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

Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 2 February 2016 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andy's Bookshelf Ann's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Chutsky's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf
Gail's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf Kevin's Bookshelf
Linda's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf Moore's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Roderick's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Emperor of Any Place
Tim Wynne-Jones, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
9780763669737, $17.99,

Karyn Saemann

His father's sudden death forces a sixteen-year-old to confront his estranged grandfather and to reconcile an inexplicable past in The Emperor of Any Place, Tim Wynne-Jones' young adult novel about long-held secrets and the futility of war.

Evan's uneventful suburban teenage life, already shattered by his father's death, is further wracked by the emergence of a story from World War II that involves his grandfather, Griff.

Griff, a retired marine, has for nearly three-quarters of a century refused to disclose all he knows about the marooning of a US soldier and a Japanese soldier on a Pacific island during the war. Griff helped rescue the American soldier from the island, but the fate of his Japanese compatriot remains a mystery.

When Evan begins reading a book that had been in his father's possession, containing journal entries of both soldiers, their shocking, violent tale reignites troubling questions about his grandfather's past actions and forever alters Evan's view of destiny.

This is a story about bravery, monsters, unlikely protectors, unlikely friendships, hope, and an old man's determination to control how later generations view events he participated in long ago, that he's never fully come to grips with.

The journal entries painfully underscore both the brutality of war and the humanity that can illuminate its darkest moments.

Evan and Griff are a consummate match, countering each other in an increasingly intense but also darkly funny series of face-offs, as they spar over the truth and what to do with it. Ultimately, they find common ground in a hauntingly poignant metaphor.

The story's trajectory is a wild one, veering unexpectedly into deeply challenging places.
Alternately terrifying and inspiring, The Emperor of Any Place is a masterful entwining of what has been and what is to come.

The Way Home Looks Now
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545609586, $13.59,

Mary Kincaid

This novel is for readers from eight to twelve. For baseball lovers and everyone overcoming their grief after a terrible loss.

This story opens introducing the main character, Peter, running an errand to get eggs from the neighborhood store. He returns to a house where his mother is not in the kitchen. I read on to find out why. It is beautifully written. Peter is well developed and his dialogue is realistic.

Here is the opening:

"I am only gone long enough to get the eggs.

"Ba had asked me to stop by the Minute Mart after school, but I had forgotten and come straight home, only to have to leave again. I ride my bike, but with the eggs I have to ride fast-slow - slow enough that the eggs won't break but fast enough that I won't get in trouble. When I turn the corner to our street, I see my sister, Elaine, sitting on the steps. She had been inside when I left, but now she is outside, holding her binoculars.

"What are you doing, Laney? Looking for birds?" Laney usually looks for birds in the morning, but really, for her, anytime is a good time."

As the story goes on Peter tells us about a before and an after hinting at a tragedy that split the families history into these categories. It is told sensitively with insight into his own grief and response to this tragedy. He discusses the other responses of the family members.

During Peter's attempt to heal himself, he decides to play baseball. When he goes to sign up, his father comes with him to keep him company. When there is a call for a coach for a team because the program doesn't have enough coaches, Ba, Peter's father, volunteers to coach his baseball team. Peter doesn't know Ba can play baseball. Their relationship changes as they go through the season. The team faces many challenges they handle with courage and responsibility.

Wan-Long Shang writes of loss, and grieving and give us this successful story about the love of baseball. The mysterious relationship between a father and son are explored when they are both traumatized by their grief.

I give this story five out of five stars. It is a wonderful story of a boy struggling with grief, his mother's depression, and his inability to communicate with his father. Everyone should enjoy it.

I Dream of Empathy
Marianne Szlyk
Flutter Press
9781517160678, $8.00, 37pp,

Mike Maggio

Marianne Szlyk's I Dream of Empathy is a short collection of narrative poems that deftly address the tenuousness of life in the 21st century. Through well-crafted verse, Szlyk speaks to the daily issues we face as the world around us changes and we are left with nothing but memory, sometimes faded, sometimes as vivid as an old photograph or a painting. Indeed, memory is the overriding theme, tying these poems together as they meander back and forth through a landscape of burned-down tenements, environmental disaster and gentrified cities.

