to avoid the "Chinese problem rooted in cultural traditions, endemic political corruption, and centuries of poverty" (p.132). The youth realises that times have changed. Too much reliance on one's parents or the state is waning. People want to bask in the sun of individualism or liberalism and progress on the self-help basis. Here, we are talking about the generation born after "China's reform and opening" (p.145). Whereas their parents "toiled most of their lives" (p.141) just like Auntie Fu and Uncle Feng, the youth struggles to cope "with the free-market realities" in China. The elders "don't get" what the youth thinks. Like the Chinese leadership at the top, the youth brims with enthusiasm for success.

Mayor Chen elaborates his own memories next. Instead of the sandwich shops, bars and cafes that we see today, the "Maggie Lane" of the French Concession was inhabited by a rich community of businessmen. The area was a boast for three bed room homes of a "red-and-gray brick shikumen." "Intricate strokes of the traditional Chinese characters" (p.162) decorated the homes whose gates were made of stone. The ravages of time have changed the area completely and the "local residents" have mostly "left" (p.178). After a brief recap of the previous chapters, we find ourselves among a gang of "leather-clad tycoons" (p.190). They come to this neon-lit corner amidst "crowds of young Chinese" (p.188) every Friday evening. Here they have coffee and discuss business matters. These tycoons sing the praises of Deng instead of Mao. Schmitz heard them talk of freedom as Jerry Gong comments "..a motorcycle does not have a roof or a window or any doors. It gives me freedom. It lets me indulge my passion for life" (p.190). Schmitz discusses some more letters written by the residents of this area in the past. In the chapter "Zero Risk", we learn about Auntie Fu and Uncle Feng's generation and the way they plan to safeguard against any form of risk. Talking to Schmitz, Uncle Feng complains "about the money" Auntie Fu "had lost in investment scams" (p.214). Auntie reacts and blames Uncle Feng for having sold their flat "for the equivalent of around a hundred thousand U.S. dollars, half of what" (p.215) she thought was its actual worth. The old couple's mutual squabbles are also worth reading. Schmitz also speaks to many such retirees and says that most of them regret for being ideally selfless and egalitarian in their loyalties to the society. Despite their sacrifices of the 1950s and 1960s, the curse of "rampant inequality2 (p.220) stills hovers like the albatross. Auntie teases her husband and says that the climate and food of Xinjiang is far better than that of Shanghai.

The last four chapters reiterate the main argument of the book. We learn more about China as some more experiences of the characters are revealed to us. Despite the suffering endured by the people of China during the Cultural Revolution and concomitant natural catastrophes such as the famines and floods, they have proven their abilities of infinite resilience because they know that they can achieve high goals that they set for themselves.

Smell the Raindrops
BA Austin
Crescendo Press
9780989504737, $22.00, HC, 191pp,

Richard Bainbridge

Synopsis: According to BA Austin, alcoholism doesn't run in families. "The truth is that it stomps all over them, creating a sort of generations-long family hangover." Austin brings that reality vividly and poignantly to life in "Smell the Raindrops: One Young Woman's Journey through Life, Love, and Recovery," her intimate memoir about relationships and the challenges of being a Southern Belle baby-boomer born into significant wealth.

Austin's colorful family was one of the wealthiest and most respected in Memphis society. "We lived in a dramatic 10,000-square-foot Japanese-styled house with floor-to-ceiling windows right in the middle of Memphis," says Austin, who has a Masters of Arts and lectures regularly on art history. "In 1960 it won the first honor award of the American Institute of Architecture. I went to an elite private school. We had a live-in housekeeper and a chauffeur. It is fair to say that I grew up privileged."

Other folks in the segregated South had it less easy. Especially if they were black. Austin's artful depiction of the commonplace difficulties and indignities of everyday life for Memphis' African Americans, is beautiful and evocative. That one of them turned out to be the most influential person in Austin's life adds a dimension to a story that it as much about human dignity as it is about the ravages of alcohol.

Smell the Raindrops is, in many ways, an ode to a poor black woman who filled an empty place in young Bethany Ann's life. It brings that bond palpably alive as Karine, the family nanny, becomes a lifeline of love and acceptance.

But the book is most compelling when it describes the temptations of alcohol for someone trying to give it up. Austin's thirty-day stay, two decades ago, at the famous Betty Ford Clinic, plus all the hard work and determination of following the "one-day-at-a-time" AA motto, has kept Austin sober since 1997. And not a day goes by when she doesn't thank God for Karine. "We were wealthy. She came from a poor black neighborhood at the peak of the civil rights movement. We met at the heart. She's still always with me."

Critique: An engrossing memoir by a woman of privilege whose circumstances enabled her to embrace the less fortunate, and who ultimately met and fought her demons heroically, solidifying her faith and love for her family. A powerful, passionately told story that will appeal to anyone who relishes stories of courage and conviction. Of particular interest to readers who are interested in addiction/recovery.

The Thundering Herd
John E. Peltier
Outskirts Press. Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478765332, $28.95, PB, 379pp
9781478767633, $39.95, HC, 379pp

Dr. Eileen R. Garza

5.0 out of 5 stars -- Nice summer read!

Regretting the loss of family history at the passing of his father, John Peltier set out on a personal journey to preserve the legacy of his family by penning "The Thundering Herd: Farm Life in the 1950's and 60's; Looking Through the Lens of Duty in Vietnam". This series of memoirs spanning his early family history in the 1600's to the present day is best described as extraordinary in its ordinariness. Once the early roots are established through family lore in the first two chapters, the contemporary Peltier family stories switch back and forth between childhood memories and current (Vietnam war) era events. Not unlike Forrest Gump, you join the Peltier family as they go through life experiencing from a personal perspective events such as Hurricane Carla, the Vietnam war, and the rearing of the next generations through both lean and prosperous times. In this day when everyone has their nose in technology, it provides a warm reflection of what life was like for families growing up in rural Texas in the 50s and 60s when kids would leave their homes and not come back until dinner time and parents did not have to worry that someone would take them.

Baking For Dave
Melissa Palmer
Sensory World
c/o Future Horizons
721 W. Abram Street, Arlington, TX 76013
9781935567677, $9.95 PB, $9.45 Kindle, 436pp,

Lyn Dunsavage Young, Reviewer
Autism Asperger's Digest, August 2016

Few things give me such joy as reading a great writer.

Who would expect that from a novel with the innocuous title of Baking for Dave?

On the face of it, the story itself doesn't appear riveting because it's a tale about a 15-year-old who "borrows" her mother's car to drive approximately 1000 miles down the U.S. Atlantic coast to compete in a baking contest. Then again, Mark Haddon's best-selling The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time's title also didn't appear exactly challenging either. However, both authors spin compelling stories because their protagonists are complex and, in both cases, they have the same "issues," commonly called sensory processing disorders (SPD ), which makes it easy to compare.

Significantly, neither author identifies or categorizes the diagnosis that governs their character's lives, which, initially, should hook the reader because of the initial "strangeness" of the characters' reactions to simple things, like a dog not barking in the night or a lightning bolt striking close by or a smell or sound others don't seem to notice but is so horrific, the character has to escape or become a screaming victim in its midst.

Palmer's abilities to capture the feelings and definitions of one of every six children today who have some form of sensory dysfunction in this book forces me to conclude that the novel really is an effective tool of communication, because, while telling a compelling tale, she tears away the shades that have been closed on one of the least understood problems many children have.

She absolutely nails the descriptions of how one with sensory issues feels, producing images a reader is likely not to forget. The reader, literally, FEELS the rush of anxiety and the overwhelming response to sensory overload, which, until reading this novel, I never completely understood, even though I've had a child with this disability myself. For this reason alone, I'd recommend a parent, counselor, or educator read this Young Adult (YA) book, because it's the clearest depiction of someone experiencing sensory issues I've ever read, and it's so easy-to-read.

It's the latter because of the images Palmer creates and the story itself that are so appropriate for tweens and teens. Its focus is on a 15-year-old who has to battle her monsters (SPD and, the biggest one of all - people who don't understand her!) to be able to accomplish the things she believes she can do. Her goal places her in conflict with her mother, who wants nothing more than to protect her from the hurt and dangers of society itself. Isn't that every 15-year-old's desire and mother's dilemma?

A simple example of Melissa Palmer's craft is a scene in which Iris, the run-away girl who loves to bake, gives a sweet potato cake she created to Chris, a young professor, who later becomes Iris's protector and travel companion on her trip to the baking contest in Florida:

He peeled the paper down, when two large orange crumbs fell like dive bombers to the floor. Iris swooped like a hawk to catch them, the movement a strange mix of awkward violence and delicate grace.

"You don't have to . . . "

But she'd gotten them. Up on her feet again, she watched him.

The butter cream was the warm brown color of wet sand in the morning, just as the sun comes up. She was generous with it, without going overboard. With just a little effort, he opened his mouth wide enough to get every taste in one bite.

She watched him as if he were diffusing a bomb. . . He chewed with his eyes closed; his breathing settled to two breaths every eight to 10 seconds over his previous six. It was much easier to read people from their breathing patterns . . . and, now, her skin burned at the wrists where her first watch rubbed the next.

"So?" she blurted, even though she'd been trying not to.

Christopher opened his eyes with a jolt. And sighed.

Sighs were bad.

"It's the most delicious thing I've ever tasted."

Baking for Dave is a revelation of how a teen who has serious sensory problems can cope and, actually, find levels of comfort, success, and, most important, acceptance, by challenging herself and accomplishing the things she loves doing. In this case, it includes totally indulging (in the true sense of those words) in the music she loves by Dave Matthews, because it soothes her.

In a recent column she wrote for the Huffinton Post's blog, Ms. Palmer explained the reason she wrote Baking for Dave:

Right now I'm taking on the biggest challenge I've ever taken on as a writer. I am working on a story about a young hero with autism. And my goal is not to create a cartoon. (Not that there's anything wrong with cartoons.) But I don't want the two-dimensional paper cutout of what a person on the spectrum might be, but a fully-realized person who loves and needs to be loved, a character worthy of our respect and interest, not because of what she has, but because of who she is.

In my opinion, her story and imagery accomplishes her goal, because, by the time Iris concludes her trek, everyone is pulling for her. She certainly isn't one-dimensional, and it is who she is that is the magnet that attracts fans, as she personally works to overcome her sensory difficulties.

Palmer's title "Baking for Dave" -- when Dave Matthews has no formal ties to the actual contest -- and her Disney-esque ending actually add the cherries on top of the multi-layered sundae Palmer has built -- just for those who love philosophical underpinnings and deeper meanings in stories.

Edge of the Wind
James Cherry
Stephen F. Austin State University Press
1936 North St., Nacogdoches TX 75962
9781622881406, $18.00, PB, 200pp,

Niles Reddick, Reviewer

Cherry's newest Edge of the Wind was endorsed by Ernest J. Gaines Award winner Ravi Howard (his latest is Driving the King), Kafka Prize winner Valerie Martin (her most recent is The Ghost of the Mary Celeste), and Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, award-winning author of nine books. In each of their blurbs of praise, I couldn't agree more. James Cherry has written a literary psychological thriller that will keep readers on the "edge" of their seats.

Set in rural Western Tennessee, we quickly learn, Cherry knows the landscape well. As a former counselor who worked with the full spectrum of mental disorders, I know Cherry has also given readers a realistic character in Alex Van der Pool. As if life isn't difficult enough for a young African American male, Alex Van der Pool has walked the line of normality since his teens after having been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Now, however, Alex has been 'hold up' in his sister's house reading and writing poetry, is off his medication, and is in a full blown psychotic state, hearing and carrying on conversations in his imagination with Tobi, conversations that at times left me questioning if Tobi was actually real and wondering if I wasn't ill in some way.

We learn Alex had been to the community college once before, created a disturbance, and was beaten by the local sheriff, leaving a permanent scar above his eye. Now, however, Alex is plotting. He aims to get someone at the community college to hear his poetry, so he loads his gun and makes his way to the campus where he takes a literature class hostage. Without giving much away, this is definitely the best part---poetry being discussed, analyzed, and critiqued all in a hostage situation. The irony is that many students likely feel they have been taken hostage in literature classes, but these students understand the poetry; enjoy it, and get something from it. Perhaps they were simply good actors, but I choose to think otherwise. There's a healing that takes place with Alex, the hostages, and even with characters on the "edge" of the hostage situation outside in the parking lot, including the sheriff.

Cherry's Edge of the Wind is a must read. There are surprises here and readers will go on multiple journeys at once that will expand their consciousness. I felt that way the last time I read his collection, Still a Man and Other Stories. Cherry is destined for an award with this newest post-modern masterpiece. To read James Cherry's other books, please see his website:

The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling Through Shenandoah National Park
Jeff Alt, author
Hannah Tuohy, illustrator
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780825308314; $9.99; 200pp,

Nicole Henke, Review

"This book series is aimed at kids ages 8-12 (3rd-7th grade), and this is the second book in it. If your kids loved the Magic Treehouse books, they will LOVE this series too! Miss Grace devoured the book, and loved being able to read about animals and the park. She then had to regale me with different facts from the story! I always count that as a plus. If your child can tell you everything from a book, then obviously, it took hold of their imagination and they liked it! Miss Grace already wants all the rest of the books in the series. The illustrations help to break up the chapter reading and are totally kid worthy! This is a great series that your child will love reading, and you will love having them read (you just might want to read it too!).

If you are a homeschooling parent, you will want to pick up EVERY book in this series, to add to your science, history and reading curriculums! There's even ways to add math and language! Each of the Bubba Jones books are filled with historical, ecological and scientific facts about the park in question, and its inhabitants, allowing you to use one book to cross spectrum topics. Plus, if you add in a little hiking and on-hand science experiments, the education from the book will really take root! Plus, each book includes a curriculum guide and discussion questions for each chapter, so it almost teaches your kids for you, LOL. With these books, you'll get books that are fun AND educational for your kids too."

Disclosure / Disclaimer Note: I received this book, free of charge, from the author, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation received.

The Tolling of Mercedes Bell
Jennifer Dwight
She Writes Press
9781631520709, $18.95, PB / 9781631520716, $9.95, Kindle
9781631520860, $24.95, HC, 394pp,

San Francisco Book Review

In dire financial straits because of her abusive late husband, Mercedes Bell is thrilled to have been offered a paralegal position at a law firm. While the earnings will be sufficient to provide for her and her young daughter Germaine, Mercedes determines to not jump quickly into another relationship for fear of yet another disastrous marriage. But a year later, Mercedes meets Jack Soutane, a suave lawyer who lures Mercedes into a fairytale romance. Mercedes and Jack's relationship appears to run smoothly until their horrific honeymoon - the first in a chain of unnerving and convoluted events. Jennifer Dwight crafts a hauntingly realistic story in her debut novel.

Dwight tightly weaves nuances of the 1980s in her suspenseful romantic plot. The time period is known for its contrasts - great socioeconomic advancement "due to advances in technology and the beginning of globalization" (Wikipedia) amid a flurry of wars (i.e., The Falklands War and various civil wars), and a new disease: AIDS. Dwight does an excellent job of slowly mixing deception and ambiguity within her well-developed characters through the use of dialogue. While focusing attention on Mercedes Bell, her principal character, and her intense romantic relationship with Jack, Dwight concurrently presents a human-interest story set on familiar familial and worldly themes. Good familial examples include domestic violence and incest; worldly - company, drug, and sexual corruption, and the highly sensitive tenor of gender in the 1980s.

Although Dwight's third person narrative incorporates a balanced combination of history and various themes within romantic environs, it is truly first and foremost a story of survival and courage. Dwight keeps her plot constantly flowing by building tension within evasive and unanticipated scenes while alternating chapters and chapter segments with Mercedes's nightmares, flashbacks, and passionate lovemaking as well as the fierce friction between Mercedes and Jack. The Tolling of Mercedes Bell is an unforgettable page-turner - a must read by all!

Called: The Making & Unmaking of a Nun
Marge Rogers Barrett
Antrim House
9781943826056, $20.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 314pp,

Arianne Lehn, Reviewer
Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, Collegeville, MN

Minutes after a near fatal car crash on the icy Minneapolis interstate, Marge Rogers Barrett made a declaration. While pinned in her flipped car and surrounded by shattered glass, she gritted her teeth. "I determined that if I lived through this," she writes, "I was going to live large and messy... I resolved from this point on - because I had been given a reprieve on life - to be totally my own person...I would write my book about all that had been given to me."

Called: The Making & Unmaking of a Nun is that book - a powerful testimony to and expression of gratitude for life. The title grows from a calling to and away from the religious order, but Barrett's story is much more than her life as a nun. It's the brave quest to follow love's lifelong call, and how that took a variety of forms throughout her journey. Barrett's beautiful memoir captures the ways storytelling uniquely uncovers meaning and appreciation for one's life.

Now a published author, teacher, and writing coach, Barrett's early chapters take us back to small town Marshall, MN where she grew up in a large, progressive, Catholic family. She explores her relationships with each member, and how they formed and launched her into the person she now is. Wise and hardworking parents; a younger sister with Down Syndrome; her brother who struggled with mental illness; Mary, her older sister, who would also enter the convent; even Blackie the dog, are among those who teach Barrett how to care for others and be cared for herself. We also get an early introduction to her future husband, Tom Barrett - a lovely thread woven throughout the book beginning in friendship and leading to marriage.

A gorgeous, poetic, and gripping storyteller, Barrett's recounting of her growing world and expanding love pained my heart, made me laugh, and enclosed me with arms of invitation. It's after a move to Saint Paul (the big city) for high school that her "nun to none" journey commences.

"And then I was called," Barrett wrote. "That day in the auditorium at the end of our senior retreat when I couldn't say no to God. He wanted me."

An all-or-nothing person, Barrett dove head-first into being a nun.

An all-or-nothing person, Barrett dove head-first into being a nun. An all-or-nothing person, Barrett dove head-first into being a nun, as had her older sister. Her stories witness to the grit and beauty of true communal living, where one must trust and appreciate all kinds of people. Barrett sets her personal experiences within a broader historical and social commentary: - assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., Second Vatican Council, Civil Rights Movement, the horrific state of mental health institutions, and more.

It's within her first year as a postulant, however, when questioning twinges move Barrett's heart. She feels separated from her family and the world. She continues her life as a nun for a number of years before the twinges turn stronger, eventually leading her away from religious life and her Catholic faith.

But her "calling" does not end with the convent. The deeper call toward love and other-centeredness offers Barrett adventure after adventure. I was deeply inspired by Barrett's ingenuity, innovation, and courageous spirit as she responded yes, yes, and yes to each new opportunity. Working the McCarthy campaign in New Mexico, volunteering at a hospital where she walked every week with a young boy who wouldn't speak, teaching at an inner-city school in St Paul where knives were held to her face while breaking up gang fights, traveling to Europe and Africa, enrolling in graduate school, marrying Tom Barrett, and starting her writing career as her kids entered junior high   - these are but a handful of her explorations. All the while, Barrett's writing provides a graceful parallel between her physical experiences and her inner reflection.

Though willing to drop everything at the ring of a phone call, Barrett's fierce faithfulness to family never changed. In fact, I think the most beautiful portions of her memoir are some of her later chapters, which delve into the deep connections she shared with her family and the ways they took care of one another in adult life. It makes sense that these relationships were primary in Barrett's story; after all, we know who we are in large part by knowing from where we came and with whom we are inextricably linked.  

Our calling is to claim who we are - with love and with trust.

Barrett offers many moving and memorable takeaways. Each of us are paradoxes and complex creations. There is always more to learn about people - even those we think we know the best - and we are to never stop changing and becoming. Our calling is to claim who we are - with love and with trust. To lead a contented, but not complacent life, means being present where you are. To embrace, rather than resist change. To discuss question rather than to blindly surrender.  To live your life as an adventure, and be grateful for it.

In the last chapter, Barrett eventually left the hospital following her car accident. While viewing her totaled Explorer, she was nearly asthmatic over the horrific sight and astonished she survived. For some reason, she remembered the dog's bed was in the back and went to look for it. Instead of finding the bed, she spied a book lying on the backseat. A book she never put there. It was a Bible.

*Marge Rogers Barrett has both attended and served as a writing instructor at Collegeville Institute summer writing workshops. She also worked with the Wholly Writers who first met at the Writing Pastors, Working Pastors workshop in 2013 where she was the writing coach.

A Killing Snow
David Hoing and Roger Hileman
Penmore Press
920 N. Javelina Place, Tucson, AZ 85748
9781942756620, $19.50 PB, $5.50 Kindle,

Donald Schneider, Reviewer

In July of 1886, Lt. Randall Erickson of the Army Signal Corps and his wife Mariel along with Bruno, their aging and malodorous but beloved mutt, arrive in the small town of Goss Valley in what is now South Dakota, then the Dakota Territory. Erickson had arranged a transfer from Chicago with the assistance of an old Civil War buddy, the asthmatic, crusty but ever helpful Mike Hammon, a survivor of the notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, Georgia commanded by the equally notorious Henry Wirz, the only Civil War veteran executed for war crimes. Second Lieutenant Erickson is a weather forecaster, referred to as giving "indications" then, the forerunner of modern meteorology handled by the Signal Corps. Exactly why Erickson, a veteran of thirty years' service - and a West Point graduate at that - holds the lowest commissioned rank in the army is a mystery reserved for later in the narrative.

Goss Valley was founded by Herb Goss, the town's inebriate mayor, postmaster and publisher and editor of the town's newspaper, the Goss Valley Sentinel. At the time Mariel meets Goss, the mayor and town council are preoccupied with a fight to return the county seat to Goss Valley after having lost the distinction a couple years previously to another small prairie town. Goss seems to pursue this as much as a matter of personal pride as for its financial and political advantages. Mariel is a social progressive and bit of a proto-feminist who aspires to a career in journalism. To that effect, she lobbies Goss for opportunities to write for his paper, and writings of more substance than mere women's fluff pieces, to the chagrin of her husband, the more conventional and staid army officer. Mariel eschews prejudice against immigrants and even American Indians whom she yearns to help in their often desperate plight. Here Erickson puts his foot down having a seemingly irrational disdain for the "noble savage" and pegs up his wife's contrary views to misguided romanticism. He staunchly forbids her to visit the Crow Indian reservation some miles away, an edict Mariel is destined to disobey to the detriment of their marital relations.

The first townsman the Ericksons meet is Clyde Hartwig, a drayman (one who drove a horse drawn, buckboard-like vehicle; then regardless of cargo and not just beer as the term was later identified), whom Hammon hires to meet the Ericksons at the nearest railroad station some miles away and transport to Goss Valley along with their luggage. Hartwig also sells a hardy variety of wheat seed better able than other strains to withstand the vicissitudes of the harsh Dakota climate, as well as dabbling in the Chicago grain futures markets. Mariel takes an instant dislike to the young, profane Hartwig, a mutual antipathy that will feature prominently in the novel. He drives them to the hotel managed by Mike Hammon and his wife Phoebe for a local widow until the newcomers' house is ready for them to take up residence. Mike and Phoebe had each been married previously, both having lost their spouses. Phoebe's late husband had been an army surgeon during the war. She had sometimes accompanied him as a civilian aide. Her moving journal account of the death during the Battle of Gettysburg of a Confederate soldier greatly impresses Mariel in light of her journalistic aspirations. She later urges Mike Hammon to share his wartime exploits, especially his ordeal at Andersonville and his daring escape, that she knows Goss had been hankering to print to no avail as Hammon stubbornly refuses to open up about that period of his eventful life.