Yet, through all the direness that Szlyk presents - droughts and polluted lakes, tenuous relationships, and lives that persist despite themselves - there rises a voice that conquers all: a voice of beauty and - yes, empathy - a voice that only poetry can conjure under such circumstances. Images such as "scuffed hills" and "scouring waves" pop out everywhere And the music of harps and saxophones rings through verse that is at once syncopated and flush with natural speech rhythms. Lines, such as these from "She Wonders What Will Become Of This City," tie the landscape, once lush, now tainted, with the lost lives that struggle to salvage it:

The green fuzz of moss grows over trees
like plaque on teeth. Bones ache with decay.

Or this stanza from "Harbour Round (I)" in which the narrator laments the absence of human activity in a place where it once existed while at the same time reveling in the ability of nature to reclaim itself:

The ghosts of houses stand
on boulders and pale shrubs,
green fingers sprouting
in the absence of people
and the hard, needled trees
that sprout up inland.

These poems are peopled with characters we recognize from an era gone by; they are painted with a palette that somehow, despite the blight and pollution ("The Nashua River \ that ran red \ or blue or green \ depending on the paper \ Wallace's mill was making") manages to vibrate with an alluring sense of beauty.

A strongly crafted book from an able and empathic poet.

Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story
David Maraniss
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476748382, $32.50,

Paul J. Markowitz

In this bittersweet urban history David Maraniss, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, recounts two critical years in the slow demise of what was once the quintessential American city- Detroit. In this fascinating and thought-provoking story, the author begins in 1962 with the symbolic fire that destroys the Ford Rotunda, the tallest skyscraper in downtown Detroit and a massive testament to the importance of the American auto industry to the city and to the United States. He ends his saga with LBJ giving his "Great Society" speech at the University of Michigan graduation ceremony in 1964 which only illuminates the sadness of LBJ's missed opportunities and that of Detroit's.

The years 1962-1964 are particularly significant to Detroit, according to Maraniss, because they are at the apogee of Detroit's success with American car companies. Yet there were already indications that serious problems loomed in the near future in such a non-diversified city. In 1962 Detroit had 1.8 million people, the fifth largest U.S. city, earning good money largely through auto industry related work. Today only 688,000 people live in Detroit with large segments of the city abandoned and deteriorating.

Maraniss weaves several interesting stories regarding key individuals and their impact on Detroit - Jerome Cavanaugh, the young charismatic mayor attempting but failing to garner the 1968 Olympics for Detroit; C.L. Franklin, the flamboyant community leader, pastor and father of Aretha; Berry Gordy, the talented leader of Motown who was just getting traction with Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops and the Supremes among others; George Romney, the newly elected moderate Republican governor who would later run for President; Martin Luther King, the historic civil rights leader who would preview his "I have a dream" speech in Detroit nine weeks before the March on Washington; Malcolm X, the Michigan born Black Muslim leader who was already challenging King on his non-violent beliefs; Walter Reuther, the politically powerful and influential President of the United Auto Workers; and Lyndon Johnson, the newly sworn in President who would deliver his historic "Great Society" speech in nearby Ann Arbor.

Yet ultimately the core of the book would be the auto industry, the initial reason for Detroit's success yet ultimately the reason for its demise. 1962 was the second best car year ever yet already one-half of all vehicles were made outside the United States. The VW bug, which proved extremely successful without changing its design every year, was a big success but the Japanese car companies were just beginning to impact America.

The U.S. auto industry saw the growth of two car families and bet heavily on cars with more power, more luxury, more room and concomitantly more cost despite Walter Reuther's admonishment that smaller, cheaper cars was the way to go. Added to these bad choices was an urban renewal program which was often referred to as "negro removal". But most critically was the beginning of a mass exodus of middle class whites to the suburbs. This "white flight" would critically damage the city with an ever dwindling tax base.

Maraniss, born in Detroit and now associate editor of the Washington Post, brings not only first class research but also a bit of nostalgia to this cautionary tale.

Stories in Green Ink
Anna Trowbridge
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781522737988, $15.49, 182 Pages,

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Language: English / Genre: Short Stories

Compiled by Anna Trowbridge, "Stories in Green Ink" is a compilation of short stories written fourteen very talented authors.

The authors come from all over the world Australia, England, France, Portugal, America and South Africa. Some are fiction, others are true. My favourite is by Borghild Strandenes a Norwegian author living in France, she writes of her animals and love of them in a very warm and natural way. Her story is very gentle and it takes a while to realise that the characters she meets and talks about are in fact her own beloved rescue animals, each with a tale to tell and a very special place in her heart.