As the Ericksons acclimate to their new surroundings, Mariel is delighted with an offer by Mayor Goss to become the town's new schoolmarm, a position in which she has experience. As the Hammons are living at the hotel while managing it, they generously offer their own house for the school. Mariel is urged by the town's women folk to join their Fragment Society, a charity that ostensibly sews clothes for the destitute but which Mariel soon learns to her dismay is little more than a gossip society. She has frequent run-ins with the other ladies due to their obvious prejudice against Indians and the Irish, most especially an Irish immigrant couple with a ponderous brood of children. As a result, she has the first of a series of run-ins with Hartwig's wife Louisa which threatens her professional position. Hartwig had taken a violent dislike to Liam and Bridget Blackford and their thirteen kids. The Blackfords are not just Irish Catholics, but also Travelers, indigenous Irish who lead Gypsy-like existences in the old sod. Like Gypsies, they have an unsavory reputation for thefts and scams. However, after having lost a child (of which Mariel learns of in a manner which she finds both macabre and traumatic considering her own family's past), the Blackfords decided to break with the old ways and now seek to homestead in the new land. Liam Blackford is somewhat mysterious as to how he manages to support his prodigious family, a question that eventually might be answered by the appearance in town of another newcomer of a seemingly sinister bent named Cowan whom Liam Blackford introduces as his cousin notwithstanding the former being Scottish, a claim regarded dubiously by others. The friction engendered between the interactions of Hartwig and Blackford ultimately boils over into a sensational crime (for the era and place) and a trial that threatens to turn scandalous in the hands of a respected defense attorney.

The novel unfolds as an intriguing slice of period Americana on the plains. The reader is treated to historically accurate descriptions of an Indian reservation, a Jesuit mission and missionaries; the trials and tribulations of small town people trying to survive in often adverse circumstances in an unforgiving climatic environment long before central heating and indoor plumbing. The characterizations are rich with heroism and foibles and contain often amusing incidents juxtaposed against tragedies of almost Biblical proportions. The title is derived from the historically accurate blizzard of January 12, 1888, often referred to as "The Children's Blizzard," which appeared suddenly (defying Erickson's prediction to the contrary) and dropped a ponderous amount of blinding, fluffy snow that resulted in the deaths of many children trying to make their way home from school on the Great Plains and costs Mariel part of a leg after an attempted rescue of students.

Authors David Hoing and Roger Hileman are coauthors of Hammon Falls, a novel set somewhat later in Iowa and which title is taken from the name of the nephew of Mike Hammon of this novel, a town's real estate baron and local potentate; so perhaps this portends a series of loosely connected historical novels. The narrative unfolds between 1886 and 1900 with the innovation (which some might find gimmicky) of presenting the final chapter first, rendering the balance of the novel as a flashback by Mariel Erickson, its principal protagonist, from whose point of view the entire novel is presented; also somewhat unusual (and effective here). The authors meticulously draw from period source materials such as diaries, and the town of Goss Valley is patterned after Gann Valley, South Dakota, which with a population of fourteen renders it the smallest county seat in the United States. A Killing Snow is a superlative literary effort of historical fiction, related in a compelling style of prose, well worth the time of readers interested in such historically riveting fare. The reader does indeed appreciate the feeling of "being there" in an age not all that long ago, yet seemingly strangely exotic to people of contemporary values and marvels of material and technological innovations so alien to those who lived then.

The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture
Steven Burgauer
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450218825, $33.95 HC; 9781450218801, $23.95 PB; $2.99 Kindle,

The Book Reviewers
Full Media Ltd.

Historical novel based on the diaries and autobiography of an American officer in WWII which details the remarkable courage and resilience he demonstrated in combat and capture.

William Frodsham was just one of the many thousands of young American citizens to enlist for military duty after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Unlike the vast majority of those men and women, William, years after the conflict, gathered his notes and his memories to write a detailed account of those years. Author Steven Burgauer has shaped these writings into a very readable historical novel, structured in diary form.

The opening pitches us straight into the intense fighting which followed the D-Day landings. We learn straightaway that William is a courageous soldier and an excellent leader of his platoon despite the impossible situation in which they find themselves. From here we are taken back in time to the beginning of the war and his immediate decision to fight for the country he clearly loves. The first part of the book focuses on 'duty and drill' which aptly describes the many months that William spends in the U.S. in basic and then officer training.

Now a 2nd lieutenant, he is posted to Cornwall, England, to train and lead a platoon in preparation for the invasion of France. Throughout William keeps up a commentary of the various duties that he is assigned and of the difficulties he faced. Although there are times when you feel like you are reading a list of events, names and places, there is always historical interest as well as numerous personal anecdotes that give a clear picture of life in the U.S Army.

From the prologue, we know that William had decided not to write about his feelings and doubtless the horrors that he saw and participated in were forever with him and just too much to express with words. Although this is quite understandable, the consequence is that you never seem to get to know him as a man - you gain an understanding of his character and his qualities, but the reader is rarely allowed more than a few glimpses inside, limiting the depth of engagement with the book. That said, the combat scenes and the brutal deprivation of his time as a prisoner of war are well written, making some of the horrors of war all too real. Indeed, the awfulness of his final combat duties when freed and then seconded by the Russians are chilling.

Foot Faults: Tennis Poems
Roger Sedarat
David Robert Books
P.O. Box 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1006
9781625492005, $19.00, PB, 108pp,

Lance Smith, Reviewer

It isn't often one will find a book on poems for a sport, but this collection of tennis poems is very good. On the first page, as an introduction, there is a quote by Andre Agassi in which he states that "It's no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life." That is an appropriate introduction to this collection as the poems speak to all aspects of the game that a player can experience. It also tells a fan's viewpoint in some as well, such as a poem about each of the Grand Slam tournaments.

Nearly everything one can think about in tennis is covered. Great shots, court time, lessons (my favorite poem in the collection dealt with a lesson to improve the poet's backhand) are just a few of the topics covered. The poems are written free verse with rhyming in some of them. As I usually do when reading free verse poems, I read them as very short stories, which really is what they were trying to tell.

The last section of the collection has poems of many tennis greats, covering all eras from Don Budge to Novak Djokovic. These poems are just a few lines long with each one starting with the letter of the last name of the player. I enjoyed them as well, as each poem had at least one line that was certainly unique to the player being honored.

Covering a very different topic for poetry, this collection is a quick read for tennis fans, who will certainly be able to relate to many of the stories told. Poetry readers should also enjoy the variety of ways that free verse poems can cover this single topic. It was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I wish to thank Dr. Sedarat for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Emotional Terrorist
Arabella Barbour
Sandpeddler Press
9780692657195, $19.99 PB, $14.99 Kindle, 246pp,

DooWop Dan

You will not be bored. This just goes to show that a memoir doesn't have to be written by someone "famous" to be a page-turner. The writing is punchy and vivid; you will not be bored. Actually, it's like staring in horrified fascination at the proverbial slow-motion car wreck, complete with skids, slides, multiple collisions, and several end-over-end flips -- except that by the time you're halfway through, you know the driver and all the passengers (especially the poor little girl in the back seat). There's heartbreaking betrayal along the way but, ultimately, the story is one of triumph, because some people never understand what has happened to them and why. Congratulations to the author not just for figuring it out and surviving (and managing to raise a great kid), but for dwelling on the positive present instead of the tragic past.

Feeding the Enemy
J. R. Sharp
Koehler Books
210 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781633933156, $24.95 HC, $4.99 Kindle, 216pp
9781633393250,$14.95, PB, 216pp,

The Columbia Review of Books

For readers who love the great novels of the Second World War and yearns for another deep and thoughtful story told against that great human drama, Feeding the Enemy by J.R. Sharp will be highly satisfying, providing both laughter and tears.

The author managed to utilize a broad canvas to tell a very personal story for a unique cast of characters, centering on an Italian family caught in the fire of the fascists' war. Protagonists are led by Pietro Zucchet, a veteran of the First World War and the family patriarch, who is engaged in his own war here - a war for the survival of his family members, which he fights with ingenuity and verve.

His daughter, Catherina, is perhaps the novel's emotional linchpin, as we journey with her from youth and charming naivety through marriage and motherhood, all the while fighting alongside Pietro for survival and, not less important, dignity. Gino, her love, gives us a front-row seat to what Italian soldiers of that time experienced, both in battle and back home.

J.R. Sharp tells us this grand story with multiple layers of depth, enriched by an original setting and creative circumstances, which together make for a spellbinding novel. Based on a true story, the novel is thick with the texture of real life. Events unfold naturally to create conflicts and interactions between the characters and a world caught in turmoil and bloodshed. There's passion and romance, life and death, suspense and lust, all told with an underlying sense of foreboding and hope, which the author applies at just the right measure. Feeding the Enemy is a well written and inspiring novel that's not only heartfelt, but also sophisticated and thought provoking in the best tradition of the greatest historical novels. Well done!

Order of Succession
Bill Thompson
Ascendente Books
9780996467100, $12.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 264pp,

Todd Simpson 

Wow, this book really impressed me. You can tell straight away that the Author has a talent for writing. This was such an easy and enjoyable book to read. Losing the Vice President of the USA in a lost plane is an absolute tragedy. However losing the President 30 minutes later in Airforce One puts a very sinister spin on things. One plane down could be an accident, however two planes missing with a couple of the world's most powerful men can't be a coincidence. It's not just America that feels the shock of their loss, and the world financial markets go into melt down. The Speaker of the House being third in succession takes over the presidency. Cham Parkes isn't at all upset that he has been thrust into the top job, and his first order of business is top put the country into Defcon 1. However 24 hours later he puts the country back to Defcon 3, as it's his way of getting everything back under control. Problem is he's just a bit too confident that they are no longer under attack. The power has definitely gone to his head and he isn't making any friends with his brash and abusive style. If you enjoy thrillers that are full of suspense, action and a very clever plot, then you will certainly enjoy this book.

Bill Thompson became a corporate entrepreneur early when at age 12, he started a company that bought and sold coins. By age 25 he had founded an insurance agency that became one of the largest in Oklahoma. Expanding and adding to that firm, Thompson created a financial services holding company that operated in several states plus Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and England. He later sold his interests and joined his son as an executive in a computer memory manufacturing and distribution company, which by 1995 had grown to be in the top ten nationally by sales.

When that company sold, he decided to pursue a lifelong passion - writing archaeological thrillers. His burning interest in ancient sites, mysteries of the past, unexplained things in the jungle and stories of adventure in remote places drove him to frequent trips around the world. He has visited numerous historically significant sites, including Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Avebury, Egypt, Petra and many ancient Olmec, Aztec and Maya cities in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

For more information, please visit, and connect with Thompson through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Order of Succession can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Breach Of Consciousness
Peter Castillo
Privately Published
9780692678237, $8.18 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 200pp,

Romuald Dzemo, Reviewer

Breach of Consciousness by Peter Castillo is a uniquely sculpted thriller, the kind of story that will entertain and have readers in its thrall. During his early years, Marco Torres suffers from unusual and sporadic migraines and they set him apart from his mates. Anxious and desirous of finding out the reason behind the migraines, the young Marco undertakes research, but doesn't grasp what is happening to him. He will be afflicted by the same phenomenon as he grows into adulthood, only this time he has visions of a homeless man. Becoming a writer and serving in the Navy don't offer a moment's respite. But when Marco meets a couple with a similar problem, a new path opens before Marco and, teamed with the couple, he has to solve a murder. But the question is: Does he have the strength to handle his extraordinary gift?

"Our gifts are our crosses" is a saying I have heard many times, one I have grown up to believe in, and this book seems to corroborate this message in a very succinct and powerful way. It seems one of the key themes of the book is self-exploration and what happens when we accept who we are, weird as we could be. Peter Castillo is a great storyteller and I enjoyed the way he used the first person narrative, the ability to draw readers into the narrator's worldview and perception of reality without sacrificing the point of view of other characters. Character development seems to be one of the author's fortes, and watching the protagonist grow from a troubled young man unable to understand his gifts, to a confident adult harnessing his skills for a purpose will be very rewarding to readers. Breach of Consciousness is a well-written and polished work that is highly entertaining. I won't hesitate to recommend this one for its insightful life lessons and entertainment. An unusual thriller with a beautiful message of hope.

Romuald Dzemo earned a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Grand Seminaire Paul VI, after seven years of rigorous formation for the Celibate Priesthood, a journey he eventually abandoned in pursuit of what he calls his "personal legend." He writes the column "Success Keys" for the Grasslander Magazine, a bi-monthly publication that is widely read by the Anglophone Cameroonian community.

An avid reader, he enjoys sharing his opinions about the books he reads and hopes they will benefit the authors and their readers. He currently lives in Manila with his wife and two kids.

The Light of the World: The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth
Tim Spiess
The Light Publishing
9780692300480, $13.58 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 382pp,

eLit Awards

A deep, well executed and thought out approach on the diversion of belief -- mainstream Christian biblical sacred teachings versus the actions and words/teachings of the first hand Jesus of Nazareth. Mind bending insight that creates many questions (more than answers). By highlighting scriptures from the NASB, Spiess eats away through fads to get to facts to better understand true interpretation first hand. - Interesting points; - Unique approach; - Well written and good examples; - Very in depth writing

The Jakkattu Vector
P.K. Tyler
Evolved Publishing LLC
9781622532742, $3.99 ($0.99 for pre-order), 300pp

EE Giorgi, Reviewer

Goodreads Book Link:

Jakkattu is the first book in a saga that ultimately becomes a metaphor of humanity itself as it struggles to find its role in a world where humans are defective, aliens are taken into slavery, and priests engage in cruel genetic experiments. With Jakkattu, Ms. Tyler has created a new genre where she takes old traditions and myths and projects them onto a future, that, despite its high technology, it's still polluted by slavery, prejudice, and exploitation. Her strong world building is made even more extraordinary by the exquisite detail and attention in creating new people and cultures.

The October Testament
Ruth Magnusson Davis
Baruch House Publishing
9780994922700, $55.00 US / $65.00 CAD,
9780994922717, $30.00, PB, 434pp,

Pastor Victor Stevens-Rosenberg

Having a facsimile of the English Matthew Bible in my library, I always wondered why no one took the 1549 or the 1537 editions and brought the scripture up-to-date using more fitting and understandable language for the 21st century. Then, some time ago, when I was doing research on the Matthew Bible, I discovered Ruth, and just what I had hoped for: a New Matthew Bible (NMB) in a form of English that doesn't require old English dictionaries in order to understand the text.

Ruth M. Davis has brought one of the most important Bibles in English history, the Matthew Bible, to a new plateau, which I find both poised and balanced between the paraphrase and the literal. The NMB contains a startling clarity, but not at the expense of beautifully crafted sentences, echoing the KJV, while flowing much better. Flow, flow, flow is how I describe the NMB when I compare it to other Bible versions. The NMB is just a better 'epic poem' conveying the Word of God; a greater art of God's Inspired word to man than all other published translations.

When I read/study the NMB, it seems I am almost breathing in God's long letter to me. For words to flow on the page of the most important book of all time, the Holy Bible, they must be coupled with poise and beauty upheld by the English language.

The NMB is God's grace and power woven into the context of God's holy words.

The Quantum Cop
Lesley L. Smith
Quarky Media
PO Box 3332, Boulder, CO 80307
9780986135026, $8.99, 286pp


'The Quantum Cop' by Lesley L. Smith Shows The Power Of Physics

The Quantum Cop is the first book in a series by Lesley L. Smith. It follows Madison Martin, a physics professor, as she tries to control her abilities and stop an evil student.

There aren't a lot of fictional books out there that have female protagonists belonging to STEM fields. So, reading a story about Madison, a physics professor, felt enjoyably different to me. She is an expert in quantum physics. This allows her to unlock the ability to alter reality. I love reality manipulation powers. Wiccan from Marvel is one of my favorite comic book characters. However, how Lesley explains reality manipulation in the story has more to do with physics rather than magic. There are a lot of scientific explanations throughout the story.

I'm a geneticist. So, it was kind of tough for me to fully understand what was going on. The author herself has a Ph.D in Elementary Particle Physics. You can tell she knows what she's talking about when explaining Madison's powers. However, if you aren't into physics and don't spend too much time trying to understand every detail you'll have a better reading experience. Don't allow the fear of too many physics related complexities stop you from reading this story.

The Quantum Cop sets up one of Madison's students as the antagonist. He figures out how she is able to manipulate reality and, along with his friends, starts a quantum crime spree. The pace of the book is fast. It is fun to tag along with Madison as she tries to stop her student from potentially destroying reality itself.

Madison as a character is quite likable. She is a force to be reckoned with in her field. But she does have her emotionally vulnerable moments. She also starts a relationship with a physicist. I'm not into romantic entanglements. I feel that a lot of them push down a female character for the sake of her male counterpart. However, that wasn't the case here. I liked that two physicists hooked up. It isn't common to see characters from the field of science being shown in romantic relationships.

The Quantum Cop demonstrates how an interesting female character, with some powerful knowledge of physics, can make for a very enjoyable story.

Bethany's Bookshelf

Inventing Loreta Velasquez
William C. Davis
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive
SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809335220, $39.95, HC, 376pp,

Synopsis: She went by many names (Mary Ann Keith, Ann Williams, Lauretta Williams, and more) but history knows her best as Loreta Janeta Velasquez, a woman who claimed to have posed as a man to fight for the Confederacy. In "Inventing Loreta Velasquez: Confederate Soldier Impersonator, Media Celebrity, and Con Artist, academician and Civil War historian William C. Davis delves into the life of one of America's early 19th Century celebrities, peeling back the myths she herself created to reveal a startling and even more implausible reality.

This groundbreaking biography reveals a woman quite different from the public persona she promoted. In her bestselling memoir, "The Woman in Battle", Velasquez claimed she was an emphatic Confederate patriot, but in fact she never saw combat. Instead, during the war she manufactured bullets for the Union and persuaded her Confederate husband to desert the Army.

After the Civil War ended, she wore many masks, masterminding ambitious confidence schemes worth millions, such as creating a phony mining company, conning North Carolina residents to back her financially in a fake immigration scheme, and attracting investors to build a railroad across western Mexico.

With various husbands, Velasquez sought her fortune both in the American West and in the Klondike, though her endeavors cost one husband his life.

She also became a social reformer advocating on behalf of better prison conditions, the Cuban revolt against Spain, and the plight of Cuban refugees.

Velasquez was also one of the first women to venture into journalism and presidential politics. Always a sensational press favorite, she displayed throughout her life an uncanny ability to manipulate popular media and to benefit from her fame in a way that prefigured celebrities of our own time, including using her testimony in a Congressional inquiry about Civil War counterfeiting as a means of promoting her latest business ventures.

So little has been known of Velasquez's real life that some postmodern scholars have glorified her as a "woman warrior" and used her as an example in cross-gender issues and arguments concerning Hispanic nationalism. Davis firmly refutes these notions by bringing the historical Velasquez to the surface. The genuine story of Velasquez's life is far more interesting than misguided interpretations and her own fanciful inventions.

Critique: A superbly researched, impressively well written, deftly organized and presented biographical history, "Inventing Loreta Velasquez: Confederate Soldier Impersonator, Media Celebrity, and Con Artist" is a consistently compelling read from cover to cover. Nicely enhanced with occasional illustrations, and featuring sixty-six pages of Notes, a twenty page Bibliography, and a nine page Index, "Inventing Loreta Velasquez" is a highly recommended and extraordinary addition for community and academic library American History and 19th Century American biography collections. For academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Inventing Loreta Velasquez" is also available in a Kindle format ($31.16).

Choosing Buddhism
Mauro Peressini
Mercury Series
c/o University of Ottawa Press
542 King Edward, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 6N5
9780776623313, $54.95, PB, 446pp,

Synopsis: "Choosing Buddhism: The Life Stories of Eight Canadians " by Mauro Peressini (Curator of Social History at the Canadian Museum of History) explores the experience of Canadians who chose to convert to Buddhism and to embrace its teachings and practices in their daily lives. It presents the life stories of eight Canadians who first encountered Buddhism between the late 1960s and the 1980s, and are now ordained or lay Buddhist teachers.

In recent census records, over 300,000 Canadians identified their religious affiliation as Buddhist. The great majority are of Asian origin and were born into Buddhist families or were Buddhist at the time of their arrival in Canada. Since the late 1960s, however, the number of Canadians converting to Buddhism has doubled every decade, and this demographic now includes more than 20,000 individuals. The eight Canadians whose life stories are featured in this book are among the very first to have chosen Buddhism. Their first-hand accounts shed light on why and how people convert to a religion from such distant shores.

"Choosing Buddhism" also offers contextual material (photos and texts) that complements the eight life stories. This material is meant to help readers enrich their understanding of the life stories by offering them the information they need to better grasp the meaning of the Buddhist notions mentioned, and the broader historical and spiritual contexts of the biographical accounts.

Critique: A seminal and detailed study,"Choosing Buddhism" is impressively informative and is especially commended to the attention of both academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Buddhism. A unique introduction to Buddhism and to what it means to lead a Buddhist life in contemporary Canada, "Choosing Buddhism" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Canadian Cultural Studies collections.

Rumi's Little Book of Love and Laughter
Coleman Barks
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781571747617, $14.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (30 September 1207 - 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi's influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. Rumi has been described as the "best selling poet" in the United States.

Coleman Barks is an American poet, a former faculty member at the University of Georgia, and a renowned interpreter of Rumi and other mystic poets.

Rowdy, ecstatic, and sometimes stern, these teaching stories and fables that Barks has selected for inclusion into "Rumi's Little Book of Love and Laughter" reveal new and very human properties in Rumi's vision. Included here are the notorious "Latin parts" that Reynold Nicholson felt were too unseemly to appear in English in his 1920s translation. For Rumi, anything that human beings do (however compulsive) affords a glimpse into the inner life.

"Rumi's Little Book of Love and Laughter" is comprised of more than 40 fables or teaching stories that deal with love, laughter, death, betrayal, and the soul. The stories are exuberant, earthy, and bursting with vitality--much like a painting by Hieronymus Bosch or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The characters are guilty, lecherous, tricky, ribald, and finally possessors of opened souls.

Critique: Superbly translated into English for an American readership, "Rumi's Little Book of Love and Laughter: Teaching Stories and Fables" is a highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Islamic Studies & Poetry collections in general, and Rumi supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rumi's Little Book of Love and Laughter: Teaching Stories and Fables" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir
Susan Daitch
City Lights Publishers
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
9780872867000, $16.95, PB, 312pp,

Synopsis: A series of archeological expeditions unfolds through time, each one looking for the ruins of a fabled underground city-state that once flourished in a remote province near the border of present-day Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Sealed off for centuries by seismic activity, Suolucidir beckons with the promise of plunder and the glory of discovery, fantasies as varied as the imaginations of her aspiring modern-day conquerors.

As the tumult of the twentieth century's great wars, imperial land grabs and anti-colonial revolutions swirl across its barren, deserted landscape, the ancient city remains entombed below the surface of the earth. A succession of adventurers, speculators and unsavory characters arrive in search of their prize, be it archeological treasure, oil, or evidence of crimes and punishments. Intrigue, conspiracies, and counter-plots abound, and contemporary events interfere with each expedition, whether in the form of the Axis advance, British Petroleum, or the Revolutionary Guards. People disappear, relics are stolen, and the city closes in upon itself once more.

"The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir" takes place against a background of actual events, in a part of the world with a particular historical relationship to Russia and the West. But though we are treated to visual "evidence" of its actual existence, Suolucidir remains a mystery, perhaps an invention of those who seek it, a place where history and identity are subject to revision, and the boundaries between East and West are anything but solid, reliable, or predictable.

Critique: An impressively skilled and original storyteller of the first order, Susan Daitch's "The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir" is a unique, compelling and deftly crafted read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Of This New World
Allegra Hyde
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609384432, $16.00, PB, 124pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Of This New World", author Allegra Hyde offers a menagerie of utopias: real, imagined, and lost. Starting with the Garden of Eden and ending in a Mars colony, the stories wrestle with conflicts of idealism and practicality, communal ambition and individual kink. Her short stories jump between genres, from historical fiction to science fiction, realism to fabulism, but each of them basically asks a fundamental human question: is paradise really so impossible?

Over the course of her twelve short stories, Hyde writes with a mix of lyricism, humor, and masterful detail.

The stories range from a group of environmental missionaries seeks to start an ideal eco-society on an island in The Bahamas, only to unwittingly tyrannize the local inhabitants; to a neglected daughter of a floundering hippie commune who must adjust to conventional life with her un-groovy grandmother; to a young woman haunted by her years at a collegiate idyll eulogizing a friendship; to an antebellum vegan who after indenturing his only son to the Shakers turns to Louisa May Alcott's famous family for help. And in the final story, a former drug addict chases a second chance at life in a government-sponsored space population program.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Of This New World" is Allegra Hyde's debut as a short story writer, this outstanding anthology is especially recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Of This New World' is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Life Creative
Wendy Speake & Kelli Stuart
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444104, $14.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: "Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom" is essentially a celebration of motherhood, creativity, and the faith that binds them.