If you like your stories a little risque then you will not be disappointed in Sherri Clark's story. Should you enjoy something creepy then Janet Langman has some good tales. There's fantasy, mystery, and even heartfelt extracts from the true story Travels with an African Husky by John Martin Bradley. All the stories are lovely in their own way, making a lovely compilation with something to suit all tastes.

The contributing authors are: Janet Langman; Guy Thair; Catherine Broughton; A. J. Millen; Borghild Strandenes; Tracey Clark; Christine Edney; Sherri Clark; Henry Last; John Martin Bradbury; Rosalind Newsham; Virginia Lowe; Allison Symes; Enoa Francis

Like Footprints in the Wind/A Generation Lost
Pam Atherstone
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432797737, $18.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle,

F. T. Donereau, Reviewer

Pamela Atherstone's ...Like Footprints In The Wind: A Generation Lost, is certainly a Historical novel in every sense of the word. I do believe though, that it brings much more to the table than is normally associated with that particular genre. You have a sweeping tale of family and tribulations and love and faith. You have a place and time that evokes distance from modern life. All of this is the normal thing for such a work but somehow the author brings it to us in a way that makes us able to feel the world inhabited by the Jahnle family and those around them, as if it were actually us, or loved ones of our own. The story comes alive fully and enables us to live it along with the characters. This is rare in Historical undertakings. And welcome.

As the book opens Johannes Jahnle is a farmer about to harvest his crops. The yield looks promising and he is a contented man. The Russian world he lives in is his as much as anyone's. He loves his wife and children and they are happy in their lives. Simply because they are of German descent though, they are in trouble. I had never heard of the Purge of the Kulaks prior to the reading of this fine novel. Based on real stories, the tale that unfolds is an astonishing, gut wrenching one. The family is torn from their land and all they know by Russian soldiers. They are forced to endure a harrowing journey that leads them to the isolating deprivation that is the labor camps on the coast of the White Sea, in Siberia. Getting there is a fraught existence. The world they arrive into ends up being an ice brick scratched out of some devil's frozen hell. Miss Atherstone carves these things to life in such a way as to make them as compellingly real as any moment that might have been truly experienced by the reader, employing the kind of writing that makes great fiction, great story telling.

The author does not rely on flowery prose to evoke her worlds. Clean hard lines are used to draw the pictures between the covers of ...Like Footprints In The Wind.

This is as it should be. The story, at times, is brutal. The family faces trials that seem and probably were designed to tear them down to nothing. Sorrows within are immense. There is great cruelty, deprivation, and even death. If the words used were not cut out of stone, a false prettiness might have covered things, which would have only taken away from what is being laid down here.

Johannes Jahnle is a good man. He is wise and blessed with an inner strength his family would have been hard pressed to survive without. There is that kind of strength in his wife, Katerina, as well. It was lifting to find a woman protagonist who did not crumble and fade under enormous pressures. I confess though that I think my favorite of the characters may be the Jahnle's daughter, Anya. She is a spirit of high order and love becomes her. The family is bolstered by their faith. It is the thing, I think, that really brings them through. It is tested and finally clung to. That, as well, is refreshing.

Really I find this book an important work; it brings forth an historical happening, a tragic piece of history the world ought to know better. Miss Atherstone is a master story teller. The goodness that flows through the horror wrought is a dynamic any age needs more of. The Jahnle's are a people I would love to know. Their faith is a special thing. It all might have been less in the hands of someone not as capable as Pamela Atherstone. She should find great success with this saga. Trust me when I say, you will gain knowledge and feel things deeply simply by opening the pages and falling into them.

Andy's Bookshelf

Breaking Big Money's Grip on America
Bruce Berlin
Our Time Books
9780996623209 $14.95 pbk / $8.95 Kindle

Sober and strident, Breaking Big Money's Grip on America is a "must-read" in today's modern era where political advertisements are regularly and legally financed by gigantic corporations (which are considered to have the same "free speech" rights as individual people in the landmark Supreme Court decision "Citizens United"). Breaking Big Money's Grip speaks out against gerrymandering - a redistricting practice that makes elected positions "safe", used by both Republicans and Democrats, which reduces any incentive to serve the people instead of monied interests. The electoral collage is also criticized, as it weighs the votes of people in small states more heavily than people in large states - and potentially enables a President to be elected while losing the popular vote. Above all, Breaking Big Money's Grip on America urges readers to become politically active and make their voices heard, and offers suggestions to improve a peaceful mass movement to turn America around. Highly recommended.

The King
Tom Locke
Roundfire Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785352072, $16.95, PB, 224pp,

In the pages of Tom Locke's deftly crafted novel, "The King", readers will be introduced to Vince Kingmyle, a fantasist, a philistine, an entrepreneur, a misogynist and a golf bore. Vince runs a company promoting golf tourism in Edinburgh and has big plans, at least in his own mind, to which end he enlists the help of an old work colleague, Sean Monaghan, to build up his IT system. Sean is diffident and cultured, and suffers Vince for the money, but when new recruit Lucy appears on the scene and they uncover Vince's secrets, he finally decides enough is enough. Brimming with humor and mischief, "The King" is an unfailingly entertaining and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The King" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Pine Marten
Wallace J. Swenson
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432831219, $25.95, HC, 231pp,

A riveting western set in the Missouri wilderness of 1855, "Pine Marten" by Wallace J. Swenson is a deftly crafted novel about a vengeance quest in which Salem Greene tracks down the perpetrators who savagely assaulted and murdered his wife and daughter, while his twelve year old son is missing and presumed dead. The boy has survived and is living in a cave and foraging for food as best he can. Will father and son ever be united? A truly great read from beginning to end, "Pine Marten" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections.

Andy Jordan

Ann's Bookshelf

Beside Myself
Ann Morgan
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632864338, $26.00 HC, $16.00 PB, $9.17 Kindle, 336 pages

Helen and Ellie are identical twins. Even their mother does their hair differently so that she can easily distinguish one from the other. Helen has plaits; Ellie has bunches. But Helen is more confident than Ellie and seems cleverer. Ellie, so the family story goes, was born with the cord round her neck, so she is slower. But when Helen decides that they will swap identities for a day, exchanges their hairstyles and clothes, and coaches Ellie to imitate her own way of speaking and holding herself, it seems that Ellie is smarter than anyone suspected. And Ellie enjoys being Helen so much that she refuses to change back.

Helen is now seen by everyone as being Ellie. Even her mother, distracted and pre-occupied with a new partner, refuses to believe her when she tries to convince her otherwise. Helen's friends now become Ellie's friends and reject her, as they once did Ellie. And everything Helen does to change this situation seems only to make matters worse. Her school-work deteriorates and, as she gets more and more frustrated and angry, so does her behaviour and her mental state. Her life becomes nightmarish, whilst Ellie's blossoms.

The Prologue of the book introduces us to Helen and Ellie as small, mischievous children on the day when the game of swapping identities begins. But already, there is an element of dark foreboding in the book. Escaping from their garden and running off to find a friend to play with, they meet their friend's unpleasant older brother. When he makes over-friendly overtures to them, Helen, not understanding what is going on but sensing that something is not right, drags her sister away from the house. This older brother turns up, more threateningly, later in Helen's life.

From the very first chapter of the book, however, we know just how badly Helen's life has turned out. It is twenty-five years later and she is 'Smudge', living in squalor, fuelled by cigarettes and alcohol, relying on benefits and hand-outs, supported at times by the Samaritans, and plagued by voices in her head. When the phone rings, she thinks, at first, that the noise is in her mind. But when it rings again she picks it up. It turns out to be her estranged mother, phoning to tell her that her sister has been in an accident and is in a coma and that she only rang to tell her before she read about it in the newspapers. Her sister, it seems has become a well-know media personality. Smudge claims that her mother has got a wrong number, and puts the phone down.

From then on, alternating chapters chart the developments in Smudge's life as she is gradually drawn back into the family circle; and the step-by-step progress of earlier nightmares as Helen and Ellie (now Helen) grow from childhood into adulthood.

This is a dark but compelling story and we see things, first, from a child's perspective, then from that of a disturbed teenager, and later from that of an adult suffering from bi-polar disorder. Always, there is the tension of misunderstandings, truth and lies, acceptance and rejection, alternating mental clarity and confusion, unexpected successes and almost inevitable failure.

Ann Morgan makes Helen/Smudge a convincing character and she manages the tensions in the book so skillfully that one's empathy with Helen's plight make you constantly hope for some seemingly impossible happy resolution. Her mother is a monster, tough, bitter and vindictive; Ellie remains a shadowy figure, even before she is comatose; the family history gradually reveals something about the twins' father; and other characters are lightly sketched but important only as they affect Helen's emotions and her life. Suffice it to say that there is no trite conclusion, there are surprises and shocks, and Helen's future is potentially brighter, but, realistically, there are no guarantees.