In our age of handcrafted children's parties, artistic Instagram photos, tutorials for renovating old furniture into new treasures, and blogs filled with poetry, prose, and other creative expression, it is clear that a brand-new generation of creative women is coming into their own. What is happening today is a a veritable coming from kitchens and nurseries and living rooms around the world. But when Christian women become mothers, they often feel expected to lay down their creative pursuits in order to properly parent.

Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart know that struggle. While they acknowledge that some seasons of mothering require setting artistic pursuits aside, they also persuasively argue in the pages of "Life Creative" that these seasons don't have to last until empty nest time. Instead, mothers with creative gifts are called to actively use them in order to bless their families, their communities, and everyone they encounter.

"Life Creative" celebrates and showcases the ways mothers can live their art in the midst of their mothering through the illustrative stories of women such as author and speaker Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb, and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard. By following God's leading to embrace His gifts, renaissance moms can model the joy of obedience for their families.

Critique: Informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, insightful, inspired and inspiring, "Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom" is especially recommended to women who would like to combine their homemaking and child raising with their innate abilities to be artistic and creative in the media of their choice. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Life Creative" is an especially recommended addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Life Creative" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Abiding Hope
T. Windhal, author
Brett T. Waldman, editor
Tristan Publishing
2355 Louisiana Avenue North, Golden Valley, MN 55427
9781939881106, $16.95, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: There are the times in our lives when hope is hard to find, when we often have more questions than answers, and when fear and worry clamor to be our constant companions. "Abiding Hope" by inspirational writer and speaker T. Windhal offers encouragement and inspiration for those times. Having endured many trials in her life, including four cancers within ten years, she has proven herself to be a survivor! In the pages of "Abiding Hope", T. shares important lessons learned amidst her trials. These lessons are shared within the form of short personal reflections.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Abiding Hope" is one of those life affirming, life altering books that will be turned to again and again in times of stress, hardships, and set backs. "Abiding Hope" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and would be an enduringly valued addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

The Haunting of Asylum 49
Richard Estep
New Page Books
c/o Career Press Inc.
12 Parish Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470
9781632650627, $15.99, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: Asylum 49 is an unassuming former medical facility outside Salt Lake City that stands next to a graveyard and is home to a full-contact Halloween haunt with a difference: the ghosts are all too real, and they are very willing to interact with the living. Hundreds of staff members, customers, and ghost hunters have encountered them firsthand over the years.

Readers will join paranormal investigator Richard Estep and Asylum 49 owner Cami Andersen for a behind-the-scenes insider tour of one of the world's most haunted hospitals.

Readers will learn of the ghostly children who like to tease unsuspecting visitors and the angry ER doctor who insists on things being done his way -- or else. The will explore the maze, home to a malicious dark entity named "The Guardian", and meet Jeremy, who died of severe burns and whose appearances are heralded by the smell of lingering smoke. These and the many other restless spirits have their own stories to tell, their own reasons for continuing to haunt the darkened rooms and shadowy hallways.

Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "The Haunting of Asylum 49: Chilling Tales of Aggressive Spirits, Phantom Doctors, and the Secret of Room 666" is very highly recommended and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Paranormal Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Haunting of Asylum 49" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Susan Bethany

Bonnye's Bookshelf

Larger Than Life
Jodi Picoult
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553392104, $1.99 Kindle only, 79 pages,

Alice Metcalf grows up with a single parent who pushes her to excel academically. After graduation from the university where she has worked in monkey research, she chooses to leave for South America to study elephants, her real passion. There is conflict with her mother who wants her to remain at the university where she was offered a professor position to work with monkeys. The two part in anger, each fighting to be right in considering what's best for Alice. In Africa at the Madikwe Game Reserve, Alice breaks the rules and rescues an elephant calf after poachers killed five of the elephants in the group, leaving the calf with no mother. Alice feeds the calf, and it becomes healthy, following her everywhere. In an attempt to reunite her with her group, the calf is rejected. Alice finds a distant location where the calf can be taken to live, since the group refuses to take her. She travels to the location and set up the transfer. On her return home, the calf is near death from her absence. As the story progresses, Alice learns much about elephants in Africa from the native ranger who assists her in the care of the calf. Essentially the information on elephants is fascinating and brings a reality to the story that without it might be somewhat flat. At the same time, it shows that trained naturalists can make mistakes that are well-meaning, sometimes endangering the very animals they are there to protect. This story contains that element. While the elephant comes to near death at the death of her mother, she does die from the loss of her second mother. That separation, unconsidered at the time of adopting the calf to the end, is all based on heart-wrenching overlooked basic essentials (leave nature alone) and unfounded assumptions (an adopted elephant would do well in a haven for elephants that cannot be returned to the wild, separated from her second mother). Unfounded assumptions - the same reason that she and her mother had become estranged. They, too parted on unfounded assumptions. The story is realistic and at times touching. It's a great short read, a novella. I'd highly recommend this for a community library general fiction section.

Totems of Seldovia: An Alaska Children's Adventure Mystery
Martin Robert Grossman
Publication Consultants
P. O. Box 221974, Anchorage, AK 99522-1974
9781594335907, $14.95, PB, 144 pp,

Seldovia is a tiny town located in southcentral Alaska at the Pacific Ocean. In Totems of Seldovia author Martin Grossman paints a delightful mystery told by the Teller of Tales. Charmingly, Grossman adds a bit of a wash with respect to the painting, the wash providing just a hint - not an illustration - of Alaska Native stories. A tourist to Seldovia would wonder how they missed totem poles. They're there, but one must look beyond the normal frame of reference to see them. Three children become involved in the secret of the totems of Seldovia: Jason, a ten-year-old boy, Mikey, Jason's friend, and Angela, Jason's tagalong sister. There is serious tension between Mikey and Angela, less tension between Jason and Angela. Totems of Seldovia is an enjoyable read of youthful perseverance to reach a goal. Designed for children, it does have an appeal to some adults as well, especially adults who want a short, slightly quirky, change of pace or adults who have children in their lives. I highly recommend this book for community libraries Chidren's Literature lists. Also available in e-book form ($6.99, 9781594335914).

Bonnye Matthews

Buhle's Bookshelf

Damning Words
D. G. Hart
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802873446, $26.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) was a reporter, literary critic, editor, author, and arguably the most famous American agnostic of the twentieth century. From his role in the Scopes Trial, to his advocacy of science and reason in public life, Mencken is generally regarded as one of the fiercest critics of Christianity in his day.

"Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken" by D. G. Hart presents a provocative, iconoclastic perspective on Mencken's life. Even as Mencken vividly debunked American religious ideals, says Hart, it was Christianity that largely framed his ideas, career, and fame. Mencken's relationship to the Christian faith was at once both antagonistic and symbiotic.

Peppered with iconoclastic quotes from Mencken's huge body of work, "Damning Words" superbly portrays an influential figure in twentieth-century America, while at the same time, casts telling new light on the crucial period in which he lived.

Critique: Impressively well researched and written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken" is a deftly crafted, extraordinarily informed and informative biography that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library 20th Century American Biography collections in general, and H. L. Mencken supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Leadership in the Eye of the Storm
Bill Tibbo
University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 2W8
9781442649941, $34.95, HC, 216pp,

Synopsis: particularly during times of distress and crisis corporations require great leaders and effectively practical leadership. Shareholders, employees, and longtime customers all experience firsthand the disastrous effects that poor corporate leadership can have on the human side of a business equation.

"Leadership in the Eye of the Storm: Putting Your People First in a Crisis" by Bill Tibbo (President and CEO of Bill Tibbo & Associates, and who over the past 32 years has led post-disaster teams for numerous events including the 2014 RCMP shootings in New Brunswick, the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2001 World Trade Centre attack) is a practical and inspirational instructional guide that will material help professionals create opportunity out of chaos.

"Leadership in the Eye of the Storm" offers real-world insights gleaned from the real life experiences of four North American profiled leaders who successfully navigated through the epicenter of their own storms by focusing first on the needs of their employees and families, and then the needs of their organizations. Events discussed include the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the SARS outbreak.

In "Leadership in the Eye of the Storm" Tibbo offers a framework emerging from these narratives that enable future leaders to identify and cultivate the skills and behaviors required to not only meet the challenges but seize the opportunities that arise in times of chaos.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is insight and even inspiring, "Leadership in the Eye of the Storm: Putting Your People First in a Crisis" is a critically important read for anyone with corporate responsibilities in our increasingly volatile world that is subject to unexpected natural disasters, terrorism, and economic upheavals. Enhanced with the inclusion of six pages of Notes and a fifteen page Index, "Leadership in the Eye of the Storm" is a critically important addition to corporate and academic library Business Management instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Leadership in the Eye of the Storm" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.22).

The Purloined Self
Edgar A. Levenson, author
Alan Slomowitz, editor
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138101678, $156.77, 290pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Alan Slomowitz (Supervisor of Psychotherapy at the White Institute, on the Editorial Board of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and the Internet Editor of the Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Action blog) "The Purloined Self: Interpersonal Perspectives in Psychoanalysis" brings together nineteen essays by Edgard A. Levnson (Fellow Emeritus, Training, Supervisory Analyst and Faculty at the William Alanson White Institute. He is Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology at the NYU Graduate Studies Division, Honorary Fellow at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, Honorary Member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Life Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association)in updated form, still as relevant, witty and informative today as when the book was originally published by the William Alison White Institute in 1991.

Edgar Levenson is a key figure in the development of Interpersonal psychoanalysis and his ideas remain influential. "The Purloined Self" covers his seminal writing on theoretical topics such as models of psychoanalysis, Harry Stack Sullivan's theories, and the nature of change, as well as his more familiar focus on practical analytic topics such as transference, supervision, and the use of the self in psychoanalytic clinical work.

The content of "The Purloined Self" ranges from more technical articles on psychoanalysis and general systems theory, the holographic dimensions of psychoanalytic change; on to issues of metapsychology; and then to articles devoted to examining the nuances of the therapeutic praxis. The general thrust of "The Purloined Self" is in the Interpersonal tradition and is a major contribution to a contemporary elaboration of post-Sullivanian Interpersonalism, and of the two-person model of psychoanalysis that has come to permeate the entire field.

With a new foreword by Donnel Stern (who is himself a major name in current Interpersonal analysis), "The Purloined Self" gives a comprehensive overview of Levenson's work, and its continued relevance in contemporary psychoanalytic thought.

Critique: Written with wit, wisdom, informed insight "The Purloined Self" is very highly recommended for college and university library Contemporary Psychology reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of psychology and psychiatry students and practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapists that "The Purloined Self" is also available in a paperback edition (9781138101661, $52.95) and in a Kindle format ($50.30).

The New Advertising
Ruth E. Brown, Valerie K. Jones, Ming Wang, editors
Praeger Publishers
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781440833427, $131.00, HC, 806pp, (2 Vols.), HC,

Synopsis: The era of "big data" has revolutionized many industries including that of advertising. A two volume set, "The New Advertising: Branding, Content, and Consumer Relationships in the Data-Driven Social Media Era" is a valuable resource that supplies current, authoritative, and inspiring information about (and examples of) current and forward-looking theories and practices in advertising. Compiled and edited by the team of Ruth E. Brown (Professor of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln); Valerie K. Jones (an advertising agency veteran turned Assistant Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Journalism and Mass Communications); and Ming Wang (Assistant Professor of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), "The New Advertising provides easy-to-read, accessible insights from both academic and industry experts that create frameworks for thinking about how to effectively connect with consumers today; examines how modern advertising works within our digitally focused, always-on-the-go society; will enable readers to understand how advertising and marketing has progressed to reach its current state as well as the many options available for connecting with and engaging consumers today and tomorrow. "The New Advertising" includes chapters written by luminaries ranging from Don E. Schultz (who is considered by most to be the father of integrated marketing communications), to Rishad Tobaccowala (who is the chief strategist of Publicis Group and member of its Directoire+, one of the industry's leading visionaries).

Critique: "The New Advertising: Branding, Content, and Consumer Relationships in the Data-Driven Social Media Era" is an impressive and seminal work of outstanding scholarship, making it a highly recommended and core addition to professional, corporate, community, and academic library Business Marketing instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The New Advertising" is also available in a Kindle format ($131.00).

Cornered! / The Long Ride
James McKimmey
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781944520120, $19.95, PB, 236pp,

Synopsis: James McKimmey's mystery 'Cornered!' is ths story of Ann Rodick, a woman who is a witness to murder. Now on death row, the murderer appoints his brother, Billy Quirter, to avenge him. So Ann goes into hiding, changes her name, her looks, and gets married. Now she is Ann Burley of Arrow Junction. But Quirter is still on her tail. But so is Bob Saywell, the local merchant who makes everybody else his business, particularly such a pretty woman as Ann. No matter that she s married to momma s boy, Ted. Or that the town doctor, Hugh Stewart, is also showing an interest. Saywell knows how to get what he wants. But when Quirter hits town one snowy night, all bets are suddenly off. In McKimmey's 'The Long Ride', Harry Wells sets up a bank heist with military precision. But what he hadn't figured on was the panic of his young accomplice. He didn't figure on newlywed Allan Garwith being in the right place and the right time and snatching the bag right out from under him. So when he finds out that Garwith and his young wife have suddenly answered an ad to join a carpool to San Francisco, he answers the ad as well. But so does John Benson, an F.B.I agent with a very good hunch on the stolen money. And Margaret Moore, recently divorced and anxious to get away from it all. And Miss Kennicot, man-hungry librarian out for a little adventure. This is one cross country trip that none of them will forget.

Critique: The late James McKimmey (9-5-1923 to 1-19-2011) was a prolific novelist whose career spanned some fifty years. Now Stark House Press has brought back into print for it's outstanding Crime Classics series two of his outstanding mystery stories with the publication of "Cornered! / The Long Ride" for a new generation of appreciative mystery/suspense fans. A riveting read from cover to cover, "Cornered! / The Long Ride" is very highly recommended for personal and community library collections.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Dennis Hopper: Colors, The Polaroids
Dennis Hopper
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9788862084765, $45.00, HC, 132pp,

Synopsis: After losing himself in Taos, New Mexico, for 15 years, the late Dennis Hopper (1936 - 2010) returned to Los Angeles in the mid-'80s. In 1987, on the verge of directing the movie 'Colors', Hopper made use of a Polaroid camera to document gang graffiti in Los Angeles. He was particularly drawn to the abstract shapes of overlapping paint that appeared when graffiti had been covered up or written over, reminding him, he said, "that art is everywhere in every corner that you choose to frame and not just ignore and walk by."

"Dennis Hopper: Colors, The Polaroids" presented for the first time in this photographic compilation are proof of that observation. Hopper firmly considered himself an "abstract expressionist and action painter by nature, and a Duchampian finger pointer by choice," subscribing wholeheartedly to the idea that "the artist of the future will merely point his finger and say it's art -- and it will be art".

In turning the instantaneous, disposable nature of the medium of Polaroid film into pictures as deliberate and final as an image achieved by an artist painting on canvas, these images represent the first part of Hopper's journey back to the world of photography, picking up where he had left off so many years before.

Critique: Very highly recommended as an addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Photography collections, it is interesting to note that "Dennis Hopper: Colors, The Polaroids" is in many ways a companion to "Dennis Hopper: Drugstore Camera", which is also edited and designed by Michael Schmelling, and presents Hopper's personal photographs taken in Taos, New Mexico.

The Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt Handbook
Govind Ramu
ASQ Quality Press
600 N. Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
9780873899345, $105.00, HC, 312pp,

Synopsis: Govind Ramu is a Senior Director Global Quality Management Systems at SunPower Corporation, CA. He is a licensed professional engineer (mechanical) from Ontario, Canada. He is an ASQ Fellow, Certified Reliability Engineer, Software Quality Engineer, Quality Auditor, Six Sigma Black Belt, Quality Engineer, and Manager for Quality and Organizational Excellence. He is a co-author of The Certified Six Sigma Greenbelt Handbook and also one of the major contributing authors for The Lean Handbook. He is a 2006, 2011, and 2012 Examiner for the California Awards for Performance Excellence (CAPE), and 2010 Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

In "The Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt Handbook" Ramu draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to create a definitive reference manual specifically designed to help both those interested in passing the exam for ASQ s Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt (CSSYB) and those who want a handy reference to the appropriate materials needed for successful Six Sigma projects. It is intended to be a reference for both beginners in Six Sigma and those who are already knowledgeable about process improvement and variation reduction.

The primary layout of the handbook follows the Body of Knowledge (BoK) for the CSSYB released in 2015. Ramu has utilized feedback from Six Sigma practitioners and knowledge gained through helping others prepare for exams to create a handbook that will be beneficial to anyone seeking to pass not only the CSSYB exam but also other Six Sigma exams. In addition to the primary text, the handbook contains numerous appendixes, a comprehensive list of abbreviations, and a CD-ROM with practice exam questions, recorded webinars, and several useful publications.

Each individual chapter includes essay-type questions to test the comprehension of students using "The Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt Handbook " at colleges and universities. Six Sigma trainers for organizations may find this additional feature useful, as they want their trainees (staff) to not only pass ASQ s Six Sigma exams but have a comprehensive understanding of the Body of Knowledge that will allow them to support real Six Sigma projects in their roles.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt Handbook" is a reliably informed and informative manual that should be considered an essential and core addition to technical college and university library Six Sigma based quality control reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Wines of the Finger Lakes
Peter Burford
Burford Books, Inc.
101 East State Street, #301, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781580801812, $18.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: The Finger Lakes are a group of eleven long, narrow, roughly north-south lakes in Central New York state. This region is defined as a bio-region and is a popular tourist destination. New York's Finger Lakes region is also rapidly establishing a world-wide reputation for its wines.

In the pages fo "Wines of the Finger Lakes: Wines, Grapes, and Wineries of New York's Most Dynamic Wine Region", Lansing, New York resident Peter Burford (and a long-time enthusiast of the Finger Lakes and its wines) provides the reader with a survey of the wines, grapes, and wineries of the Finger Lakes and descriptions of how the area is evolving as an important locale for Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and many other wines. The book looks at the grapes grown in the region, the terroir, and the unique effect of the Finger Lakes themselves on the region's climate and wine-grape production.

"Wines of the Finger Lakes" surveys the rich history of wine making in the Finger Lakes, beginning with the early 19th century, to a time when the Finger Lakes produced much of the wine consumed in the US. Author Paul Burford goes on to explores many of the most important and interesting of the over 200 wineries in the region that today produce world-class wines in one of the most beautiful areas in the eastern US.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, impressively written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Wines of the Finger Lakes" is an extraordinarily informed and informative read that is especially commended to the attention of anyone contemplating a visit to New York's Finger Lakes area in general, and who is interested in the rise of the American wine industry on the world stage in particular.

Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn
Will Hutchison
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764351471, $49.99, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, and commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25 - 26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

"Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn: Custer, the 7th Cavalry & the Lakota and Cheyenne Warriors" by Will Hutchison is profusely and beautifully illustrated, exceptionally comprehensive, informed and informative essay regarding surviving artifacts of Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn - some of which have never before published.

Years were spent photographing and acquiring artifacts in museums and private collections, which are presented here in vivid, high-resolution color photographs, shot from various angles with the researcher and collector in mind. The photographs are catalogued under chapters devoted to the battle, Custer's 7th Cavalry, and the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors who fought them.

Hundreds of photographic images accompanying the chapters are filled with informative descriptions regarding physical properties, history, origin of the items, and the stories behind them.

Critique: "Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn: Custer, the 7th Cavalry & the Lakota and Cheyenne Warriors" is a definitive work will that will be of particular and enduring interest as an informational resource for military researchers and historians, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. A truly seminal work, "Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Native American History and 19th Century American Military History collections.

Start & Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop
Jay Currie
Self-Counsel Press Inc.
4152 Meridian Street, Suite 105-471, Bellingham, WA, 98226
9781770402621, $18.95, PB, 136pp,

Synopsis: As laws change, North Americans are gaining greater legal access to marijuana through local and increasingly sophisticated marijuana dispensaries. But the rise of these dispensaries brings a mountain of challenges.

"Start & Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop: Wherever It Is Legal!" treats this fledgling industry as a serious prospect and identifies the best practices to start and run a marijuana dispensary. From business basics to ensure sufficient cash flow, to science basics to ensure proper sourcing and care of the products, author Jay Currie walks marijuana dispensary owners and entrepreneurs through the important and subtle steps to a successful and sustainable business.

"Start and Run a Marijuana Dispensary" is a detailed and comprehensive guide to create a successful business model and an effective operating plan to legally dispense marijuana and its related products. With "Start & Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop: Wherever It Is Legal!" interested readers will learn how to: avoid legal problems, maximize earning potential, create a sustainable business, and develop a business model and an operating plan to legally dispense marijuana and its related products.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the personal reading list of anyone contemplating or already engaged in the sale of medical and/or recreational marijuana in those states where it has become a legal business enterprise, "Start & Run a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop: Wherever It Is Legal!" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Business Management instructional reference collections.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Bill Hartack
Bill Christine
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476663623, $35.00, PB, 220pp,

Synopsis: Horse Racing Hall of Fame jockey Bill Hartack (December 9, 1932 - November 26, 2007) won the Kentucky Derby five times, and seemed to hate every moment.

"If only Bill could have gotten along with people the way he got along with horses", a trainer said. His impoverished upbringing didn't help: his mother was killed in an automobile accident; the family home burned down; his father was murdered by a girlfriend; and he was estranged from his sisters for most of his life. Larry King, his friend, said it was just as well Hartack never married, because it wouldn't have lasted.

Hartack was one of racing's most accomplished jockeys. But he was an inveterate grouch and gave the press a hard time. At 26, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Whenever the media tried to bury him, he would win another Derby. At the end of his life, he was found alone in a cabin in the Texas hinterlands.

Drawn from dozens of interviews and conversations with family members, friends and enemies, "Bill Hartack: The Bittersweet Life of a Hall of Fame Jockey" provides a full account of Hartack's turbulent life.

Critique: The candid and detailed biography of a uniquely memorable man, "Bill Hartack: The Bittersweet Life of a Hall of Fame Jockey" is a consistently compelling read that is especially recommended to his legions of fans. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Bill Hartack" is especially recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections.

Hokusai's Lost Manga
Hokusai, artist
Sarah Thompson, contributor
MFA Publications
c/o Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
9780878468263, $35.00, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: Katsushika Hokusai (October 31, 1760 - May 10, 1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. Originally drawn more than 200 years ago and recently rediscovered in an old box in the storage rooms of the museum, "Hokusai's Lost Manga" is a collection of Hokusai drawings should have been used to create the woodblocks for printing a continuation of his Manga series. But although scholars have found an advertisement announcing the title, there is no record of the book ever having been produced.

Ironically, if Hokusai's book project had actually been published, the drawings would have been destroyed in the woodblock cutting process. Instead, presumably after the decision was made not to publish the book, the drawings were folded and bound together. And so they stayed for nearly two centuries.

Sarah E. Thompson (Curator of Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), has studied the pages in depth for the first time, annotating them to help readers discover these drawings in Hokusai's own hand for themselves.

Although Hokusai is most famous today for the color woodblock prints that he made at the end of his life, he was best known during his own times as a popular book illustrator. "Hokusai's Lost Manga" includes the sort of lively, behind-the-scenes sketches of daily life that have made the Hokusai Manga so beloved, with appearances by imaginatively conceived sea creatures, refined flowers, heroes and a variety of craftspeople and laborers. Hokusai fans will find prototypes of many of the people and animals that populate the Japanese master's later landscape prints.

"Hokusai's Lost Manga" also includes an especially interesting series of fabulous astrological deities may reflect Hokusai's practice of Nichiren Buddhism and his devotion to the Bodhisattva Myoken.

Critique: A truly 'time lost classic', "Hokusai's Lost Manga" is an inherently fascinating and beautifully presented compendium that should be considered an absolute 'must' for inclusion into personal, professional, community, college, and university library Japanese Art History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Mr. Liquid Crystal
Terri Fergason Neal & Marian Pierce
New Insights Press
9780997335774, $18.95, PB, 348pp,

Synopsis: Although unknown to almost all Americans, the late James Lee Fergason (January 12, 1934 - December 9, 2008) changed their lives. He was the man who invented the twisted nematic liquid crystal display (TN-LCD), that is ubiquitously used today in the screens of smart phones, calculators, iPods, flat-screen TVs, digital watches, laptop and tablet computers, medical equipment, and many other devices.

Jim was one of the America's most prolific inventors, holding more than 150 U.S. patents and over 500 foreign patents. The examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reverentially gave him the nickname of "Mr. Liquid Crystal".

"Mr. Liquid Crystal: The Untold Story of How James L. Fergason Invented the Liquid Crystal Display & Helped Create the Digital World" is the inherently fascinating story of Jim's discovery of liquid crystals and invention of LCDs, a scientific journey that began in the late 1950s and lasted decades until his death in 2008.

From the day Jim noticed how liquid crystals formed a brightly colored iridescent liquid, he was immediately taken by their possibilities and devoted his entire career to creating practical applications for this new method of optical display. "Mr. Liquid Crystal" deftly explains in detail the science of liquid crystals, the false starts and "Aha" moments that Jim and his team went through to build usable and marketable LCDs, and the legal challenges Jim found himself facing.

Over the course of his 50+ year career, Jim's patents and inventions were challenged twice by companies claiming they invented and owned his work. In both cases, Jim won. For his lifetime of work, Jim Fergason was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1998.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Mr. Liquid Crystal: The Untold Story of How James L. Fergason Invented the Liquid Crystal Display & Helped Create the Digital World" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end and is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for community, college, and university library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subjects of scientific discovery, crystallography, contemporary patents and inventions, it should be noted that "Mr. Liquid Crystal" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Understanding Digital Marketing, fourth edition
Damian Ryan
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749478438, $29.95, PB, 464pp,

Synopsis: The world of digital media is changing at a phenomenal pace. Constantly evolving technologies are transforming not just how we access our information but how we interact and communicate with one another on a global scale. Now in a newly revised and expanded fourth edition, "Understanding Digital Marketing: Marketing Strategies for Engaging the Digital Generation " by Damian Ryan is a practical, detailed, no-nonsense guide to web-marketing, the rules of new media and researching the new generation of digital consumers. Clear, informative and entertaining, "Understanding Digital Marketing" covers key topics such as search marketing, social media, Google, mobile marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing, performance marketing, customer engagement and digital marketing strategies.

Critique: Replete with fresh examples and case studies, and the latest developments in the industry, as well as featuring in-depth insider accounts of digital marketing successes from internationally recognized brands and digital marketing campaigns, this newly revised fourth edition is absolutely essential reading for anyone seeking to market services or goods in today's highly competitive marketplace whether on a local, regional, national, or international basis. While very highly recommended as an essential addition to community and academic library Business Management & Marketing collections, business students and non-specialist general readers should note that "Understanding Digital Marketing" is also available in a Kindle format ($29.95).

Heaven Was Detroit
M. L. Liebler, editor
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814341223, $34.99, PB, 504pp,

Synopsis: Impressively researched, written, organized and presented, "Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip Hop and Beyond" by award-winning poet, literary arts activist, and academician (Wayne State University), M. L. Liebler is the first cultural study of its kind to capture the full spectrum of Detroit popular music from the early 1900s to the twenty-first century.

Readers will find "Heaven Was Detroit" to be a unique and stimulating anthology comprised of new essays, as well as a few classics by widely known and respected music writers, critics, and recording artists who weigh in on their careers and experiences in the Detroit music scene, from rock to jazz and everything in between. With a foreword by the acclaimed rock writer Dave Marsh and iconic photos by Leni Sinclair, "Heaven Was Detroit" features such well-known writers as Greil Marcus, Jaan Uhelszki, Al Young, Susan Whitall, Gary Graff, John Sinclair, and many others.

Divided into nine sections, "Heaven Was Detroit" moves chronologically through the early days of jazz in Detroit, to the rock 'n' roll of the 1960s, and up to today's electronica scene, with so many groundbreaking moments in between. This collection of cohesive essays includes Motown's connection to the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement through its side label, Black Forum Records; Lester Bangs's exemplary piece on Alice Cooper; the story behind the emergence of rap legend Eminem; and Craig Maki's enlightening history on "hillbilly rock" - just to name a few. With a rich musical tradition to rival Nashville, Detroit serves as the inspiration, backdrop, and playground for some of the most influential music artists of the past century.

"Heaven Was Detroit" aptly captures the essence of the Detroit music scene: the grit, the spark, the desire to tell a story set to the rhythm of the city. Fans of any music genre will find something that speaks to them in the pages of this seminal collection.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is a consistently compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking study, "Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip Hop and Beyond" is a truly impressive and highly recommended contribution to community and academic library American Popular Music History collections in general, and Detroit Musical History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. Indeed, "Heaven Was Detroit" is a seminal study that will be greatly appreciated by both academicians and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis
Mark S. Ferrara
Rowman & Littlefield
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442271913, $34.00, HC, 194pp,

Synopsis: One of the most important relationships that human beings have with plants is changing our consciousness -- consider the plants that give us coffee, tea, chocolate, and nicotine. In the pages of "Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis", Mark S. Ferrara (Associate Professor of English at State University of New York) challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in the spiritual and curative traditions of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from prehistory to the present day.

In highlighting the continued use of cannabis around the globe, "Sacred Bliss" offers compelling evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness.

Today, the growing utilization of medical cannabis to alleviate the pain and symptoms of physical illness raises the possibility of using cannabis to treat the mind along with the body. By engaging sacred and secular texts from around the world, "Sacred Bliss" demonstrates that throughout religious history, cannabis has offered access to increased imagination and creativity, heightened perspective and insight, and deeper levels of thought.

Critique: Most people are unaware that Cannabis (Marijuana) became a class one federally banned substance under President Richard Nixon as a means of his administration being able to jail counter-culture protesters of the Viet Nam war and suppress the rising influence of the inner city African-American population. Now after decades of politically-based governmental banning several states have come to recognize the value of the legalization of medicinal and even recreational marijuana. Against this national background, Professor Ferrara's "Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis" is a very timely reminder of the ancient and historical relationship of marijuana with religious ritual and native cultures around the world. Enhanced with sixteen pages of Notes, a six page Bibliography, and a three page Index, "Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis" is also available in a Kindle format ($18.35).

Hamsters in the Park
Robert MacGowan
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781326619633, $13.05, PB, 354pp,

Synopsis: "Hamsters in the Park" by Robert MacGowan is the story of a man is struggling to find the lasting love and the happiness he yearns for after a disastrous start to life. He defends his daughter against sexual abuse and is soon on the run from a murder charge. He flees across Europe and takes refuge in North Africa, right at the start of the brutal Arab Spring uprising of 2010/11.

"Hamsters in the Park" is tense, fast-paced thriller pulls no punches in describing how a sidelined social misfit steps up to the mark and tries to prevail over his past; to overcome the obstacles in his future, and at last succeed in any way he can. It chronicles the people he meets along the way, some of whom will stay in his heart forever, and an unlikely love affair which persists against all odds. "Hamsters in the Park" also includes some of the animals that they and any of us could meet on our journeys through life, and how they can so often enrich that journey.

Critique: Impressively well written and a consistently compelling read from beginning to end, it is interesting to note that the backdrop to "Hamsters in the Park" is the author Robert MacGowan's personal move to a new life in Spain and his experiences along the way. Original, exceptional, engaging, entertaining, "Hamsters in the Park" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Literary Fiction collections

The Whore Next Door
Annie Campbell
Anecdote Press
9780985179557, $45.00, HC, 302pp
9780692450925, $9.99, Kindle,

Synopsis: Part road story and part confessional, "The Whore Next Door" by artist and author Annie Campbell is a deftly written, charmingly tender, wittily joyful, consistently compelling, and beautifully illustrated memoir about growing up as a woman in a world of 'sex, drugs, work, motherhood, mistakes and triumphs, men and boys'. Each of the 106 succinct chapters covering her life from age 18 to 35 is wonderfully enhanced with the addition of a full page, full color Annie Campbell painting.

Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "The Whore Next Door" is an unreservedly candid, inherently fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking life story told with great humor and reflective perspective. The result is an autobiographical chronicle that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf.

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

Mother's Fury: Releasing the Trauma of Childhood Abuse
Maxine Marsolini
Ellechor Publishing House
9781937844202, $14.99

Maxine Marsolini, KRVR Blog Talk Radio co-host, author and president of Oregon Christian Writer's, pens a powerful true story of "physical, emotional and verbal" abuse from the perspective of the abused in "Mother's Fury: Releasing the Trauma of Childhood Abuse".

The account illustrates the effects of child abuse and the power of a mother's anger on the abused as well as the abuser.

Maxine met cameraman Charles Rice while filming a parenting series on God's love for all of creation, especially the children He created. Her words touched a nerve in the cameraman and he shared a devastating story of physical and emotional abuse. Instead of being raised by a nurturing and loving mother as God intended, Charles had never felt a mother's love or heard her say, "I love you." Because of her cruelty and rage he only knew excruciating pain and fear that began the day his father left.

He was five-years-old when his parents divorced and the "dangerous woman who'd given birth to him" assumed control. He still remembers running into the street that final day, screaming, "Daddy. Daddy...Come back..."

The words enraged his mother and she rained blows about his "head, arms, shoulders and back," then dragged him into the house by one arm, doubled over a five inch wide belt and screamed for him to "shut up" as she took out her fury on him.

Thus begins a compelling and "horrific parenting" story of pain, fear and hope wrapped in a son's love for his mother in spite of everything she did. Scripture references, quotes and "optional growth sections" are in regular text for both the abused and the abuser while Charles story is in italics.

Statistics reveal those who experience abuse are 1,000 times more likely to abuse, yet abusive mothers are not often talked about. Maxine wrote "Mother's Fury" to bring awareness to the issue and help "set the abused free" with questions and journaling space that follow the story theme.

Although a challenging read I couldn't put the book down until I finished it.

The Second Half: A Novel
Lauraine Snelling
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455586172, $14.99

'The Second Half" from award winning author Lauraine Snelling is a warm, character driven story of family and difficult decisions that challenge cherished dreams as retirement nears. A time when the stress and anxiety of working is supposed to be replaced with doing what you want, when you want and how you want to do it. At least that's how Ken and Mona thought their retirement years would be.

Ken's successful thirty-year career as dean of students at Stone University would conclude in a few weeks and he looked forward to sleeping in, fishing with the grandkids and having time to learn more about his favorite pastime - wood working. While Mona, who often battled depression, wasn't ready to retire. Instead, Ken's retirement would give her more time for her "event planning business" and Ken might even decide to pitch in and help promote it.

For their first retirement vacation they talked about traveling to Canada and taking the ferry from Vancouver, BC to Alaska and driving the Alcan Highway back home. Another consideration was a cruise up the picturesque Hudson River. For the first time in their married lives there were no schedules and they could plan just for themselves.

However life has a way of changing the best laid plans and for Ken and Mona a phone call from their son Steig, a special forces Army officer did just that when he said, "I'm being deployed to Karachi, Pakistan. Can you keep the kids for me." Without hesitation, they said yes since Steig's wife had filed for divorce and left him to raise 9-year old Mellie and 6-year old Jake on his own, yet, what about their own dreams?

Thus begins an inspirational story of real issues grandparents face when they take over the care and guardianship of young grandchildren like 9-year old Mellie and 6-year old Jake. Written with warmth and honesty it's a story of struggles with disappointment, fears and sometimes guilt when life doesn't go as planned. But most of all it's a story about love of family, faith and the power of prayer with a touch of suspense thrown in. Snelling is a five star read!

Every Time I Turn Around God Whispers in My Ear!
Barb Boswell
Privately Published
PO Box 578, Woodland, WA 98674
9780692691687, $13.99,

Barb Boswell, Washington author and speaker, penned a memoir of fifty-one encouraging short stories in "Every Time I Turn Around God Whispers in My Ear!" The inspirational narratives take readers "on a personal journey to the heart of the Father "with stories that prompt laughter and sometimes tears. However, all readings point to Christ and inspire readers to "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

Stories of one to three pages include a brief "reality check" (questions to consider) a simple "prayer pause" and conclude with "for the record" that offers an added thought or statistic at stories end.

Barb's favorite story, "Damaged Goods" (pg. 32) is about her six-year-old son, Matt who said, "I'm broken" when he was "injured on a kindergarten class field trip." Matt's arm had been broken and required a cast, but in the little boy's mind he was entirely broken and now damaged goods. The story theme is repentance, forgiveness and restoration because "the broken places, the damaged parts of our lives are gone," writes Barb. God says in Psalm 103:12, " far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."

The story, "Weighty Challenges" (pg. 18) concerns decisions, accountability and choices that brought Barb a "new body, a new hairdo" and the question, "What about a new attitude?" questions that plague many when life changes occur.

I especially liked the story "Dig In" (pg. 78) that highlights the importance of reading the Bible. Besides drawing strength and encouragement from God's Word every day, when we know what the Bible says about topics like marriage and homosexuality we aren't easily deceived.

Barb's story themes are "Be still. Listen and focus" and her prayer is that readers "don't listen to what the world throws at them," instead she advises to listen with their "hearts" for God's voice found in Scripture, an important message for the times we live in. Take time to pause and fire up your faith as Barb continues to share what she believes God whispers in her ear.

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence
Sarah Young
Thomas Nelson
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9780718039509, $15.99,

Missionary and author Sarah Young, best known for her 2004 devotional "Jesus Calling" that went on to sell over 17 million copies worldwide, released a new devotional, 'Jesus Always' this October. Sarah writes in the voice of Jesus in the same way A. J. Russell did with his classic devotional "God Calling" whose writings inspire Sarah.

The attractive, gift-sized book's theme and tone "explore the promises of joy" found in Scripture. From the promise of abundant life to living a life brimful of joy "by embracing Jesus...even during the most challenging times," challenges of which Sarah is very familiar.

The devotional includes 365 one-page readings taken from Sarah's personal thoughts and reflections from what she views as the infallible, inerrant Word of God - the Bible. Using the voice of Jesus personalizes Scripture for readers in ways that other devotions do not and Jesus' words are always italicized. Devotions conclude with chapter and verse Scripture references at the bottom of the page for additional study.

This devotional was a "marathon" task, writes Sarah due to an "international move" that caused her family to stay "in seven different homes multiple times" while she worked on the book. That also meant their family was disorganized and lived out of suitcases. However life events and difficult health issues also gave her "...more time to be thankful, to look for and find little treasures that brightened her focus on Jesus and enjoy His Presence".

For some, writing in the voice of Jesus is controversial, yet others identify more with the readings because it appears as if Jesus speaks directly to you. Sarah penned "Jesus Always" to encourage readers to spend more time with God, increase their joy in the Lord and to "strengthen their relationship with Jesus." I think she has done that and more.

Christmas Love Letters from God: Bible Stories
Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Rachel Clowes
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310748243, $16.99,

'Christmas Love Letters from God: Bible Stories' from Glenys Nellist uses a delightful combination of rhyme and prose to tell seven interactive, lift-the-flap, Christian themed Christmas stories for youngsters age 4-8.

Stories begin with Isaiah's prophecy in "Isaiah's Good News" and end with the wise men's visit to Jesus in "Wise Men Wonder." Also included are "Mary's Song," "Joseph's Dream," "Bethlehem's Road,""Jesus Joy!" and "Shepherd's Surprise" with stories and prophecies about Jesus' birth from the Old and New Testaments.

The oversized story book comes with an embellished cover. The stories are embellished with colorful and life like illustrations of Mary, Joseph and Jesus with animals, angels, wise men and more. Four page stories conclude with a message from God in the voice of Jesus similar to what Sarah Young uses in her "Jesus Calling" series. The small letter envelopes fold and attach to pages at story end for children to lift-the-flaps and read or be read to with space to personalize by name.

Stories also include "God's Perfect Promises," Scriptural promises that connect stories with Bible verses. For example when the journey is difficult like it was for Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, God's promise from Isaiah 45: 2 "I will march out ahead of you" renews faith and trust in God and can be easily memorized. The book ends with a larger fold-out card of sixteen blank lines titled, "My Gift to Jesus" for children's personal letters back to God.

Scripture is from the NIrV Bible translation which is a cross between a word-for-word literal translation and a more simplified thought-for-thought Bible translation. The engaging stories teach children what Christmas is and why it's important. They are age appropriate and enable children to connect God's promises to their own struggles and disappointments. "Christmas Letters from God" is a perfect choice to start a new family tradition with!

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Joshua's Bookshelf

Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer
John Mack Faragher
Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805030075, $15.74,

Daniel Boone has been exaggerated in every American story. The daring, courageous, handsome hunter from the back countryside of Kentucky is portrayed as a hero and a champion of the American frontier in the eighteenth century throughout many historical documents. Yet none are as riveting in both story and legendary writing as John Mack Faragher's book, Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer.

Daniel Boone was born from humble beginnings on the cold stone floor of his parent's cabin. When he was a child, Boone preferred being on his own; his strong-willed temperament pushed him further away from his parents, but made the young teenager a leader among the colonial society. Wanting to explore every day, Boone gradually grew used to the open frontier, engaging in outdoor activities such as hunting, slaughtering animals, and fishing. He even made friends with many Natives, which was unusual in this time before the Seven Year War. Being a part of both worlds' helped Boone find his niche as a pioneer. This curiosity of stepping from the colonial comfort into the unknown wilderness became a natural stance for Boone, enabling the young man to take a turn and eventually change the future of the nation. In Faragher's writing, one can read the biography of Daniel Boone, while also discovering the real aspects of Boone's life. The gentle treatment of his family, the constant friendliness and mediation with the Natives, the loyalty to his clan and community, and the adoration that Boone had for his wife, would all aid the frontiersman to be labeled as a gentleman and a true American citizen.

After the American Revolution, Boone decided to go on break, settle down, and transition from his role in the frontier to the plantation. He moved away from his roots, but his heart was never switched to the private life mode. He missed the wilderness and the open frontier. He did not know how to adjust to this new "peaceful" lifestyle. Thus, Faragher marks in great detail the sharp change in direction of Boone's life, where in the 1790's he began moving back into the woods. Even when he was aging and moving headwind into his sixties, Boone was determined to live out the rest of his life as a wild pioneer in the American West. There he lived the life of a hunter, a gracious servant to the American people, and an adventurer. Besides the myths and legends, Faragher dives you deeper into the personal life, or the other side of Boone that is unknown. The tale of a wanderer in the world; a man who seemed lost on the outside, but he knew what his future entailed on the inside. That is a fascinating story to tell, and also read. While reading, one can recollect the facts, and find out that Boone's future was always destined to be in the American West.

The book is centered around the expansion of the United States since its birth after the American Revolution in the late eighteenth century. When more territory was acquired, the colonial victors branched their cultures out westward, over the Appalachian Mountains and into the regions of Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky. Boone becomes important, as he leads the first settlers into the west. As a leader, he becomes a visionary stronghold for the new Americans. He is praised for his bravery, searching for new lands. After leading the migration to Kentucky, the legends and myths of the great Daniel Boone begin to take shape; a hero, who never let his people down. He strongly believed in public service and duty. And in difficult situations, he did not give up; self-less sacrifices were in the core roots of this pioneer. Boone made sure that his private life was overshadowed by his public life, as he was always ready to engage with the outside world and help the interests of others. Boone was the one figure that opened the doors to thousands of Americans, whom were willing to sacrifice their lives by going within the realms of the unknown in search for a better life. He was a true patriot that should be held to the same level of status as the Founding Fathers today.

When looking at the status of this book, one can assume that the work is academic history. Due to the fact that the author is a professor involved in academia, this assumption seems suitable. Unfortunately, I beg to differ. Even though the author is an intelligent researcher, and conducted his research on the book, the topic of Daniel Boone promotes a negative side to this argument. There is not much scholarship written on Daniel Boone remaining, as most of his letters to various colleagues and his wife were burnt. This means that there are not many primary sources written from the man in these present days; Faragher even states this problem in the Introduction. With little scholarship, in addition to no endnotes or footnotes, I do not consider this piece as academic history. The scholarship that is placed within the book is sufficient, but one can tell when parts are fabricated due to the lack of primary evidence in the first place. This lack of evidence adds more literature to the myth of Boone, and furthering his legend in the history books. The book, in some parts is enlarging Boone's image of popular imagination. Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer is a great historical read, and the author really did his best in order to tell the truth of Daniel Boone, but it is important to note that what you read in this book might at times be false.

With the minor episodes of myth in mind, Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer is a fantastic read. Diving more into the backstory of this legendary figure, the reader can see what lay beyond the myths of Boone. His family life, his religious views, and his actions within the frontier are described in detail; more detail than any other book written about the man. He was the man, who turned America into the progressive nation it is today, by encouraging the settlers to move west, offering a model of masculine vigor through hunting activities, and helping the nation move forward in a time of uncertainty. In considering Daniel Boone's life and the impact he left on the nation, Americans learned something of themselves and the lands beyond their own eyes. Even when there is little scholarship still remaining on Daniel Boone, I would highly recommend reading Faragher's book. Not only is it entertaining, the legend that everyone loves is blended with the remaining facts from the archives. The verdict concludes, and though some information might blow away into a myth, I say that this piece is a must read.

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Edward E. Baptist
Basic Books
c/o Perseus Books Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780465002962, $25.21,

Many books have been written about the American Civil War and the build up to the deadliest conflict on American soil. Most of the books that I have read in this particular time period in history have been about the battles, the military, the generals, and overviews of the political chaos in the 1850's. None have focused solely on the economic patterns during the nineteenth century. Edward E Baptist's book fell into my hands during a graduate history class I took this semester. As The Half Has Never Been Told was solely about the economic factors in the lead up to the Civil War, I found it strange. It was not a book that I would personally pick up and read, due to the lack of military or political facts. However, this book changed my thought about what the nation strived for during that build-up to war, and what American capitalism means today.

When thinking about slavery, one usually points out that the nineteenth century practice in America was a sin, due to the violence and torture of the African American population. People do not think highly of slavery. This book contradicts on the nation's thoughts about slavery, saying that even when the practice was morally wrong, the system built up the economic factors of capitalism, which are still displayed in the present day. Slavery was essential for the nation in the build up to the Civil War as it changed America politically, culturally, and socially. Slavery teared the nation apart, even within the chambers of Congress, where Congressmen from the south would rip apart their partners from the north. Terror flooded the floors of the White House, where many Presidents were stuck in the middle of the ongoing problem. Their role as a mediator was flaunted, and they soon found themselves trapped among the fixings of violence. Slavery would change the nation culturally, where African culture would weave through the southern lifestyles. Many more subjects would demand their individual rights, leading to more violence and racism. Generations upon generations would feed upon this fear and terror, leading to more violence, and influencing the seeds of racism seen today between whites and colored peoples. The social philosophy of this nation, including that from the economy would also have deep results from the impact of slavery. Life was by far easier in these days, due to the weight of the nation's elite resting on the backs and hard labor of the African subjects. Slavery literary split the nation apart, people hated each other, friends became enemies in business, and two separate distinctive economies emerged from the American Revolution. Capitalism had two different forms in the United States at this time due to the expansion of slavery, and no bonds would reunite until after the Civil War.