Open Very Carefully (Ages 2+)
Nick Bromley and Nicola O'Byrne
Nosy Crow
c/o The Crow's Nest
10a Lant Street, London, England, SE1 1QR
9780857635921, $12.99 PB, $3.50 Board Book, 16 pages,

This book is a delight. It is imaginative, funny and inventive, and it deserves to become a classic, like Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar. It may be a board book but in my family it has been enjoyed by people aged from two to eighty.

It is beautifully written and illustrated, and the whole concept - the highjacking of the traditional story of The Ugly Duckling by a fearsome crocodile trapped in the book - is surprising and scary, and never failed to thrill reader and listener alike. We had fun, too, having to rock the book and shake the book to help the small, mischievous duckling who tells the story to placate the crocodile.

Even the cover promises surprises: "Open very carefully" it says on the front. And "Go on. I dare you" on the back.

Try it. Go on, I dare you!

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

A Reunion of Ghosts
Judith Claire Mitchel
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062355898, $15.99, PB, 416pp,

Synopsis: In the waning days of 1999, the last of the Alters (three damaged but wisecracking sisters who share an apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side) decide it's time to close the circle of the family curse by taking their own lives. But first, Lady, Vee, and Delph must explain the origins of that curse and how it has manifested throughout the preceding generations. Unspooling threads of history, personal memory, and family lore, they weave a mesmerizing account that stretches back a century to their great-grandfather, a brilliant scientist whose professional triumph became the terrible legacy that defines them. A suicide note crafted by three bright, funny women, "A Reunion of Ghosts" is the final chapter of a saga lifetimes in the making and one that is inexorably intertwined with the story of the twentieth century itself.

Critique: A beautifully crafted and original novel, "A Reunion of Ghosts" clearly establishes author Judith Claire Mitchel as an extraordinary literary talent. Very highly entertaining and recommended reading, it should be noted that "A Reunion of Ghosts" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99) for personal reading lists, as in a hardcover edition (9780062355881, $26.99) for community library collections.

Where Memories Meet
Christine M. Grote
Grote Ink, LLC
9780983819820, $13.95, PB, 310pp,

Synopsis: "Where Memories Meet: Reclaiming My Father After Alzheimer's" by Christine Grote is two intertwining stories. It is her personal memoir of losing her father to Alzheimer's, and her father Jerry's account of the defining moments of his life. Christine's story, beginning at the end of her father's life and proceeding backwards in time, is interwoven with Jerry's narration of his life from birth in the 1930's. Christine invites us into her parents' home where accommodations are continually made for her father as he loses his memory, judgment, and mobility. She allows us into her heart as she struggles to accept and live with the loss of her father, often repressing her own memories of the man she once relied on to cope with the challenges posed by the man he was becoming. As Alzheimer's progressively steals her father's memories, it also steals her own. Christine's unconventional story time line allows her to move past memories of the heartbreak of Jerry's last years, and in effect, reclaim her father after Alzheimer's when she arrives at that place in time where memories meet.

Critique: Deftly presented with candor and grace, "Where Memories Meet: Reclaiming My Father After Alzheimer's" is a poignant and personal story that is an informative and absorbing read from beginning to end. Especially recommended for anyone having to struggle with the medical condition Alzheimer's for themselves or a loved one, "Where Memories Meet" will prove to be an enduringly valued addition to both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Where Memories Meet" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Murder at the Courthouse
A. H. Gabhart
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800726768, $12.99, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: After a few years as a police officer in Columbus, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried (after all the man was a stranger) until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street. As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

Critique: The latest addition to A. H. Gabhart's brilliant 'Hidden Springs Mystery Series', "Murder at the Courthouse" is an absolutely compelling read from beginning to end. As a mystery novelist Gabhart has an impressive ability to deftly craft unexpected twists and turns into her who-done-it style that plays fair with the reader in a true Agatha Christie style. An wonderfully entertaining mystery, "Murder at the Courthouse" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "Murder at the Courthouse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.13).