The Half Has Never Been Told goes into discussions about the forgotten stories of slavery, ones that influenced the forgotten politics, economies, and systems of government. In the political realm, it was the elites who communicated the process of slavery. The Founding Fathers had the chance to tackle the growing problem of slavery after the American Revolution when writing the new Constitution. Instead, through poor communication and discourse, they wanted to keep their own self-interests intact (many were slave owners themselves), and dismissed the issue. As time went on, compromises were made, and many Congressmen dismissed the issue time and time again, thinking that the sinful practice would just die out naturally. Indeed, it didn't. But apart from the sinful practices, slavery helped the nation grow and flourish in a time of uncertainty. The invention of the cotton gin spiraled economic successes for the United States, which in time would follow Britain's lead into the Industrial Revolution. Due to the expansion of slavery, the trade and economic systems of the United States enhanced and soon the nation would take the world by storm by overpassing Britain in economic strength after the Civil War. Due to slavery capitalism was formed; a system where trade was paramount in every aspect of life, and money answered many questions. Capitalism helped shape the foundations of the progressive nation as it headed into the twentieth century on a high tidal wave of success and achievements. So some might say that the Founding Fathers were to blame for ignoring the issues put forth to them, which in turn hurt the African American community and led to the growth of racism in the streets, especially in the south. But as Baptist's book shows, slavery was beneficial to the nation as it developed the capitalist system we know of today, and built the nation up from a weak pile of junk to one of the greatest economic powerhouses on Earth.

When reading this book, you can sense that the United States still has not paid the debt it put itself in. Capitalism is a useful system today, where our pockets are being stuffed with money due to our forbidden past. We still use the slavery system today; even when we have tried to forget about the horrors of slavery and the harsh treatment put upon African Americans, we are still using a system today that was built upon the labor of enslaved peoples. In reality, we are still using slavery. Capitalism might sound different, but we should always remember that our economic system still has a message that runs through it connecting us and the past. We must look ahead to the future, but the story that Edward Baptist tells shows us that we must also remember the true definition of the past.

Baptist accordingly utilizes many sources for this book, including articles from old newspapers, articles, and other scholarly works. Each source is effectively engrained into the book to fit the composition and aid in the flow of the facts. There are many themes displayed throughout, including masculinity, economic expansion, power, and violence. Each theme takes the book in a different direction, but all in all the end message of capitalism within the slave society holds the top standard. This book is also one of emotions. Many unknown and forgotten truths are represented. People need to understand this history, in order to understand the future of our country. This book places this direct message within its grip. Overall, this was an informative and interesting read. The Half Has Never Been Told is not a usual history book you would pick from a shelf and start reading. It is different from a regular biography or an historical non-fiction. It is a book with deep messages and illustrations. Messages about slavery and the nineteenth century economy of the United States. The book is both meaningful and interesting; the piece will definitely make you think more in depth about our past and heritage. Final Verdict: A recommend.

Joshua V. Chanin

Julie's Bookshelf

So You Want to Write a Children's Book
Rebekah Sack
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781620232293, $34.95, Library Binding, 223pp,

Synopsis: "So You Want to Write a Children's Book: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing and Publishing for Kids" gives the aspiring young writer everything they will need to know to successfully write and publish a children s book. From understanding the children's book market to learning about illustrations and design, "So You Want to Write a Children's Book" has it all.

Top publishers and writers in the industry have lent their expertise to the contents of "So You Want to Write a Children's Book" for the specific purpose of providing an accurate overview of everything that is needed in the process. Aspiring children's book authors will learn what morals and values publishers and readers look for in good children s books and what should be expected in a publication deal.

Writers will learn what material is appropriate for each age range and how to convey messages in a way that appeals to both parents and children.

Writers will learn how to build a relationship with an editor, what to expect in revisions, and the process of selling the book. Any young adult that is interested in starting any kind of writing career will learn valuable tips and tricks to understanding the publishing market with this conversational, easy-to-read book.

Critique: Rebekah Sack is a successful nonfiction author who has written several helpful guides for the young adult audience. Her passion for helping teens survive the rollercoaster of youth translates onto each page of "So You Want to Write a Children's Book: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing and Publishing for Kids". It is interesting to note that Rebeka Sack is currently an in-house editor for the Atlantic Publishing Group. It is clear that she has drawn upon her many years of experience and expertise to create a throughly 'user friendly', informed and informative instruction manual and guide that will prove to be an invaluable 'how to' reference for anyone of any age who wants to write books for young readers of any age, but especially in the category of Young Adult fiction/non-fiction.

Eastern Wisdom Western Soul
Richard Singer
Devorss Publications
PO Box 1389, Carmarillo, CA 93012
9780875168920, $14.95, PB, 166pp,

Synopsis: Spiritual enlightenment from the Far East has taught Americans that true happiness and peace comes from within a wisdom that transcends time and boundaries. As each new generation struggles to find happiness in an ever-changing world overrun by technology and media, few take the inward path to deep, long-lasting peace.

Richard Singer is a psychotherapist who has studied hundreds of Eastern-based writings and given them new life in today s world for people looking to apply this wisdom to the stressful and frustrating aspects of the 21st century. Based on the words of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, and others, in "Eastern Wisdom Western Soul" Singer has illuminated some of the most profound Eastern quotes with 111 meditations and contemporary applications. Each selection acts as a seed that he expands upon to create a practical meditation for a real-life situation, enabling the non-specialist general reader to recognize and accept the inner peace of his or her true being.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Eastern Wisdom Western Soul: 111 Meditations for Everyday Enlightenment" is an extraordinary read. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Eastern Wisdom Western Soul" is one of those potentially life-changing compilations of acumen, insight, and inspiration that is highly recommended for both community and academic library Eastern Spirituality collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eastern Wisdom Western Soul" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Growing Up in Armyville
Deborah Harrison & Patrizia Albanese
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122344, $38.99, PB, 215pp,

Synopsis: In 2006, eight hundred soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) base in pseudonymous "Armyville", Canada, were scheduled to deploy to Kandahar. Many students in the Armyville school district were destined to be affected by this and several subsequent deployments. These deployments, however, represented such a new and volatile situation that the school district lacked (as indeed most Canadians lacked) the understanding required for an optimum organizational response.

The collaborative work of Deborah Harrison (Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of New Brunswick and a former member of the Canadian Forces Advisory Council to Veterans Affairs Canada) and Patrizia Albanese (Professor at Ryerson University and past-president of the Canadian Sociology Association), "Growing Up in Armyville: Canada's Military Families during the Afghanistan Mission" provides a close-up look at the adolescents who attended Armyville High School (AHS) between 2006 and 2010. How did their mental health compare with that of their peers elsewhere in Canada? How were their lives affected by the Afghanistan mission -- at home, at school, among their friends, and when their parents returned with post-traumatic stress disorder? How did the youngsters cope with the stress? What did their efforts cost them?

Based on questions from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, administered to all youth attending AHS in 2008, and on in-depth interviews with sixty-one of the youth from CAF families, "Growing Up in Armyville" provides some answers. It also documents the partnership that occurred between the school district and the authors' research team.

Beyond its research findings, this pioneering study considers the past, present, and potential role of schools in supporting children who have been affected by military deployments. It also assesses the broader human costs to CAF families of their enforced participation in the volatile overseas missions of the twenty-first century.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices (Interview Schedule; Recommendations Made At The 2011 Project Symposium); seven pages of Notes; twenty-four pages of References; and a ten page Index, "Growing Up in Armyville: Canada's Military Families during the Afghanistan Mission" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. A seminal study of impeccable scholarship and the latest addition to the outstanding Wilfrid Laurier University Press 'Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada' series, "Growing Up in Armyville: Canada's Military Families during the Afghanistan Mission" is unreservedly recommended for college and university library Contemporary Sociology collections in general, and Child/Family supplemental studies reading lists.

Hokusai Pop-Ups
Courtney Watson McCarthy
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500518847, $29.95, HC, 16pp,

Synopsis: Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist born in 1760 whose legacy remains, some 150 years after his death, as important as ever. His work influenced Impressionism and Art Nouveau, and a range of contemporary artists working today.

Realized in jewel-like colors, Hokusai's simple views of everyday scenes in Japan, his sense of balance and harmony, and his highly stylized but ever-changing techniques seem to capture the spirit and traditions of his homeland. Comprised of 6 pop-ups in addition to five beautifully presneted illustrations, "Hokusai Pop-Ups" by paper engineer and graphic designer Courtney Watson McCarthy brings this stunning art to life.

Noted works such as Ejiri in Suruga Province, Chrysanthemums and Horsefly, Phoenix, Kirifuri Waterfall at Kurokami Mountain in Shimotsuke, The Poem of Ariwara no Narihira, and the iconic, instantly recognizable The Great Wave are accompanied by explanatory text as well as complementary quotes from writers and artists such as Degas and Van Gogh.

Critique: Stunningly beautiful, inherently fascinating, consistently compelling, a pure delight to browse through again and again and again, Courtney Watson McCarthy's "Hokusai Pop-Ups" is very highly recommended, especially for Japanese art enthusiasts.

Ross's Timely Discoveries
Michael Ross
Rare Bird Books
453 South Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angeles, CA 90013
9781942600831, $14.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Ross's Timely Discoveries", passionate bibliophile Michael Ross has currated 106 favorite literary quotes from the collection of over 1500 well-read books on his shelves. But "Ross's Timely Discoveries" this isn't your typical rehashing of Bartlett's quotations. What Michael Ross has done is compile quotes on Time, Memory, Age, Past, Present, and Future, from such a new perspective even the authors he has drawn from will probably find this pocket sized compendium useful and insightful.

The authors quoted include Tom Robbins, John Gardner, A.A. Milne, Anne Tyler, Bernard Malamud, Elizabeth Goudge, John O'Hara, Jim Harrison, Vladimir Nabokov, Ivan Doig, Richard Russo, Graham Swift, John Casey, George Garrett, Martin Davies, Cormac McCarthy, Willa Cather, Richard Brautigan, Colin Wilson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gore Vidal, Leon Uris, Walker Percy, V.S. Naipaul, Thornton Wilder, John Updike, Anthony Burgess, Paul Auster, Richard Powers, Richard Russo, William Martin, Robert Penn Warren, John Gardner, Aldous Huxley, John Hersey, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Antoine Laurain, Dave Eggers, Honore de Balzac, John Cheever, Oscar Wilde, Edward Abbey, Garrison Keillor, Lorrie Moore, Doris Lessing, Elia Kazan, Tom Wolfe, Sinclair Lewis, William Kotzwinkle, Eric Ambler, Thomas McGuane, Graham Greene, W. Somerset Maugham, Ethan Canin, Milan Kundera, and Hunter S. Thompson.

Also included are original illustrations by Cara Lowe of Hunter S. Thompson, Willa Cather, John O'Hara, Thomas McGuane, Eric Ambler, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Honore de Balzac, Dave Eggers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anthony Burgess, John Updike, Richard Brautigan, Cormac McCarthy, Richard Russo, Elizabeth Goudge, and Anne Tyler.

Critique: Truly exceptional and simply stated, "Ross's Timely Discoveries" is a bibliophile's treasure that is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, and academic library Literary Studies collection.

Surviving the Gulag
Heather Marshall, editor
Hans Rufolf Gahler, translator
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9781772120387, $34.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: The late Ilse Johansen (1916-1995) was a civilian member of the German military in Second World War. After her release from the Russian Gulag in 1949, she immigrated to Canada. Her personal autobiography, "Surviving the Gulag: A German Woman's Memoir" is a first-person account of a complex woman who survived five horrifying years in Russian prison camps: starved, beaten, and worked nearly to death. A story like Ilse Johansen's is rarely told. It is the candid and detailed account of a woman caught in the web of fascism and communism at the end of the Second World War and beginning of the Cold War. Her time as a prisoner, written soon after her release, provides startling insight into the trials of a German female prisoner under Soviet rule. Readers of memoir and history, and students of feminism and war studies will learn more about women's experience of the Soviet gulag through the eyes of Ilse Johansen.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly edited, and expertly translated into English, "Surviving the Gulag: A German Woman's Memoir" is an exceptionally valued and highly recommended addition to community library and academic library 20th Century Biography collections.

Hidden Thunder
Geri Schrab & Robert F. Boszhardt
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53575
9780870207679, $29.95, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Geri Schrab and Robert F. Boszhardt, "Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest", expertly provide readers with an up-close-and-personal look at Native American rock art. With an eye toward preservation, the team of Schrab and Boszhardt takes the readers along with them as they research, document, and interpret at the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs made by Native Americans in past millennia.

In addition to publicly accessible sites such as Wisconsin's Roche-a-Cri State Park and Minnesota's Jeffers Petroglyphs, "Hidden Thunder" covers the artistic treasures found at several remote and inaccessible rock art sites, revealing ancient stories through words, full-color photographs, and artistic renditions.

Offering the duo perspectives of scientist and artist, Boszhardt shares the facts that archaeologists have been able to establish about these important artifacts of our early history, while Schrab offers the artist's experience, describing her emotional and creative response upon encountering and painting these sites.

Diverse viewpoints by members of the Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe, and other Native nations offer additional insights on the historic and cultural significance of these sites. Together these myriad voices reveal layers of meaning and cultural context that emphasize why these fragile resources (often marred by human graffiti and mishandling or damage from the elements) need to be preserved.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest" is a seminal work of scholarship that is very highly recommended for academia and non-specialist general readers alike. Extraordinarily informed and informative, "Hidden Thunder" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to community, college, and academic library Native American Art collections in general, and Native American Rock Art supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hidden Thunder" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

The Purposeful Argument: A Practical Guide
Harry Phillips & Patricia Bostian
c/o Cengage Learning, Inc.
20 Channel Center Street, Boston, MA 02210
9781285438054, $123.95, PB, 704pp,

Synopsis: Emphasizing the practical and the local, and now in a fully revised and updated second edition, "The Purposeful Argument: A Practical Guide" by effectively brings argument into real life with community-based writing activities, illustrating that the tools and skills of argument are critical to readers today-and wherever their careers take them.

With a focus on accessibility, the text encourages students to argue in response to issues in a variety of environments-school, workplace, family, neighborhood, social-cultural, consumer, and concerned citizen-and learn how argument can become an essential negotiating skill in everyday life.

"The Purposeful Argument" offers thorough treatments of Toulmin-based and Rogerian approaches to argument as well as teaches the value of fully understanding the opposition, the importance of aiming for the middle ground, and how to use a microhistory to forge an unconventional position. The only introduction to argument written with the today's diverse student body in mind, "The Purposeful Argument" uses vivid explanations, detailed examples, and practical exercises to guide students step by step through the process of building an effective argument. In addition, a rich anthology of arguments covers a wide range of today's leading issues.

Critique: A complete course of instruction under one cover, "The Purposeful Argument" will prove to be an ideal textbook academic library Communications/Philosophy reference collections and curriculums, as well as supplemental studies reading lists. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "The Purposeful Argument" is also available in a Kindle format ($39.49).

Julie Summers

Katherine's Bookshelf

No Surrender Soldier
Christine Kohler
Merit Press
9781440565678, $17.99,

Christine Kohler has written an absorbing story in No Surrender Soldier. It is based on a true story about a Japanese soldier, Yokoi Shoichi, who served his country (Japan) in WW II and lived in the jungles of Guam for 28 years.

In Ms. Kohler's novel, the fictional soldier, Isumu Seto, lived in a small cave in Guam. Although a tailor, he had survived by his wits for 28 years. When he was finally discovered (not a spoiler because you know it has to happen), it was by a very unlikely person. The thought processes of the two main characters, Kiko and Isumu Seto are well-defined and interesting to follow. I had a hard time putting it down as I became more and more involved in the lives of the characters. Her description of the jungle and the town made me feel as if I was there with Kiko and Seto. I "played" baseball with Kiko and "hid" in the cave with Seto.

The story follows them through their lives just before Isumu Seto is discovered and into the aftermath. It also includes some interesting history about what happened in WW II on Guam.

This is an excellent story for young adults, but I know that adults will be fascinated by this period in history and enjoy it just as much.

Christine Kohler has been a reporter for the Pacific Daily News, a copy editor for the San Antonio Express-News and a teacher. She has lived in Guam, Japan and Hawaii with her Air Force family. She has written seventeen children's books, including Words Alive! Christian Writers' Skills & Prompts, Turkey in the News: Past, Present, and Future, Music Performance: Vocals and Band and several books in the Growing up Christian series. She now lives in Granbury with her husband.

PERONAL NOTE: I enjoyed it when she used Japanese words instead of the Americanized designation (for example, zories instead of flip flops).

No Surrender Soldier has garnered several prestigious awards and accolades, including ALA nomination for the ALA's YALSA Quick Pick list, The Military Writers Society of America bronze medal in YA.

Hot Work in Fry Pan Gulch
Jacquie Rogers
Camp Rogers Press
PO Box 34, Homedale, ID 83628
9781530697229, $9.99, PB, 206pp,

Move over Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley and Hallie Stillwell. Here comes Honey Beaulieu, Man Hunter. From the title of the book, Hot Work in Fry Pan Gulch, on the cover to the last page you will laugh, guffaw, chortle and give out big belly laughs! If you read it in public, you might notice a few strange looks, so beware. Tears streamed down my face a few times as I followed the antics of Honey, Sassy and Pickles along with the various other characters she became involved with and I was a little uncomfortable at the reactions to strangers around me.

Jacquie Rogers has started a new, absolutely hilarious, series about a gutsy, spirited "law person" (aka "bounty hunter"). She is Honey Beaulieu, Man Hunter, daughter of a madam and a bounty hunter. In this first book, she begins her law enforcement career by going after her first bounty. More interested in the bounty than the law, Honey chases down Ed Roxbury so she can acquire enough money to buy a house and to support a donkey and a mule that adopted her. Of course, certain events intervene to make her put personal dreams aside. I won't tell anything about them since that would spoil a lot of your fun.

Oh, I will mention, in passing, that she has a ghost with a sense of humor that floats in and out of her life - usually out when she needs him and in when she doesn't, in her opinion. But, reading between the lines, he considers himself to be there at the right time. And I cannot forget to tell you that there is also romance in Fry Pan Gulch (no not the bordello type) in the person of Sam Lancaster, U.S. Marshal.

I have read several books that purported to be funny and they did elicit a couple of chuckles from me, but Honey's escapades are much, much funnier and elicit more than a chuckle. Join me in reading the whole series (I hope Jacquie can write fast enough for us). And don't forget, when you read a book (any book) write a review and publish it online.

Jacquie Rogers lives in Seattle with her husband. She comes from Owyhee County, Idaho where many of her stories are set and was a real farm girl. She is a member of Western Fictioneers. Check her out on the Internet - she is so prolific even on the net, it is easier to just go to your favorite search engine and type in her name. She also teaches online courses in writing.

Katherine Boyer

Logan's Bookshelf

Wild Spaces, Open Seasons
Kevin Sharp, editor
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806154626, $45.00, HC, 204pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Kevin Sharp (the Linda W. and S. Herbert Rhea Director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee) "Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art" is comprised of four major articles by art experts traces the theme of hunting and fishing in American art from the early nineteenth century through World War II.

Describing a remarkable group of American paintings and sculpture, these erudite contributors reveal the pervasiveness of the subjects and the fascinating contexts from which they emerged. In one important example after another, the contributors demonstrate that representations of hunting and fishing did more than illustrate subsistence activities or diverting pastimes. The portrayal of American hunters and fishers also spoke to American ambitions and priorities.

In his introduction, noted outdoorsman and author Stephen J. Bodio surveys the book's major artists, who range from society painters to naturalists and modernists. Margaret C. Adler then explores how hunting and fishing imagery in American art reflects traditional myths, some rooted in classicism, others in the American appetite for tall tales. Kory W. Rogers, in his discussion of works that valorize the dangers hunters faced pursuing their prey, shows how American artists constructed new rituals at a time when the United States was rapidly transforming from a frontier society into a modern urban nation. Shirley Reece-Hughes looks at depictions of families, pairs, and parties of hunters and fishers and how social bonding reinvigorated American society at a time of social, political, and cultural change. Finally, Adam M. Thomas considers themes of exploration and hunting as integral to conveying the individualism that was a staple of westward expansion.

In their depictions of the hunt or the catch, American artists connected a dynamic and developing nation to its past and its future. Through the examination of major works of art, Wild Spaces, Open Seasons brings to light an often-overlooked theme in American painting and sculpture.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and engaging, "Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art" is an inherently fascinating and consistently engaging. Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, enhanced with the inclusion of a four page Selected Bibliography, an eight page Exhibition Checklist; and an eight page Index, "Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Art History collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art" is also available in a paperback edition (9780806154633, $29.95).

How to Score North American Big Game
Jack Reneau & Justin Spring, authors
Chris Lacy, illustrator
Boone and Crockett Club Collection
250 Station Drive, Missoula, MT 59801
9781940860107, $34.95, Spiral Bound, 224pp,

Synopsis: Boone and Crockett Club's world-renowned scoring system remains the benchmark for identifying mature big-game animals and healthy big-game populations. In the Club's newly-revised and expanded fourth edition of "How to Score North American Big Game: Boone and Crockett Club's Official Measurers Manual", the B&C scoring system is explained in detail using simple, straightforward language and more than 100 new illustrations by noted wildlife artist Chris Lacey. The new edition of the Club's official scorers manual is spiral bound for durability and easy, lay-flat reading with pockets integrated into back cover for safe keeping of score charts and notes.

"How to Score North American Big Game" offers the most up-to-date scoring techniques with easy-to-follow instructions for scoring all 38 species of North American big-game animals in the 17 different categories recognized by the Boone and Crockett Club with detailed explanations of the Club's records-keeping policies. In addition, "How to Score North American Big Game" delivers chapters on the Club's history and its records-keeping program. The new edition also includes an expanded chapter on category boundaries enhanced with detailed, full-color maps from onXmaps.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "How to Score North American Big Game" is an excellent resource for hunters of all skill and experience levels. "How to Score North American Big Game" is highly recommended for personal as well community library collections.

Looking with Robert Gardner
Rebecca Meyers, William Rothman, & Charles Warren, editors
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438460512, $95.00, HC, 335pp,

Synopsis: During his lifetime, the late Robert Gardner (1925 - 2014) was often pigeonholed as an ethnographic filmmaker, then criticized for failing to conform to the genre's conventions -- conventions he radically challenged. With the release of his groundbreaking film Dead Birds in 1963, Gardner established himself as one of the world s most extraordinary independent filmmakers, working in a unique border area between ethnography, the essay film, and poetic/experimental cinema.

Richly illustrated throughout, "Looking with Robert Gardner" twenty-one erudite and informative contributors that collectively assess the range and magnitude of Gardner's achievements -- not only as a filmmaker but also as a still photographer, writer, educator, and champion of independent cinema. The contributors give critical attention to Gardner s most ambitious films, such as Dead Birds (1963, New Guinea), Rivers of Sand (1975, Ethiopia), and Forest of Bliss (1986, India), as well as lesser-known films that equally exemplify his mode of seeking anthropological understanding through artistic means.

They also attend to his films about artists, including his self-depiction in Still Journey OnM (2011); to his roots in experimental film and his employment of experimental procedures; and to his support of independent filmmakers through the Harvard Film Study Center and the television series Screening Room, which provided an opportunity for numerous important film and video artists to present and discuss their work.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Looking with Robert Gardner" is compendium of seminal, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking scholarship. Enhanced with the inclusion of four appendices (Robert Gardner Biographical Sketch; Robert Gardner Filmography; Publications by Robert Gardner; Books about Robert Gardner's Work); a four page list of Contributors, and a six page Index, "Looking with Robert Gardner" is an extraordinary and highly recommended for community and academic library Cinematic History collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Looking with Robert Gardner" is also available in a paperback edition (9781438460505, $35.00) and in a Kindle format ($33.25).

Beer of Broadway Fame
Alfred W. McCoy
Excelsior Editions
c/o State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438461403, $29.95, PB, 538pp,

Synopsis: For more than a century, New York City was the brewing capital of America, with more breweries producing more beer than any other city, including Milwaukee and St. Louis. In "Beer of Broadway Fame: The Piel Family and Their Brooklyn Brewery", Alfred W. McCoy (holder of the Harrington Chair in History at the University of Wisconsin - Madison) deftly traces the hundred-year history of the prominent Brooklyn brewery Piel Bros., and provides an intimate portrait of the company's German American family. Through quality and innovation, Piel Bros. grew from Brooklyn's smallest brewery in 1884, producing only 850 kegs, into the sixteenth-largest brewery in America, brewing over a million barrels by 1952.

Through a narrative spanning three generations, Professor McCoy examines the demoralizing impact of pervasive US state surveillance during World War I and the Cold War, as well as the forced assimilation that virtually erased German American identity from public life after World War I. Professor McCoy traces Piel Bros.'s changing fortunes from its early struggle to survive in New York's Gilded Age beer market, the travails of Prohibition with police raids and gangster death threats, to the crushing competition from the big national brands after World War II. Through a fusion of corporate records with intimate personal correspondence, Professor McCoy reveals the social forces that changed a great city, the US brewing industry, and the country's economy.

Critique: An impressively informed and informative history, ""Beer of Broadway Fame: The Piel Family and Their Brooklyn Brewery" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, a four page listing of Abbreviations, seventy-two pages of Notes, a two page Bibliography, and a thirty-nine page Index, "Beer of Broadway Fame" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Beer of Broadway Fame" is also available in a Kindle format ($22.76).

Publishing Your Medical Research, second edition
Daniel W. Byrne
Wolters Kluwer
PO Box 1600, Hagerstown, MD 21740
9781496353863, $59.99, PB, 364pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Publishing Your Medical Research" by Daniel W. Burne (a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt University where teaches several courses on Biostatistics and Medical Writing) provides a complete course of instruction and practical information on how to write a publishable paper. This newly revised second edition includes additional details to help medical researchers succeed in the competitive "publish or perish" world. Using a direct and highly informative style, "Publishing Your Medical Research" does more than help write a paper; it presents the technical information, invaluable modern advice, and practical tips needed to get a medical paper accepted for publication.

Critique: A singular and thoroughly 'user friendly' source for novice and experienced medical researchers alike, "Publishing Your Medical Research" should be considered a 'must' for medical students, research physicians, medical scientists, and biostatisticians seeking to have their papers published. While a critically important and core addition to college and university medical school library instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading list that "Publishing Your Medical Research" is also available in a Kindle format ($47.39).

The Traditional Crafts of Egypt
Menha el-Batraoui, editor
American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018-2729
9789774167539, $49.95, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: Many traditional crafts practiced in contemporary Egypt can be traced back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Scenes inscribed on the walls of ancient temples and tombs depict the earliest Egyptians making pottery and papyrus and working with stone, wood, and other materials. Compiled and edited by Menha el-Batraoui (a theater critic and architectural journalist based in Egypt.) and translated into English for an American readership by Nabil Shawkat and Mandy McClure, the eleven chapters comprising "The Traditional Crafts of Egypt" explore these and other crafts that continue to flourish in Egypt. From copper and glass works to jewelry, woodwork, and hand-woven carpets and fabric, each individual chapter offers an in-depth look at one material or craft and the artisans who keep its traditions alive.

The contributors draw upon historical sources and documentary research; offer a sketch of the evolution of each craft, including an informative look into its origins; as well as the development of tools and methods used in the craft; and the diverse influences that have shaped the form and function of craft items produced today, ranging widely through the pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic, and modern periods. This historical examination is complemented by extensive field research and interviews with craftsmen and women, which serve to set these crafts into a living cultural context and offer a window into the modern craft economy, the lives of craftspeople, and the local communities and traditions they express and sustain.

"The Traditional Crafts of Egypt " is profusely and beautifully illustrated with vivid photographs of contemporary craft items and artisans at work, ranging from the coastal town of Damietta, to the far-flung deserts, to the ancient alleyways of Cairo.

Critique: Superbly illustrated throughout, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, informed and informative throughout, "The Traditional Crafts of Egypt" will prove to be a consistently compelling read and an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Reverse Diabetes Forever
Readers Digest Editorial Staff
Reader's Digest Trade Publishing
44 South Broadway, White Plains, NY 10601
9781621453277, $19.99, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly revised edition, "Reverse Diabetes Forever Newly Updated: How to Shop, Cook, Eat and Live Well with Diabetes" is only guide anyone would ever need to mastering their diabetes (type 1 or type 2), once and for all. In this comprehensive combination of health and recipe book, readers will find the latest science and expert advice that enables any to take effect control of their medical condition. Readers will learn how to shop, cook, and eat. They will learn how to transform favorite comfort foods into delectable, diet-friendly meals in a timely manner.

Readers can 'cherry-pick' from the menu of easy exercises until they have created a 15-minute workout that will trim the tummy and bring blood sugar numbers down.

What's more, readers will be able to understand how insidious stress can be. That stress can actually raises blood sugar and lower moods, making eating and moving more healthfully a nearly insurmountable challenge. "Reverse Diabetes Forever" offers scores of smart tips for putting a limit on daily stresses and banking sleep on the weekend (sleep is the top stress-busting secret of all time).

In addition, "Reverse Diabetes Forever" covers: The very best foods to eat every day for stable blood sugar; The simple guide to movement all diabetics need called "active living pyramid"; The latest studies on how periodic fasting, AGEs (advanced glycation end-products), gut bacteria, and workplace interventions can help beat blood sugar; Tools for tracking your diet, planning doctor visits, monitoring your medication, and more; More than 40 recipes for fresh, delicious, comforting meals, including French fries and chocolate cookies; and more than 700 practical tips and simple solutions drawn from the latest science.

Critique: Throughly and impressively 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, content, organization and presentation, "Reverse Diabetes Forever" is a profusely illustrated and comprehensive instruction guide that is as practical and effective as it is informative and inspiring. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Health/Medicine collections and Diabetes supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reverse Diabetes Forever" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.99).

Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern
Neisha Crosland
Merrell Publishers
8755 Lookout Mountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
9781858946573, $160.00, HC, 360pp,

Synopsis: Neisha Crosland is a surface pattern designer who is recognized internationally for her sophisticated and unusual color combinations, and her impeccable attention to balance and proportion. Oversized graphics and symmetrical geometric motifs typically characterize her designs.

Neisha sees pattern everywhere. Her extraordinary eye seeks out symmetry, order and structure wherever she goes: in artefacts, buildings, paintings and, above all, in nature. "Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern" is a tribute to that talent offering the reader a visual feast of pattern, color, unexpected information and surprising personal stories. It is also an exploration of why pattern matters to every single one of us.

In the pages of "Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern" she takes the reader from first spark of an idea to the finished product: exploring a myriad of cultural pathways and making unusual connections along the way. For in art, Neisha believes nothing is ever truly original.

There is fascinating technical detail, too, including wonderful examples of Neisha's early work using weaving and printing methods that have now vanished because of contemporary commercial pressures on mills and manufacturers. She also explores the ways a technique or color can completely reinvent a design, and how that design can alter its mood when placed in a different interior or when applied to a different medium or product.

Working sketches illuminate her argument as well as visuals of her key sources of inspiration. Abundant photographs, too - showing Neisha's work in the interiors of fashionable restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and homes around the world - strikingly illustrate the text. The patterns themselves are stunningly animated by Anikst Design's specially commissioned photography: magazine files become skyscrapers, fine china glides across mirrors, rugs take to the air and fabrics appear like wild seas and rivers. The result is a kind of visual onomatopoeia as well as a thrillingly surreal visual experience for the reader.

"Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern" is a loving tribute to the power of pattern that will appeal to anyone who appreciates beauty and has ever wondered why their eye is so delighted.

Critique: A large coffee-table art book, "Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern" is extraordinary, exceptional, impressive, inherently fascinating, consistently compelling from cover to cover. Beautifully and profusely illustrated, informed and informative, "Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Needle Craft Studies reference collections and personal reading lists. Indeed, "Neisha Crosland: Life of a Pattern" would make an excellent and enduringly popular choice as a Library Memorial Fund Acquisition selection.

A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story
Al Andrews
Worthy Publishing
6100 Tower Circle, Suite 210, Franklin, TN 37067
9781617958120, $14.99, HC, 96pp,

Synopsis: What started as a simple, late night stroll for a man who needed to clear his head from the hassles of the season turned into a life-changing moment. "A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story" is an enchanting and endearing holiday tale by Al Andrews (the Director of Porter's Call, a Christian ministry to recording artists in Franklin, Tennessee) invites the reader to take a closer look at the wise men, Mary and Joseph, and even the Christ child himself. Freshly repackaged with updated art throughout, "A Walk One Winter Night" reveals the joy and wonder to be experienced in the Christmas holiday season.

Critique: Deftly written, impressively illustrated, as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story" is a memorably reflective read from beginning to end and very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "A Walk One Winter Night: A Christmas Story" is also available in a Kindle format ($12.90).

Sylvia Riddle
Robert Coombs
Christian Faith Publishing
296 Chestnut Street, Meadville, PA 16335
9781635254877 $TBA digital
9781635254860 $18.95 pbk

Synopsis: The Sylvia Riddle is an epic poem set in medieval Scotland. The story maintains a Christian theme throughout as good battles evil.

As the story develops, a hero emerges. He learns that the beautiful Princess Sylvia MacBee has been hexed by an evil wizard (Satan). The hex requires that Sylvia cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle. An incorrect answer to the riddle has a fatal consequence. Eighty men have died attempting to answer the riddle, and there are no more suitors in Realm MacBee willing to risk death.

As the story unfolds, the hero, Knight Jude MacPhitt also learns that not only must he answer the marital riddle to save Sylvia from marrying Grooson, Satan's horrific son, but he must answer an additional riddle for each of the seven deadly sins. His woeful journey takes him to the depths of Hell. The Sylvia Riddle is filled with challenges, excitement, and love while dealing with many moral conundrums.

Critique: Crafted in the format of a rhyming, epic poem, with stanzas spoken by its varied cast of characters, The Sylvia Riddle is a fairy tale with elements of Christian allegory. The result is a grand adventure, ideal for connoisseurs of fantasy in search of something unique. Highly recommended! "It also seems to follow that a man who clutches Pride / Has stupefied himself, for in his arrogance denied / A host of sins and maladies which stain his human soul. / But he'll take note of others' blots, for is that not his goal?"

Driven by Eternity
John Bevere
Oasis Audio
289 Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613758496 $22.99 audiobook

Synopsis: What if you learned you were part of an experiment where the next 24 hours would determine the quality of the rest of your life? Everything from the job you hold to the neighborhood and house you live in will be tied to how you navigate a single day. How would you approach those 24 hours? Would you be intentional, or would you leave things to chance and hope for the best?

This idea might seem far-fetched, but it isn't. In fact, it closely resembles how your choices today will impact your destiny forever. In Driven by Eternity, best-selling author John Bevere uses an eye-opening allegory and extensive Scripture to paint a vivid picture of the way our earthly lives shape our eternal existence.

Life beyond the final breath is much more than a destination. Don't wait until it's too late. Discover now how you can make your life count both today and forever.

Critique: Driven by Eternity (8 CDs, unabridged) is a Christian self-help audiobook, drawing directly upon the wisdom of Scripture to encourage listeners to make the most of every minute. Read aloud by author and minister John Bevere, Driven by Eternity induces the listener to reconsider how they spend their time, and to prepare themselves for the life-changing opportunities that can appear when least expected. Inspirational, motivational, and highly recommended, Driven by Eternity is a choice pick for both church and private audiobook collections. It should be noted that an accompanying 40-day devotional to Driven by Eternity by Broadstreet Publishing is available in print (9781424553532 $14.99) or Kindle ($7.99) format.

The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time
Steven Sherrill
John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
9780895876737 $26.95 hc / $9.95 Kindle

Synopsis: Sixteen years have passed since Steven Sherrill first introduced us to "M," the selfsame Minotaur from Greek mythology, transplanted to the modern American South, in the critically acclaimed The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break. M has moved north now, from a life of kitchens and trailer parks, to that of Civil War re-enactor at a run-down living history park in the dying blue-collar rustbelt of central Pennsylvania. Though he dies now, in uniform, on a regular basis, M's world, his daily struggles, remain unchanged. Isolation. Loneliness. Other-ness. Shepherded, cared for, by the Guptas, the immigrant family who runs the motel where he lives, outsiders in their own right, and tolerated by his neighbors, by most of his coworkers at Old Scald Village, but tormented by a few, M wants only to find love and understanding. The serendipitous arrival of Holly and her damaged brother, halted on their own journey of loss, stirs hope in the Minotaur's life. As their paths overlap we find ourselves rooting for the old bull as he stumbles toward a real live human relationship.

Critique: Treading the fine line between fantasy novel and modern-day human struggle, The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time is a thoughtful, timeless saga about the eternal search for purpose, cameraderie, and love. The nigh-immortal titular minotaur, known as "M", is a complex character worthy of the reader's empathy. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time is additionally available in a Kindle edition ($9.95). Also highly recommended is the previous novel featuring the Minotaur, "The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break" (9780895871978, $19.95 hc / $7.99 Kindle).

Journey of a Cotton Blossom
J.C. Villegas
Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail Drive, Suite 205, Dallas, TX 75248-2871
9781612548838 $24.99 hc / $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Born amid the bigotry of the Deep South, mixed-race Joseph is a slave in all but name. Separated from his mother at birth, he yearns to run away from his loveless home and find her. It's a journey that will take him from plantation to plantation and hardship to hardship, yielding joy, sorrow, and love along the way. Years later, Joseph's son, Isaiah, faces his own journey: coming to terms with his homosexuality. But society is still slow to accept change, and Isaiah fears rejection from even those closest to his heart.

From 1940s Mississippi to the civil rights era of the '60s and the push for LGBT equality, Journey of a Cotton Blossom follows three generations of a family fighting for liberation. J. C. Villegas paints an eye-opening story that will inspire readers to open their hearts to love. Though her characters face different types of discrimination, they all draw strength from love and from their faith in God. Can Joseph find the mother he has never met? Can Isaiah survive injustice and adversity? And can they each learn to love themselves in the face of a world that challenges their right to exist?

Critique: Tackling issues of prejudice due to race, status, and sexual orientation, Journey of a Cotton Blossom is an unforgettable historical novel about the power of faith to sustain one's soul in spite of hardship and discrimination. Complex, three-dimensional characters bring this generational saga to life. Journey of a Cotton Blossom is highly recommended for both personal and public library fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Journey of a Cotton Blossom is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Still Life with Tornado
A.S. King
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9781101994887 $17.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Sarah can't draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has "done the art." She thinks she's having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she's finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can't quite recall. After decades of staying together "for the kids" and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah's parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original - and yet it still hurts.

Critique: Still Life with Tornado is a soul-searing novel about the lasting harm of living in the shadow of domestic abuse. A.S. King's groundbreaking, existential style captures daily pressure so intense that it splits the main character's personality into multiple alter egos of different ages. Still Life with Tornado is a riveting read for young adults and adults alike, and highly recommended for school and public library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Still Life with Tornado is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Amour Anarchy: A Memoir
Maura Stone
Written in Stone
9781517788674 $19.95

Synopsis: From the highly prolific, award-winning author comes her version of a coming-of-age tell-all novel: Amour Anarchy, a Memoir. Paris and Europe in the 1970's was a simpler time - when today's political and societal turbulence was then an undercurrent. During her junior year abroad, far from her family and feral household pets, Maura's experiences and adventures shape her outlook in life, including a romance with a man who helped foment a revolution that changed the world.

Critique: Armchair travelers and romance connoisseurs alike have a special treat in store. Amour Anarchy is the captivating, true-life story of a young woman finding love and wonder in the City of Lights, and a joy to browse from cover to cover. Highly recommended!

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

The Spirit in St. Louis
Mark Everett Stone
Camel Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603812566 $15.95 pbk

Synopsis: The whole world now knows of the existence of the World Under, thanks to fallout from the terrible events in Omaha a year back. As the World Under's most effective foe, Kal Hakala performed actions that were both heroic and horrific. Now, sidelined as an Agent, he serves the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation as its public face, charming talk show hosts and training new recruits known as "Green Peas."

However, the World Under never rests, and events force Kal back into action. A malevolent spirit occupies St. Louis's Quint Building, and the team sent in to combat it disappears after their leader is driven to suicide. The BSI has no choice but to send in Kalevi Hakala and his team to solve the problem. As each of the individual members of Kal's team is isolated and dumped into his or her private hell, Kal begins to wonder if he hasn't finally met his match: the most powerful force the World Under has to offer.

Critique: Book 6 in the "From the Files of the BSI" paranormal series, The Spirit in St. Louis is a suspenseful dark fantasy saga. A balance between psychologicial intrigue, menacing chills and fierce resistance, The Spirit in St. Louis is a page-turner from cover to cover. Highly recommended!

The Decolonial Abyss
An Yountae
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue
University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823273072, $90.00, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: "The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins" by An Yountae (Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania) probes the ethico-political possibility harbored in Western philosophical and theological thought for addressing the collective experience of suffering, socio-political trauma, and colonial violence. In order to do so, it builds a constructive and coherent thematization of the somewhat obscurely defined and underexplored mystical figure of the abyss as it occurs in Neoplatonic mysticism, German Idealism, and Afro-Caribbean philosophy.

The central questions Professor Yountae raises are -- How do we mediate the mystical abyss of theology/philosophy and the abyss of socio-political trauma engulfing the colonial subject? What would theopoetics look like in the context where poetics is the means of resistance and survival?

"The Decolonial Abyss" seeks to answer these questions by examining the abyss as the dialectical process in which the self's dispossession before the encounter with its own finitude is followed by the rediscovery or reconstruction of the self.

Critique: Thoughtful and though-provoking, "The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins" is an erudite and original work that is very highly recommended, especially for college and university library Contemporary Philosophy, Political Theory, and Theological Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Decolonial Abyss" is also available in a paperback edition (9780823273089, $25.00).

Tempting Skies
Michael J. Roueche
Vesta House Publishing
9780997698008, $17.99, PB, 382pp,

Synopsis: The third volume in Michael J. Roeche's 'Beyond the Wood' series, "Tempting Skies" is set some four decades after the conclusion of the American Civil War, and the former Kentucky slave, Victoria Richman, has passed away.

Among her belongings, her bereft family discovers a narrative she's written recounting the summer of 1864 in Virginia and the Nation's Capital. Mrs. Richman's manuscript describes a defining year, full of fury, sorrow, dread, hate, hope and love in the lives that intersect hers:

Betsy Richman Henderson tries to escape once again her demoralizing dance with a still-scheming Lucius Walthrope, even as war's devastation trudges southward toward her Shenandoah Valley homestead.

William Richman, at last a legally free man, painfully struggles to scrape away slavery's emotional scars and remnant self-doubt. Amidst inner disarray and outer humiliation, he battles for his place in a new social order of liberty framed in 19th Century racism.

Victoria herself struggles to find meaning in her new life. Thoughtful and intelligent, she resists a mundane life far from the war and its shifting purpose as she lives and chronicles the dramatic climax of the "Beyond the Wood Series".

Critique: An impressively gifted storyteller, this concluding volume of a truly outstanding Civil War era trilogy by Michael J. Roueche is as extraordinary and consistently entertaining a read as his first two novels. While very highly recommended for community library Historical American Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tempting Skies" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99), as are the first two volumes: "Beyond The Wood" (9780983756712, $17.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle) and "A River Divides" (9780983756767, $17.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle).

Dates and Dreams: Short Fictions, Prose Poems, Cartoons
E. M. Schorb
Hill House
9780692641262, $24.95, 238pp,

Synopsis: "Dates and Dreams: Short Fictions, Prose Poems, Cartoons" by prize-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer E. M. Schorb is a simply impressive collection of over a hundred prose poems, all of which were originally published in literary magazines and quarterlies from England, Austria, Canada, Germany, China, Australia, India, and America including Oxford Poetry, Poetry Salzburg Review, The North American Review, Envoi, The Outrider and the University of Windsor Review, among many others. "Dates and Dreams" also includes a generous selection of Schorb's unique drawings and an informative introduction by X.J. Kennedy.

Critique: E. M. Schorb is a master wordsmith who is able to consistently engage his reader's full attention. Brilliant for browsing, and showcasing true originality and a prepossessing wit, "Dates and Dreams: Short Fictions, Prose Poems, Cartoons" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction & Poetry collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dates and Dreams" is also available in a paperback edition (9780692677407, $18.95).

Science And Christianity
J. B. Stump
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781118625279, $94.95, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: "Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues" by academician J.B. Stump (who is currently the Senior Editor at BioLogos, where he oversees the development of new content and curates existing content for the BioLogos website and print materials) is an accessible, engaging introduction to topics at the intersection of science and Christian theology and includes: a philosophically orientated treatment that introduces the relationship of science to Christianity and explores to what extent the findings of science affect traditional Christian theology; addresses important theological topics in light of contemporary science, including divine action, the problem of natural evil, and eschatology; features historically oriented chapters and chapters covering methodological principles for both science and theology provide the reader with a strong foundational understanding of the issues; includes feature boxes highlighting quotations, biographies of major scientists and theologians, key terms, and other helpful information; and presents issues as fairly and objectively as possible, with strengths and weaknesses of particular interpretations fully discussed.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues" is enhanced with the inclusion of a three page 'Timeline of Historical Figures Discussed', a seven page Glossary, and a six page Index. Of exceptional interest and accessibly written for both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, "Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues" is unreservedly recommended for community, seminary, college, and university library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Science and Christianity" is also available in a paperback edition (9781118625248, $29.95) and in a Kindle format ($19.19).

Windfall Nights
William Claypool
Meadow Lane Press
4104 Meadow Lane, Newtown Square, PA 19073
9780986063763, $14.95, PB, 186pp,

Synopsis: Following a devastating car accident, Julian returns to college a semester behind. Now a fifth year senior, he struggles to make ends meet. To help finance his final semester, he applies for a job as a night bellman at a second-rate hotel. There he meets a cast of interesting characters and Thomas, the man who would change Julian's life forever.

Thomas is the hotel handyman and Julian soon learns that a dark secret haunts his new friend. Thomas, once a college football star, dropped out of sight at the height of his sports career. There are rumors of academic fraud and trouble with women but Thomas conceals his past. Bonding over shared vulnerabilities, the two young men become close friends. While their friendship grows, Julian begins to understand Thomas' remarkable gifts as well as the terrible demons he carries.

The peace of his world is broken as Julian approaches his college graduation. Although Julian and Thomas move apart, they eventually meet again on the streets of Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, Julian pursues his career as a journalist and Thomas follows his destiny in a way that Julian will need a lifetime to understand.

Critique: "Windfall Nights" by William Claypool is a deftly crafted and consistently compelling story of coming of age and redemption in a troubled and chaotic world. A riveting read from beginning to end, "Windfall Nights" is one of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Windfall Nights" is also available in a paperback edition (9780986063763, $14.95) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).

The HST Model for Change
Robert Brown
BP Books
9780983676898, $24.50, PB, 171pp,

Synopsis: Drawing upon his more than forty years of experience and expertise, Robert Brown has written "The HST Model for Change" for the purpose of providing new thinking and greater success for business owners, leaders and Organizational Development experts. HST stands for Harnessing the Speed of Thought. The model begins the change process where it actually starts, in the human brain, then expands outwards through teams and leaders to move the entire organization forward. By beginning with the basics, how the human brain works, this new model creates a direct path from idea to implementing and sustaining. It works by supporting people needs first, which then support business needs. Readers will learn how to set up the change process even before change is contemplated and ensure buy-in by all strata of the organization.

Critique: "The HST Model for Change" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented so as to be of substantial value to academia while being thoroughly accessible for the non-specialist general reading with an interest in the subject. "The HST Model for Change" is highly recommended personal, professional, community, and academic library Psychology & Business Management reference collections.

Tangled Webs
Irene Hannon
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800724542 $14.99 pbk / $8.18 Kindle

Synopsis: After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not.

Bestselling author Irene Hannon draws readers into a web of psychological suspense where danger lurks in dark corners . . . and keeps them captive until the very last page.