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594748899, $14.95, PB, 335pp,

Synopsis: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", a bold reimagining of Jane Austen's classic novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (author of "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" and who wrote the screenplay for the Tim Burton film "Dark Shadows"). As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton -- and the dead are returning to life. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers - and even more violent sparring on the bloodsoaked battlefield. Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is an audacious retelling of English literature's most enduring novel.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and absorbing read from beginning to end, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is especially commended to the attention of horror fantasy fans and is soon to be a major motion picture. Indeed, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

Eat Yourself Pregnant
Zita West
Nourish Books
Angel Business Club
9781848992078, $14.95, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: Interest in natural ways to improve fertility is soaring. For many people, it feels time to take control of their health to give themselves the best chance to get their body baby-ready and increase their chances of getting pregnant. Zita West, who is a midwife to the stars, knows that nutrition can make a huge difference to your fertility. "Eat Yourself Pregnant: Essential Recipes to Boosting your Fertility Naturally" is her first nutritional health cookbook. She explains how equipping your body with essential nutrients ensures that your reproductive system is prepared for a successful pregnancy. Part 1 of "Eat Yourself Pregnant" will show you how to assess your fertility. Next in "Eat Yourself Pregnant" there is a detox plan to cleanse your body of chemicals that can prevent conception, and prepare your body; followed by a 10-week fertility-boosting programme. Zita ensures that the vital nutrients are all included: especially magnesium, zinc, selenium and manganese. She also includes notes for both men as well as women, and for those trying for a baby later in life, or with specific problems, such as PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids. Part 2 of "Eat Yourself Pregnant" contains 80 mouth-watering recipes, all designed to be easily incorporated into a busy life. Try Indonesian Chicken with Buckwheat Noodles, Chilli-Glazed Salmon with Cucumber Lime Salad or Molasses Ginger Cookies. All delicious and all going a long way to help you to realise your dream of having a baby.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Eat Yourself Pregnant: Essential Recipes to Boosting your Fertility Naturally" should be considered a "must" for every woman seeking to have children of their own that will be as healthy as possible from the moment of conception, to the moment of birth. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eat Yourself Pregnant: Essential Recipes to Boosting your Fertility Naturally" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

Every Mother's Son
Val Wood
Magna Large Print Books
Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780750541572, $35.50, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: Harriet and Fletcher Tuke have worked hard to raise their children well. Daniel, the eldest son, has always accepted that his birth father died shortly after he was born, and Fletcher has brought Daniel up as his own. But as Daniel comes of age and falls in love with childhood friend Beatrice Hart, he can't help but wonder about his heritage - his olive skin and dark eyes reminding him daily of the difference between him and his siblings, and between his and Beatrice's families. Meanwhile, shocking truths about Fletcher's own family line are suddenly brought to the surface, revealing a connection between the two families.

Critique: Impressively well written and thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, "Every Mother's Son" showcases the exceptional storytelling talents of Val Wood and is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. This large print edition in particular is certain to be enduringly popular and especially commended for personal recreational reading lists.

The Last Thousand
Jeffrey E. Stern
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250049933, $26.99, HC, 366pp,

Synopsis: Under the protection of foreign forces, a special place has flourished in Afghanistan. The Marefat School is an award-winning institution in the Western slums of Kabul, built by one of the country's most vulnerable minority groups, the Hazara. Marefat educates both girls and boys, embraces the arts, and teaches students to question the world around them, interrogate their leaders, and be active citizens in their quickly-changing country. As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, this community is left behind, unprotected.

In the pages of "The Last Thousand: One School's Promise in a Nation at War", journalist Jeffrey E. Stern explores the stakes of war through the eyes of those touched by Marefat: Aziz Royesh, the school's daring founder and leader; a mother of five who finds freedom in literacy; a clever mechanic; a self-taught astronomer; the school's security director; and several intrepid students who carry Marefat's mission to the streets. We see how Marefat has embraced the U.S. and blossomed under its presence; and how much it stands to lose when that protection disappears.

"The Last Thousand" tells the story of what we leave behind when our foreign wars end, presenting the promise, as well as the peril, of our military adventure abroad. Stern presents a nuanced and fascinating portrait of the complex history of Afghanistan, American occupation, and the ways in which one community rallies together in compelling, heartbreaking, and inspiring detail.

Critique: Remarkably informative, impressively researched, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Last Thousand: One School's Promise in a Nation at War" is a compelling read and should be a part of every community and academic library collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Last Thousand" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

The Story of God's Love for You
Sally Lloyd-Jones
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310736028, $14.99, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: "The Story of God's Love for You" is an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne, and everything else, to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this story is that it's true. And at the center of the story, there is a baby upon whom everything would depend. All the stars and mountains and the oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened, whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was that the wonderful love story began.