Critique: Although Tangled Webs is the third novel in the "Men of Valor" series, it is a self-contained story that stands well on its own. Prolific, award-winning author Irene Hannon has crafted a new work of knife-edge psychological suspense. Tangled Webs is a saga of ruthless intrigue, and blossoming love, featuring strong, believable characters, and is highly recommended. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that Tangled Webs is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.18).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Rabies Mom
Patrick Carroll & Jack McGowan
Arbor Books
244 Madison Avenue, #254, New York, NY 10016
9780980110609, Paperback, 208 pages, Kindle $7.99,

Genre memoir

Rabies Mom is not a light hearted fictional tale, and, realizing that the events set down are factual; caused the book to be all the more thorny to read. The narrative opens in 1983 at Chicago's South side Irish Parade. Writer Pat Carroll was newly divorced, twenty seven and childless. Jeannine McGraw was twenty, lied about her age and said she was twenty one, beautiful, full of life and she just took Carroll's breath away.

Soon the pair were married, producing a family and seemed to be a typical, cheerful entity.

By 2004 the marriage had ruptured. Jeannine commenced on a descending spiral centering around her craving for 'happiness'. She felt the one to cause her happiness would be a younger man, the handy man who came to modernize a bathroom, and rather began pursuing the lady of the house. Jeannine alternated between ranting at Carroll, disregarding her children and swooning in front of both husband and children with the handyman. He was her adored and they had plans for the future, plans which ended when he committed suicide or possibly was bumped off by a man he had assisted.

Predictably, in a short time, Jeannine had turned her romantic behavior to the friend, the divorce was filed, the three older Carroll children rejected living with their mother, and remained with their father. The three younger girls went to live with their mother. Carroll was powerless as he watched the suspension of life circumstance his children faced, and found himself frequently thwarted by Jeannine and the state of Indiana court system.

When he agreed to joint custody of his children as he separated from his wife in 2004; Carroll never expected that his 10-year-old daughter Shannon might be at death's door a short two years later. As the terror of the situation unfolded; it became apparent that Shannon had contracted rabies through her being bitten by a bat. In October 2006 Shannon Carroll aged 10, became the first person to die of rabies in Indiana since 1959 and was the only US citizen to die from rabies that year.

Jeannine's family, neighbors, all and sundry who knew the family; tried to reason with Jeannine who only became angry, spiteful and more entrenched in her bizarre behaviors; including getting proper medical help for Shannon. It was only when one of the neighbor's telephoned Carroll to tell him about the bat that the doctor's were too late put on the track regarding what was really going on with the child.

Concerned regarding the safety and welfare of his youngest children, in addition to having the support of Jeannine's family, one of whom is co-author of this book, Carroll initiated the effort for gaining guardianship of the girls. The struggle was an agonizingly slow process, compounded with the grueling process entailed in battling a welfare and court system that tends to view mothers with greater sympathy and belief that younger children always do better with the mother.

Rabies Mom is a difficult read at best. Writer Carroll does not present himself as faultless as opposed to the failings of Jeannine, rather, he refers openly regarding his own imperfections; in so doing he does present Jeannine as less than perfect. Alternatively, the fact that Jeannine's family sided with Carroll, as did neighbors and others, is telling.

The sluggishness of the legal system, the belief that mothers are always more likely to be the best parent for younger kids, the need of professionalism depicted regarding his first attorney, as well as the utter, wrenching vulnerability Carroll felt ; all rang through the words he set down in his book.

Carroll states any money he earns from sales of this book will go to guarantee each of his children receive counseling as they try to pick up the pieces their lives. I hope his sales are huge.

In January 2008 Carroll at last was given custody of his two youngest children. Today Carroll and his adult children remain good friends, he and his two youngest children live peacefully in Illinois.

Writer Jack McGowan is Jeannine's oldest brother and has been a staunch supporter of Carroll through out the awfulness of the marriage and consequent aftermath of Pat Carroll and Jeannine McGraw.

A must read for those who may be facing any of the situation as faced Pat Carroll; i.e. a marriage that simply cannot succeed, children who are being ignored, a legal system that seems at times to be teetering on the brink of senselessness.

A transfixing, appalling read, Rabies Mom is recommended for those who are in counseling, counselors, and those whose marriage/divorce is devolving into custody battles and neglect of children.

Not an easy read, very eye opening, happy to recommend especially for the target audience.

Battle Story: Tet Offensive 1968
Andrew Rawson
The History Press
c/o Arcadia Publishing
420 Wando Park Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
9780752487847, $9.99 Kindle,

Rawson's Tet Offensive 1968 BATTLE STORY offers a good overview of one of the most talked about actions of the Vietnamese era.

As did many here in the states, I who would marry 2 Nam vets, and had many associates and friends who were/are vets; had some awareness of the situation, however reading Rawson's Tet Offensive 1968 BATTLE STORY helps put the situation into perspective.

Prior to the introduction of the offensive itself; the author offers a Table of Contents with introduction and Timeline. The historical background of the area and the people, South Vietnam's geography and weather are discussed. The period from French Colonial Rule to the communist Takeover are outlined. Weaponry available to the American and ARVN soldiers fighting with the US troops is detailed.

The Campaigns 1965 - 1967 comprise a large portion of the book. Maps, photos and sidebars help illustrate the skirmishes and larger confrontations.

Taken straight from the Table of Contents the offensive becomes clearly defined;

The Armies
The Commanders
The Soldiers
The Kit
The Days Before Battle
Planning Tet Offensive
Deploying for Battle
Diggin in, Ready for Battle
Nva and Viet Cong Objectives
Allied Intelligence Mistakes
Opening Rounds at Khe Sanh
Premature Attacks
The Battlefield What Actually Happened?
The Battle for Quang Tri
The Battle for Da Nang
The Battle for Hue Begins
The Battles for Long Binh and Bien Hoa
The Battle for Saigon
Prolonged Battles
The Battle for Hue Citadel
The Siege of Khe Sanh Comes to an End
After the Battle
The Military Outcome
The Mini Tet Offensive May 1968
The War Continues
The Legacy
Reaction to the Tet Offensive
Withdrawal of Combat Troops
The NVAs Final Offensive
The Human Cost
Order of Battle
Further Reading

The 1968 Tet Offensive, anticipated to generate an extensive uprising in South Vietnam when it was set in action by the militarily sharp North Vietnamese General, Vo Nguyen Giap, proved to be a major critical battle achievement for Vietnam.

The blood-spattered struggle for Khe Sahn and the nearby special forces camp Lang Vei, where my husband of 3 decades and his unit were overrun, was followed by actions in and around Quang Tri, Da Nang, Hue and other posts in the North as the offensive continued the length of the Ho Chi Minh trail ended in catastrophic rout for the North Vietnamese troops. As do most vets I have known, Husband rarely mentions anything of Vietnam other than jungle, weather, and the like.

Rawson's exceptional appraisal of the encounters, particulars, strategy and military forces involved; aid the reader in understanding how the surprise offensive targeting so many towns, villages, and major military bases during which time even the US embassy in Saigon itself came under siege by Viet cong soldiers, actually proved to be a military failure as the North Vietnamese army and its guerilla allies in the South suffered demoralizing losses.

By the close of January 1968, after the US had been involved in fighting the Vietnam War for a decade, and after three years of increasing conflict, the American people had been thinking the US military forces were winning in South Vietnam. Then the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong waged a surprise attack, hitting military and political targets across the country.

While the NVA and Viet Cong did suffer a military defeat, during the seven bloody months they managed to deliver a massive blow to US support for the war. Politically the action proved to be a crucial turning point for American involvement in SE Asia and for public opinion of the war.

Lasting over seven bloody months; hitting military and political targets, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong embarked on hundreds of attacks across South Vietnam.

Despite the attacks in and around Saigon in the south being put down quickly, the battle for the city of Hue in the north was a prolonged, 77-day siege. As the offensive wound down and the US military gained control, the generals in Saigon and the politicians in Washington DC were forced to reconsider their stratagem for South Vietnam.

Involving over 1.5 million participants, of whom more than 50,000 soldiers were killed, and thousands more wounded along with civilian casualties; the Tet Offensive was a harsh political triumph for the communist forces.

This book provides a lucid, succinct description of those remarkable days in 1968. Augmented a timeline of events and orders of battle, and illustrated with over fifty photographs the reader becomes more aware of the military action known as Rawson's Tet Offensive 1968 BATTLE STORY .

Interesting, educational read, Recommended 5 stars

Beyond Innocence
Erin Fox
Wings ePress, Inc
9781590889923, $TBA, Paperback: 413 pages

Beyond Innocence it is late May in Banff National Park, Alberta Canada when two men are overwhelmed, thrown into the back of a truck, shot, relentlessly beaten and finally abandoned in different locations when they are thrown over a cliff and left for dead.

Faye Barton and her lover Calvin have decided to rid themselves of Cal's business partner, a man named Tate as well as Philadelphia police officer Sam Riven.

Before long a badly beaten body is found by a family out for a hike. The beating victim is soon located by the unsuspecting hikers, and, while badly injured, the victim is barely alive. When he awakens in a trauma unit many days later he is befriended by Marnie Grant a physiotherapist.

Suffering from amnesia, his memory is gone, and recovery slow; for lack of better name Marnie has been calling her patient Lucky. And, when he is released from the hospital; he wears a wedding ring, however suffering from amnesia, recovering from the beating and without memory or money, and, with much to the dismay of Marnie's strait laced mother and brother; Marnie takes him home where she installs him in her spare bedroom to complete his recovery from the beating and perhaps regain his memory. He has nowhere else to go. Marnie and Lucky decide upon the name Luke; and Luke he becomes.

In Philadelphia Faye and Calvin carry on a search for the huge trove of money the pair is certain Tate has hidden away; while Elsie Riven and Police officer Pete Gruber wonder about what has become of both Sam and Tate.

The pair seemed pretty dubious friends. Tate, a kid from 'the wrong side of town' raised by an abusive father, owns clubs populated with girls having shaky pasts while Sam, a fellow raised in a well to do, two parent home, is a law officer.

What Tate has been doing with the money his lucrative clubs and activities of his 'girls' bring in, astonish everyone and are sure to surprise the reader as well.

A second, badly decomposed body of another man is found wedged in the rock face of the cliff where both he and Luke had been left for dead.

Over time Marnie and Luke develop a warm relationship and begin to realize that Luke may never regain his memory when the police zero in on Faye and Calvin. Calvin bolts then returns without being seen. Faye and Luke meet leading to recovery of his memory, and the shock he feels to learn that he may not be the kind, gentle soul he has been living since his fall from the cliff.

At last Marnie, Luke, Tate's son Tanner and Sam's son Scott begin to see a little light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.

Clever author Fox presents a gritty, imposing, tension filled read in her work Beyond Innocence. With the setting up of the intrigue found on the pages of Beyond Innocence Readers are presented a transitory view into a milieu most of us can only presume.

Writer Fox has set down a powerfully authentic collection of specifics set against an atmosphere packed with riveting characters and convincing, credible discourse, as well as a sumptuous tang for time and setting. The central plot is amplified with sub plot, changeovers are handled with skill.

Beyond Innocence is an imposing read certain to hook the reader from the opening lines and grip them tight right down to the last paragraph as the reader is carried along on a rollicking ride filled with duplicity, surprise, and violence.

Conflict presented by this knowledgeable writer moves the tale along sustaining reader interest from beginning to end as the reader attempts to sort out all the sham, connivance and deception.

Inspiration for actions of the diverse characters is both rational and consistent, the reader will find himself championing Marnie, disliking Calvin and Faye with equivalent rancor, and hoping the best for Tate and Sam. Culmination of the narrative is satisfactory; the finish presented by writer Fox is a, expected conclusion subsequent to the state of affairs presented.

Main characters come alive as we read. Tate Barton is a real low life, or is he? Marnie the compliant, guilt led Pastor's kid kicks loose from the remorseful angst her widowed mother continues to heap upon her in a laudable, gratifying manner. Faye and Calvin deserve one another.

Caution; Watch for red herrings.

The reader may be surprised to discover all the essentials presented during the final pages. Ooverflowing with twists and turns, plots and machination Beyond Innocence is a storyline certain to intrigue the most perceptive reader.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

While I had read an eBook version of the book several years ago, I recently received a paper copy, have read again, and enjoyed the tale again. I like a mystery that has some twists and turns and keeps the reader on their toes trying to figure out who the 'bad guys' really are.

Note: Not for everyone, some coarse language, reference to sex and violence may cause some readers worry. However, I found language, violence and reference to sex all had realistic place in the work.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Wide as the Wind
Edward Stanton
Open Books Press
4735 S. SR 446, Bloomington, Indiana 47401
9781941799383, $16.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 220 pages,

Years of tribal wars between the Tuus and the Raas have savaged the tiny Polynesian island of Vaitea. Those tribespeople who survive the massacres are slowly starving to death. The high priestess Marama believes 15-year old Miru is the chosen one and tasks him with saving the island and its people from total destruction. Though Miru is in love with Kenetea, she is Raa and he is Tuu. So there is little hope for a future together while their fathers remain at war. Miru obeys Marama's command and becomes the captain of a seaworthy twin-hulled sailboat built by his grandfather's shipbuilders. His 10-year old sister Renga Roiti and Kenetea's 10-year old brother Mohani make up his entire crew. The three kids set sail for the lush island of Ragi where they must harvest seeds and tree shoots to bring back to Vaitea to restore what has been lost. During their long treacherous journey, Miru finds within himself not only strength and determination but the true answer to saving Vaitea -- peace. Miru understands that in order to save the environment he must first save his people from themselves. Though his quest challenges him to his very core he is drawn toward his destiny by his ancestors and the gods and goddesses who rule the land and sea. Stanton paints the ravages of Vaitea's war and the splendor of Ragi's paradise in vivid detail and poetic prose. Stanton has sculpted a modern parable that shows how mankind's hatred and violence sow the seeds of environmental devastation. Three pages of discussion questions at the end make this novel an excellent resource for a study in literature and/or climate change. "Wide as the Wind" is an inspiring adventure about the bravery and courage of three young earth warriors who save the future.

The Journey
Francesca Sanna
Flying Eye Books
9781909263994, $17.95, HC, 48 pages,

A brother and sister lived happily with their mother and father in a beautiful city by the sea until the blackness of war spread chaos and destruction and eventually took their father. Their mother heard about a distant country with forests and mountains and no war. They pack up their belongings in suitcases and set out in the family car. But as the pictures reveal, at each stage of their journey they gradually abandon all possessions as conditions worsen. On foot, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they get past the border wall only to face a harrowing ferry boat ride across the stormy sea. Throughout their long and treacherous journey they're accompanied by flocks of migrating birds without borders who share their hopes and dreams for a better life. The words "migrants" and "refugees" conjure images of masses of humanity fleeing war and genocide. In simple words and striking pictures, Sanna succeeds in synthesizing their sacrifices and struggles into one family's quest. Sanna combines deep hues and rich saturation with exaggerated images in a screen-print style to depict the terrors and tragedies of their plight. Based on migrants' own heartbreaking tales, "The Journey" is an intimate parable with the capacity to open hearts and minds to the ongoing worldwide refugee crisis in a way the news media cannot.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Polk's Bookshelf

Sealed Up: The Course of Fate
Steve Dunn Hansen
Privately Published
9780997455717, $14.95, paperback, 402 pages
B01I245LU4, $3.99, Kindle,

"Hermano" Luke Clinton is a television evangelist, leader of The Power In the Lamb ministry, with a large following now that donations had increased radically over the recent past giving him an opportunity...more of a mandate create a mission to the Mayan descendents living near Palenque, Mexico. "Mandate" because the ministry's increase donations is a business gambit by Abran de la Cruz, head of a local drug cartel. The cash donations ensured a continual stream of donated clothes and shoes bound for the Palenque mission in which large bundles of cash could be smuggled from the United States to Palenque without excessive scrutiny. This smuggled money is essential to Abran de la Cruz's dream of retiring and disappearing into anonymity in Europe.

Kish, a Mayan shaman, has other plans. His plans include re-interesting UCLA Professor Hill in leading another archaeological expedition to Palenque and bring with him, Itzel Soto, his graduate a human sacrifice.

However, no plan survives its execution, especially when many different parties have many different agendas, most of them driven by greed. Sealed Up is a novel with as many twists and turns as the Usumacinta River on the banks of which some of those twists and turns play out. The book is fast paced and entertaining and although somewhat predictable, it does contain many surprises. A great read for those who like good action adventure stories with a mysterious, even supernatural, twist. 4-stars

Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia
Elle Boca
Poyeen Publishing
2901 Clint Moore Road #265, Boca Raton, FL 33496
9781932534115, $12.99, paperback, 262 pages
9781932534115 (Smashwords)
B01A01R5SI, $5.99, Kindle,

Weeia are a specialized group who live among humans and who possess certain special powers. Except for these special powers, Weeia are undistinguishable from humans. Weeia Marshals are trained to prevent unscrupulous Weeia from using their powers against humans.

When Danni Metreaux, a recent third level graduate of the Weeia Marshal academy, is unexpectedly sent to Paris for her first assignment, she is excited and a bit over-whelmed. She is also the envy of the rest of the academy graduates who have received much more mundane postings. However, Paris disappoints her as her boss, Francois appears completely burned out an uninterested, his friend Patrick is an unknown factor and the Office Manager, Madame Marmotte comes across as an ineffective busy-body manipulator.

Soon, Danni is up to her heck in intrigue involving a gypsy clan and desperately trying to get her boss to back her. Will she be successful and survive the gypsy threat? I suppose you'll have to read it to find out!

Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia should appeal to any reader that loves mysteries with a supernatural twist. 4-stars

Forbidden Birth: A Chris Ravello Medical Thriller
William Rubin
Privately Published
9780997594904, $13.85, paperback, 432 pages
9780997594911 (Smashwords)
B01J9FJILI, $4.99, Kindle,

Dr. Chris Ravello is an oddity. A graduate of medical school and a promising surgeon, Chris scrapped it all to head the New York City Division of Medical Crimes. Leaping ahead of veteran police officers did not endear him to the rank and file NYPD Officers regardless of his training and expertise. Many hoped he would fail; and as the DMC was both a law enforcement experiment and a political risk by New York Governor Gregory Spatick, the politicians would cut him slack only as long as they did not receive public pressure.

But when the bodies of young pregnant women began to appear, mutilated; their uterus removed and both the uterus and their unborn fetus missing, public pressure came down hard and heavy on the politicians. Masters at shifting pressure they, in turn, lay the pressure on Ravello, eventually removing his control of the investigation by bringing in the FBI.

But Ravello can't give up; and the pressure on him is multiplied because the killer has raised the stakes and made them very personal.

I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into this book and it was several chapters before it really began to interest me. However, once it caught my interest, I found it very hard to put down.

Chris Ravello requires a stretch of imagination; is motives are good, but what up and coming surgeon throws it all away to be a cop? Granted he had a motive, but the skill sets and mentality required for the two jobs seem incompatible. Ravello's partner, however, is a believable cop. The fact that they have known each other for years and now find themselves partners is another stretch.

Forbidden Birth is full of twists and reasonably plausible alternative suspects. The reader will not be certain who the bad guy really is until near the end. It's an entertaining story that will keep you guessing. Any mystery lover will love it...especially if you can deal with the descriptions of the corpses...serious creep factor. 4-stars

The First Soul: The Adventures of J.J. Stone
W.J. Cherf
Foxbat Publishing
9780983481485, $14.99, paperback, 438 pages
9780983481492 (Smashwords)
B01J8D1ZYY, $4.99, Kindle,

Jonathan Joseph (J.J.) Stone was born carrying the first soul ever created. As one may imagine, the body to carry the first human soul has both extraordinary abilities and extraordinary responsibilities; they would also be of immense interest to The International Integrated Interface Society (TIIIS), an organization dedicated to positive paranormal balance, and to the Consilium magorum et sagarum (CMES), the Council of Magician and Witches.

And thus begins the tug-of-war between good and evil seesawing J. J. Stone in between.

I found The First Soul to be a quick and enjoyable read; a classic tale of good-v-evil carried out in the modern age in light of modern conflicts and political situations. The story moved quickly and even though there were assertions from the beginning that carrying the first soul protected the body from physical harm, there was still a bit of nail-biting from time to time.

Anyone who loves fantasy in general, and conflicts between good and evil specifically, should love First Soul. 4-Stars

Clabe Polk, Reviewer

Sloan's Bookshelf

Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou
Steven Burgauer
Battleground Press
9780692808122, $14.95, PB,
ASIN: B01MYLUNUK, $1.99, 348 pages

It is 2 a.m. on July 30, 1942, and Heinrich von Brockdorff lies dead in a French Quarter whore's bed.

It's a quiet start to a saga that spreads from Mahogany Hall in New Orleans to the war-torn islands of the South Pacific and beyond. For von Brockdorff is no ordinary "john." He is -- or was -- a strategically placed German spy on American soil.

This is a sweeping story of heroism and heartache, bravery and betrayal, set against the backdrop of the cataclysmic event forever remembered as World War Two.

On July 31, 1942, one day after von Brockdorff dies, his grandson stands sweltering in a sandy foxhole on the tropical island of Fiji. U.S. Marine PFC Russell Brock never knew his grandfather -- and he certainly doesn't know he's dead. He has other things on his mind -- such as how to survive the upcoming amphibious assault on heavily fortified Japanese positions.

He will be jumping off the steel-reinforced front ramp of a specially made Higgins boat -- also known as an LCVP - Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel. Coincidentally, the shallow-draft landing craft was made in New Orleans, the scene of his grandfather's untimely demise.

In a series of cunningly wrought vignettes, author Steven Burgauer pulls together far-flung people, places and events to tell -- through fascinating historical side notes and fiction-based-on-fact -- the story surrounding the humble LCVP's genesis and its crucial role in winning the war.

Interwoven with this central thread are the lives and deeds of many colorful characters: crime boss Nico Carolla; luckless prostitute Kentucky Rose; Andrew Jackson Higgins, namesake of the landing craft; PFC Stanley Whitehorse, one of several Navajo Indians vital to developing a war-winning, unbreakable code; Sebastian Grimm, a young captain in the Waffen-SS, and many others.

Of particular note is the author's gift for dialect in dialogue, often using it to paint compelling word pictures of people and places in the Deep South:

"He had crooked toes. Dey peeped out of shufflin' shoes. His trousers was all torn an' tattered. He wore an old frockcoat. It be all threadbare and smellin' like burnt cinders."

Central to the loosely connected stories is the ingenious development of the LCVP, from a small plywood craft capable of carrying only a few dozen men to one that was built entirely of steel, and which could carry many more men or entire pieces of mechanized equipment, including tanks.

The author painstakingly details how Higgins and his dedicated team designed and mass-produced the boats, guarded by both U.S. Marines and a deadly cadre of New Orleans mafiosi.

It's a unique arrangement with the mobsters that eventually reaches as far as Sicily and Tunis, where Nico Carolla's family members, aided by local community residents and fishermen, help the Allies harry and defeat fascist forces on their native land.

Readers are treated to history lessons at every turn in this outstanding read that blends fictional characters with real-life war heroes. Even famed spy novelist Ian Fleming takes a turn in the story, dispensing unique diversionary tactics to be used against the enemy in novel ways.

But what of von Brockdorff and PFC Brock? And, more importantly, what becomes of the tattered Nazi codebook found sewn into von Brockdorff's shirt lining? What secret does it carry that is central to the future of the war -- and perhaps the entire world?

These characters come to life for the reader as they pass through the pages and into the imagination. Nico gets a life-changing surprise and barely survives a rival mob hit. U.S. Marines firefight their way across several islands, exchanging precious blood for mere feet of Japanese-held soil. And the Navajo code-talkers call down a rain of artillery shells on the so-called "Sons of Nippon," each Native American zealously guarded by heavily armed Marine sergeants.

There is so much more in this book that cannot be detailed here. Suffice to say that fans of both meticulously researched history and little-known wartime events will enjoy it tremendously.

Five stars to Steven Burgauer and his tale of historical World War Two fiction. May we never again need to live through such a terrible conflict.

The First Bearmas
ASIN: B0190WDKB4, 270 pages, $7.99, Kindle,

This is the touching story of how SaraJane (SJ) Wilcox celebrates her first Bearmas.

What's a Bearmas? Well...more on that in a moment.

This is a truly unique book beyond comparisons. Written with children who are battling life-threatening conditions (and their parents) in mind, it recounts the hardships and trials a seven-year-old girl must go through after she is diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.

SJ bravely endures endless tests and treatments, diverted thankfully by fantastic stories of triumph over tragedy by a small, yet daring, bear named Ralph. Like SJ, he must also complete a series of challenges to be worthy of his chosen boy and girl -- in this case, SJ.

(On the day a bear succeeds in facing all his Ordeals, he goes finally to his chosen child. And that day is Bearmas.)

SJ's mother begins the first allegorical tale soon after SJ is diagnosed with the cancerous tumor. It's about the Ordeal of the dreaded Bridge of Fire, and Ralph must cross it and return safely to prove his heroism in the face of daunting odds. The next day, Dr. Hamilton, SJ's pediatric oncologist, picks up the story and brings Ralph through his first trial successfully.

SJ's mother, Genevieve, is also fighting battles of her own -- at work, against mounting hospital bills, and facing the prospect of expensive day care for SJ when she leaves the hospital. There is no father in the picture, and Genevieve is nearing the end of her rope with worry.

Meanwhile, SJ, now wearing an eye patch to compensate for sight lost to the tumor, continues to seek escape by identifying with the intrepid bear, who fights his way through ever-more-elaborate stories spun by her mother, Dr. Hamilton, and even her Granma.

Ralph the bear enlists the aid of a hairy, smelly -- but friendly and helpful -- troll in his second quest to get a magical medallion. In subsequent stories, Ralph must settle a long-standing War of the Fairies, save the wildebeests in deepest, darkest Africa, and retrieve the jewel of Ra, the Sun God.

It's a lot for a small bear to do, but Ralph dutifully plunges into each Ordeal -- plus three others -- so that he may be worthy of his little girl's love and admiration.

Many character traits discussed in the book give immeasurable depth to the narrative and, at the same time, offer invaluable instruction to readers young and old. Ralph, in the course of overcoming his ordeals, learns a great deal about Humility, Modesty and Prudence, to name only a few.

The characters in this unique novel are finely drawn and you are right there at the hospital bedside as SJ goes through her own ordeals, with her mother, grandmother, and Dr. Hamilton all there to support her.

Does Ralph succeed in all his quests, finally taking his place beside SJ? And, more importantly, is a cure found for SJ, so she can escape the hospital and finally return home? Download this marvelous and sensitive story today and find out.

Five stars to The First Bearmas. It elevates the art of allegorical writing to new heights as it brings hope and fresh insights into how to handle adversity.

Look also for the beautifully illustrated companion book, The Illustrated Bearmas Reader, where Ralph really comes to life on carefully crafted, full-color panels.

The Illustrated Bearmas Reader: Ralph's Ordeals
ASIN: B01CQC1OVS, 129 pages, Price $0.99

Ralph is a bear with a single-minded purpose in this unique and heartwarming companion piece to The First Bearmas by author dhtreichler. That purpose is to undergo seven Ordeals to prove himself worthy of coming to live with a hospitalized seven-year-old girl named SaraJane (nicknamed "SJ"), who is battling a brain tumor.

This extraordinary book, allegorical in nature, helps very sick children and their parents learn to cope with the innumerable tests and procedures a small patient must put up with while hospitalized, and brings hope to those who might otherwise be on the brink of despair.

Ralph bravely faces each of his seven Ordeals, and learns -- along with the reader -- that adversity often builds character. Each challenge faced by Ralph brings him closer to "Bearmas" -- the date he will arrive at his chosen little girl's hospital bedside.

The Ordeals are wildly imaginative, ranging from rolling across a flaming bridge in a shingle-covered wheel to convincing a nation of lotus-eaters to give up the practice and donate the calm-inducing pods to those boys and girls in most need of them.

Not to be confused with an ordinary children's book, this is the ultimate in cautionary tales, written with immense inspiration and joie de vivre. It is guaranteed to delight and uplift readers of all ages. Indeed, there are some references in the book that will even startle and amuse you amid the drama, as when Tatiana, Commander of the Fairyland Raiders, responds to a suggestion that her troops utilize "fairy dust alternatives" in order to keep flying about.

"Any fairy who expects to continue doing their job and intends to rely upon alternatives is smoking something."

At other times, the tale turns profound, as when SJ's pediatric oncologist delivers the moral to one particularly harrowing Ordeal:

"I like to think it's that you have the power to change your own fate in your hands. When everyone thinks you're doomed to failure, you still have the power to decide what to do and find a way to succeed."

SJ's mother Genevieve, her Granma, and Dr. Hamilton all take turns recounting Ralph's colorful exploits by SJ's bedside. These vignettes always begin and end before the august Supreme Bear Council -- the beary body charged with assigning Ralph's Ordeals. From there, Ralph goes in search of such disparate items as a massive medallion from the neck of a fearsome Cyclops, and the jewel of the Sun God Ra, now in the keeping of a many-headed Medusa which has already turned many treasure-seeking bears to stone merely by looking at them.

In every instance, Ralph acquires a virtue such as Humility, Modesty, Prudence, and even Transcendence -- all in the course of completing his assigned tasks. He finds much-needed help along the way from smelly, hairy trolls, loquacious Lions, and even a mysterious, black-hooded woman named Lorelei, who helps immeasurably in the adventure of the lissome Lotus Eaters.

This is an epic story of triumph over tragedy as Ralph learns many hard-won lessons on his way into SJ's heart. Chief among them is the value of perseverance and courage in the face of daunting odds.

"Ordeals are shared experiences," SJ's mother intones, quoting from the vignette about the Cyclops. "One can only survive them when you work together, building on each others' strengths."

Five stars to The Illustrated Bearmas Reader. Its richly illustrated pages will bring strength and joy to many children, giving them the ability to withstand medical hardship in the hope of one day celebrating their very own Bearmas.

NOTE: A downloadable, printable version of this book is available for free to children who are enduring physical, emotional or social ordeals; their parents and caregivers; charitable organizations supporting children with challenges; and literacy organizations. Visit

The Essence of Life
Rain Arlender
9786155578533, Length: 223 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01K7PP7ZK, 167 pages, $2.99

The Essence of Life is a superb collection of stories in the rich tradition of Roald Dahl's adult works.

These seven cunningly crafted works of fiction -- loosely connected into a saga spanning decades -- draw you into a fascinating fabric peopled with characters both comic and complex.

First is the story of Aurora -- a simple but happy girl who grows up in the rambling Yelets orphanage in Eastern Russia, easily the tallest girl in the place.

"She was six-foot-five and eighteen years old when she shut the rusty, creaky orphanage gate behind herself."

But it's her puzzling situation in Scotland a few years later that will most interest readers. She is told that her job is to stay out in the verdant hills of a Scottish distillery's landholding from dawn to dusk, wearing a dazzling fireflower-red dress, and midnight-blue Wellington boots with four pairs of thick socks.

She marries one of the owner's sons -- Adam -- and, soon after their wedding night, he reveals the singular story of how one day he broke a hallowed family tradition and forever established the tiny distillery's worldwide reputation for its exquisite Limited Edition Rettrey Old Garden Malt, priced at 350 dollars for a single bottle.

The remaining six stories bring a bit more depth to an ever-growing -- and infinitely entertaining -- plotline, with the birth of baby Marion to a Hungarian emigre and a woman who passes out in the back of his cab one cold night in Toronto.

The child receives a rude introduction into a world in which she learns to fight for everything she receives. The following perfectly turned phrase succinctly foreshadows the girl's future:

"Marion was born on a cold winter's day on the top floor of a Canadian hospital - into a marriage that had been doomed from the start."

It is just this extraordinary gift for storytelling that carries the reader through tale after tale -- each one building on the one before it, or bringing one suddenly face-to-face with a loose end tied up nicely with a literary bow.

We return to the Scottish distillery time and again, meeting such memorable players as Mary and Padriac, Leona and Charlie (reluctant heir to the family business). We also meet Kati neni and her seventy percent peach palinka (Hungarian moonshine), and a precocious child prodigy named Estella, who, though mute for much of her early life, cannot be shut up once started. Indeed, her contributions to this tale occasionally tread into the realm of theology.

During a discussion in church with a cousin, she expresses concern on where her dead uncle's soul has gone. The cousin explains the matter succinctly:

"The angels help them with butterfly nets, so they don't get lost."

This excellent read is rife with delightfully quirky characters and never fails to surprise the reader with one unexpected plot turn after another.

For example, there's the curious question near the end of the book as to why the distillery's award-winning whiskey has suddenly changed its flavor overnight. It's a surprise ending you won't soon forget.

Five-plus stars to The Essence of Life. It's a fine addition to the other two books by author Rain Arlender: a title called simply "Y", and its sequel: "Y2".

Congratulations to Ms. Arlender for an absorbing and entertaining collection of quality fiction.

The MisFit: The Early Years
AB Plum
Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B01MPY736B, 110 pages, Price $0.99,

Alexei Romanov, teen-aged heir to a fortune, falls forward suddenly from a Copenhagen train station platform into the path of an oncoming engine. His death is instantaneous.

His younger brother, Michael -- unnoticed, unloved, unwanted by his feckless mother and brutal father -- dances in his bedroom, mentally reliving the instant he pushed his brother from behind.

He is The Misfit, and this is his story -- a rare and chilling look inside the fathomless mind of a deeply troubled, pathological eleven-year-old. It is brilliant, and a story worth savoring for its psychological depth and unmatched writing style.

"Killing's like a drug," Michael tells his foster brother, Dimitri a week after murdering Alexei. "Waiting to do it again is hard."

He and Dimitri have sealed their filial bond with blood and travel the streets of Copenhagen like predatory pack wolves. After stalking a pretty young girl who snubbed them at a pastry shop, they pummel her with rock-hard snowballs and leave her bleeding in the frigid night.

They kick a homeless man until his ribs crack. They knock a pet shop owner unconscious before stealing a little anonymous present for Michael's mother. It leaves her screaming in hysteria.

To grownups, headmasters, and police officers, they feign innocence. But deep inside each boy there is insouciance bordering on the bizarre. These are multifaceted characters whose profound sense of abandonment leads them to ever more ruthless acts of adolescent outrage.

There is also masterful writing here. Consider, for example this finely turned description of a new housekeeper:

"Emma had the sexual attraction of a broom. A plain silver cross on a tight chain adorned her drab black dress. It fell to her ankles. They were, ironically, thick - as if all her body fat had accumulated above her sturdy black shoes."

And, there's this succinct summary of a long pause in one of the parents' heated discussions:

"The silence rang with the deep resonance of a Tibetan gong."

Michael and his friend engage in more mischief -- large and small -- adroitly dodging blame while making those they deem as persecutors pay a heavy price. It could easily be a primer on how to become a skilled and deadly juvenile delinquent.

The book is a short one -- though fitting as the start of what can only be a fascinating series featuring the carefully calculating boy and his best friend.

Five-plus stars to The Misfit. If you like your stories dark and deep -- yet eminently readable -- you'll love this one.

The Beauty of the Fall
Rich Marcello
Langdon Street Press
322 1st Ave N, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55401
ISBN: 9781635054026, $16.95, 378 pp.
ASIN: B01MFCTYYW, $9.99, 283 pp.,

Ten-year-old Zackery Underlight is dead. His father Dan, however, is just learning to live again.

There is a certain haunting lyricism to this remarkable book about a father coming to grips with the death of his only son -- a death he feels he caused. There's also a tortured search for self-renewal and forgiveness that extends far beyond the natural grieving of a parent for his child.

Other recent losses for Dan include a failed marriage and the sudden evaporation of his high-powered, high-tech job -- the one that consumed so much of the time he now feels he should have spent with Zack.

On the one hand, he feels keenly the unfocused anger and seeming senselessness of his situation. But, on the other, he feels the need to harness and channel his rage and guilt into something constructive and therapeutic.

So, improbably, he begins an offbeat pilgrimage across America, covering twelve thousand miles, thirty-two states -- and 234 Fortune 500 companies. His goal: to construct a Lilliputian pyramid of small stones on the campus of every corporate giant across the nation.

If this sounds strange, it somehow makes perfect sense in the context of this masterfully written book. Dan is searching for something intangible as he pursues his odd quest. At one point prior to beginning, he ponders to himself:

"How can I extract meaning from the universe when loss and betrayal have corroded and burnt my cherished memories? How can I reconstitute after being charred and dissolved?"

It's a fair question about the vagaries of the cosmos, and, as he brings his odyssey to an abrupt halt just off I-5 in California -- the result of being robbed by a hitchhiker -- he decides to turn his energy in a new direction: the startup of his own tiny technology firm.

ConversationWorks, or "CW," takes off like a bullet shot into cyberspace. It's a brand-new social media app that places far-flung parties in a series of virtual conference rooms to find solutions to weighty problems facing the world.

At least that's the idealistic objective. Here's Dan's overarching vision of the singular, groundbreaking concept:

"ConversationWorks is a local problem-solving network with global scale. It's software that allows small group conversation to scale all the way from coffeehouses, to towns, to cities, to the world, with the primary goal of collectively working on problems that matter to its users."

It is, effectively, a technology platform where "conversations are active and focused on solving problems instead of socializing."

So, imagine Twitter without the interaction-limiting, forced brevity; Facebook without the memes and cute kittens. Instead, there is substantive dialogue and meaningful social change through consensus and aggregated resolve.

The software and revolutionary VR hardware that make it work, however, are quickly subverted by early adopters to far less noble notions -- such as ordinary business teleconferencing, family-to-family interactions, virtual blind dates, and even pornography (which the team quickly bans).

And through it all -- the eager market acceptance, the explosive worldwide growth -- Dan is still filled with relational angst.

He parts ways with gentle Willow, his first companion since he and his wife split up. He clings desperately to his core development team at CW. And he increasingly has extended conversations with his dead son -- full-blown, holographic encounters in which a now-teen-aged Zack gives his father sage advice on his day-to-day decisions.

And there are other, darker rituals into which Dan drifts, seeking solace in a self-imposed purgatory amidst universal acclaim for his world-changing creation.

These carefully paced reveals of a deeply conflicted character -- coupled with a fascinating glimpse into how high-tech start-ups are born -- make this one of the year's best works of literary fiction.

Its rich depth, satisfying substance, and willingness to examine key social issues such as global warming and battered women, force the reader to confront the truly inconvenient truths all around us while remaining invested in the story's key players.

Indeed, the book strikes a beautiful balance between detailed, fact-filled exposition and the need to drive the central storyline forward -- often with compellingly evocative prose and poetry:

"Against my cheek, her shawl smells like freshly woven wool on a cold fall day and feels like a refuge after too many unkind nights."

And, this, upon hearing of Zack's death:

"Ghosts pass through me like dry ice, drain whatever life energy exists."

And, finally, this, after a boardroom showdown with Dan's former boss:

"Olivia smiles as if the blood is already on her teeth."

So much good imagery en route to a satisfying conclusion.

This is a rare read, and one to be savored, especially now, when seeking respite from the current worries of an uncertain national -- and international -- future. It's good tonic for the soul; a restorative tale of perseverance against tall odds.

Five-plus stars to Beauty of the Fall. From start to finish, it never disappoints.

Don Sloan, Reviewer
Publishers Daily Reviews

Susan's Bookshelf

The Jerusalem Inception
Avraham Azrieli
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781451549515, $13.98, 376 Pages,

Genre: Mystery Thriller

The book begins by setting the scene, it is midnight 1944, and Tanya, a young Jewish girl is in a car with her lover, and saviour, General Klaus Koenig. Klaus Koenig is meeting with his old school friend, and banker Armande Hoffgeitz for the last time, Germany is losing the war and the last of the jewels taken from the victims at the concentration camps must be hidden away safely. But waiting to ambush the car are Elie and Abraham, renegade Jews, intent in wreaking revenge on the Germans for the monstrosities they are committing.

When Elie and Abraham find Tanya, they allow her to stay with them. Soon she and Abraham fall in love. However their happiness is brief, when Elie returns from a raid alone...

Now we jump forward 21 years, and discover that Abraham did not die, but is instead the very important leader of the Neturay Karta, a fiercely anti-Zionist Orthodox sect in Jerusalem.

Tanya is now a respected Mossad secret agent, but her feelings have never died for the handsome young man she thought she's lost all those years ago.

Therefore, when she discovers he is alive, she has to meet him. However, he is married now, and has a 17 year old son, Jerusalem, or Lemmy, who is a Talmudic scholar. What's more Abraham is using his important religious standing for another purpose, doing what he feels he must, in a desperate attempt to prevent a second Holocaust.

The repercussions for Abraham's family are far reaching, and young Lemmy's life changes in ways he could never have imagined, causing him to question his Talmudic lessons, and things he always believed were true.

Set in a turbulent, modern Jerusalem, this eye-opener of a book tells the story of three people, all survivors of WWII, and how their survival shaped their lives, and made them determined, in their own different ways, to ensure the horrors inflicted on the Jews would never be repeated again.

This book gives an amazing insight into what it was like to live in Jerusalem during those turbulent times, the differences between the Zionists and anti-Zionists, and a glimpse into the government workings, secrets, and agents behind the scenes. Also, as a non-Jewish reader, I enjoyed learning about the Jewish beliefs, and traditions, and finding out about the motivation and leadership behind such an extreme group as the Neturay Karta.

Woven within its pages are secrets and lies, loves lost and hidden, resentment and betrayal.

This amazing story develops in ways in which the reader would never have imagined, and I thoroughly recommend it to mystery and suspense thriller fans.

Dynomike: Come At Me, Bro
Frankie B. Rabbit
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781539630951, $14.99, 58 Pages

In this adventure, Dynomike the indomitable dinosaur shows his friends, and teaches his readers how to combat a common problem, both for adults and children, bullying.

Instead of a place to have fun, the playground has become scary, a place of fear, terrorized by big Bully Bob Horn.

All the friends want to have fun and play during recess, but instead they are picked on by big Bully Bob Horn. He is terrifying them, charging in, intimidating them, being threatening, stealing their things and really make their life a misery.

This is until the indomitable Dynomike makes a stand. You see, he knows that deep down bullies are really cowards, and Bully Bob Horn's blustering behaviour really hides his spinelessness. Saving the day, he distracts the bully in the funniest of ways, but decides that the harassment has got to stop, the situation cannot continue, but how can they do this?

Then, Dynomike forms a plan! You see, he realizes that if they all stand together, they are strong. So, bravely they stand up to Bully Bob Horn, and an amazing transformation takes place...

In this enlightening, beautifully illustrated rhyming book, children discover the truth behind why Bully Bob Horn is a bully. The story teaches them how to cope with intimidation and terrorisation, and enables them to bring out their inner strength and conquer their fears.

Dynomike: Friendsgiving
Frankie B. Rabbit
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781539921981, $14.99, 52 Pages,

Genre Children's Book

This is a lovely story celebrating what Thanksgiving is REALLY about.

You see, everyone in Dynomike's class is excited, all they can do is talk about food all the time. They can't wait for the home bell to ring, and love chattering about the tasty things their family enjoy on Thanksgiving Day.

Dynomike listens to them talking about all the delicious treats they are looking forward to on this special holiday, and feels sad. For him, in his house there will be no turkey, pumpkin pies, corn fritters or other lovely treats eat.

He goes very quiet, and his friends wonder what is the matter? So he explains, it's because it has been a difficult year for his mom, and they haven't any money to buy lots of lovely food.

At home, all is sad, and then on Thanksgiving night there is a knock at the door.

Who could it be?

His friends arrive with lot of delicious treats for him, and his mum.

And so, in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, they all have a very special dinner, and joining hands around the table Dynomike, with all his special friends, give thanks to the Lord for all he provides. Then afterwards they have lots of fun, and Dynomike is so happy because he has had the best 'Friendsgiving' ever.

I read this super rhyming book my grandsons when they came around. They loved it and can't wait to read more of Dynomike's adventures.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Teri's Bookshelf

Telonaut: Book 1 of the Teloverse Series
Matt Tyson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535163972, $11.99 PB, $1.99 Kindle, 364 pages,

Sero Novak's current age is forty-six years old. However, he was born one hundred seventeen years ago. For the missing sixty-nine years, he was just code - a spider map - on a permaDrive, waiting for a body.

Currently, he is occupying his eleventh human body.

Sero is the lead Telonaut auditor, whose responsibility is to evaluate the space colony of NineDee. As the auditor, he lives on a wet world planet while assessing construction progress and getting to know the residents and their aspirations..

Attitudes have changed substantially over the past centuries. Back in the twentieth century, people hoped their children would have better lives. People worked hard so that their kids could have a better life. Everyone competed to have more than their neighbors. This philosophy just didn't work with so many people losing out in a competitively structured society and after the final global financial crisis, the world crumbled.

Life had to change. People came to believe that to be successful; teamwork would be essential for the good of everyone and the Race was born. Now cooperation rules, rather than competition.

Through that cooperation society build wondrous new things, one of which is the idea of being a colonist on an extraterrestrial planet. Creating a new civilization brings hope and dreams alive again.

New planets bring new challenges. Humans are still flawed even though people do their best for the good of all, at least most of the time. Encountering a new environment and different life forms is exciting.

Through advances in technology, Sero is connected to the rest of humanity through NeuroVision's memory technology for everyone to witness his experiences, so human society lives the adventure with him - or so it seems.

Sero partners with a teenaged girl who calls this colony home. Prid's relatable character is inquisitive and diligent while assisting Sero with his explorations into colony life, and adds humor in strenuous and dangerous situations - a good contrast to his personal journey of development through loss grief and resilience.

Being science fiction, lessons about humanity, society, ethics, are evident as well as the consequences of upsetting the natural balance of an environment. Throughout the adventure, the experience of every action having an equal and opposite reaction plays out, even if it takes a little time.

Author Matt Tyson has written this dystopian adventure while working with a volunteer program in Africa with his family now residing in South Africa. He earned a bachelor degree in Genetics and a masters degree in Bioinformatics from the University of Liverpool in England and the novel contains a wealth of believable and detailed scientific background on how a future society might stitch together.

Telonaut possesses a winning combination with superb character development, constant uncertainty over when the characters are safe, tumbling adventure and dangerous situations, along with the introduction of new life forms, which forces the reader to wonder about the choices for everyone's survival in a futuristic setting using scientific advancements in a seemingly utopian situation.

With each page, the reader is with Sero observing the new worlds of both NineDee and future Earth. Join the journey of Sero, through his eyes as the lead Telonaut auditor.

The Emerald Key
Mark Frederickson and Melora Pineda
Blue Tulip Publishing
9781942246718, $12.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 180pp,

The end of the school year is always a relief for eighth-grade students. Laci Reece did not notice when her classmates exited the classroom for their summer vacation. As usual, her nose is in a book as usual.

Laci always carries a bookbag filled fantasy novels complete with various mythical creatures. Penny Wright has a special friendship with Laci. Though opposite in popularity and personalities, the two value their long friendship with acceptance of each other's differences and delight in the time they share together.

The two girls visit Penny's grandmother as wedding preparations are throughout the house. After Penny's grandfather had disappeared years ago, she finally had a new relationship and was going to remarry. Years of loneliness and questions had plagued the family for years. There seemed to be no explanation why a caring husband and devoted father would just disappear. Now Roy will be becoming part of the household. He is dull and smells. Change is difficult for everyone.

Penny also has a difficult task. She has to wear a pouffy-pink taffeta dress which a cousin had worn at her grandma's first wedding.

While looking for tablecloths in the attic, the girls noticed something under the floorboards discovering a ring, a journal, and a jewel.

With two of their friends, this discovery opens a world into a dangerous adventure for four teens who wonder if they will ever again see their family and home.

Friendship, loyalty, and recognizing the difference between the good for the personal vs. friends are underlying themes throughout this fast-paced novel for teens while in an adventure of good vs. evil in a world of fantasy.

The pacing with the multitude of quests perfectly intermixes realism with a bit of humor in many life or death situations while learning about trust and instilling the values of loyalty and friendship.

Author Mark Frederickson usually spends his time working in the film industry while his co-author, Melora Pineda previously worked in television. The Emerald Key is the first novel for both.

The Emerald Key is a fantastical adventure featuring loyalty and friendship that is enjoyable for all ages.

Teri Davis

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

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