Critique: Sally Lloyd-Jones is a leading writer of inspirational books for children. She is the author of three bestselling children's Bibles. Enhanced with the illustrative talents of Jago, "The Story of God's Love for You" was originally published as the award winning book for young readers, "The Jesus Storybook Bible". This new edition is very highly recommended for church and community library Christian Studies collections. For the personal and family reading lists of all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliation, it should noted that "The Story of God's Love for You" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Only the Stones Survive
Morgan Llywelyn
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765337924, $24.99, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: For centuries the Tuatha De Danann lived in peace on an island where time flowed more slowly and the seasons were gentle -- until that peace was shattered by the arrival of invaders. The Gaels, the Children of Milesios, came looking for easy riches and conquest, following the story of an island to the west where their every desire could be granted. They had not anticipated that it would already be home to others, and against the advice of their druids, they begin to exterminate the Tuatha De Danann. After a happy and innocent childhood, Joss was on the cusp of becoming a man when the Gaels slaughtered the kings and queens of the Tuatha De Danann. Left without a mother and father, he must find a way to unite what is left of his people and lead them into hiding. But even broken and scattered, Joss and his people are not without strange powers.

Morgan Llywelyn weaves Irish mythology, historical elements, and ancient places in the Irish landscape to create a riveting tale of migration, loss, and transformation in Only the Stones Survive.

Critique: Once again Morgan Llywelyn demonstrates her complete mastery of the heroic fantasy genre with "Only the Stones Survive". A riveting use of Irish mythology, Irish history, and Irish locations makes "Only the Stones Survive" perhaps her best work to date. Indeed, for those who have never before experienced her gift for memorable storytelling, "Only the Stones Survive" will compel them to seek out all of her novels. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Only the Stones Survive" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99) and in a complete and unabridged MP3 CD format (Tantor Audio, 9781494566678, $29.99).

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg
Kate Evans
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781784780999, $16.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: A an iconic figure of the political left, Rosa Luxemburg is one of the foremost minds in the canon of revolutionary socialist thought. But she was much more than just a thinker. She made herself heard in a world inimical to the voices of strong-willed women. She overcame physical infirmity and the prejudice she faced as a Jew to become an active revolutionary whose philosophy enriched every corner of an incredibly productive and creative life including her many friendships, her sexual intimacies, and her love of science, nature and art. Always opposed to the First World War, when others on the German left were swept up on a tide of nationalism, she was imprisoned and murdered in 1919 fighting for a revolution she knew to be doomed. "Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg" by writer and artist Kate Evans is a beautifully drawn graphic biography of the dramatic life and death of German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.

Critique: In a unique format that is as informed and informative as it is absolutely absorbing from beginning to end, "Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg" is very highly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Red Rosa" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

The Complete Cancer Organizer
Jamie L. Schwachter
Spry Publishing
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781938170720, $19.95, Spiral Bound, 208pp,

Synopsis: Throughout years of answering calls at renowned Cleveland Clinic's Cancer Answer Line, Advance Practice Nurses Jamie Schwachter and Josette Snyder have spoken with patients of all ages and with all types and stages of cancer. They have listened to countless stories and offered advice. They've answered questions from friends and family members, and even from physicians and other healthcare professionals. What should I wear to chemotherapy? Should I get a second opinion? How do I talk with my family about my cancer? Why does it take so long to get a diagnosis? Is complementary treatment something I should consider? The more questions they fielded, the more they wanted to compile those questions - and their answers - into a resource to help cancer patients everywhere.

In "The Complete Cancer Organizer: Your Answers to Questions About Living With Cancer", Jamie and Josette share answers to the most common questions about living well during and following cancer treatment. Full of lists, tips, and suggestions, the book allows patients and their families to face a challenging time armed with knowledge and concrete strategies that have worked for others before them. Cancer may be a new experience, but it doesn't have to be faced alone. Cancer Answer nurses Jamie Schwachter and Josette Snyder can help guide you through the process in "The Complete Cancer Organizer".

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, "The Complete Cancer Organizer: Your Answers to Questions About Living With Cancer" is absolutely 'user friendly' throughout. Of special note is the section 'How to help Yourself During Treatment'. Simply stated, "The Complete Cancer Organizer: Your Answers to Questions About Living With Cancer" should be brought to the attention of everyone and anyone confronted with a diagnosis of cancer.

Mark Morris: Musician - Choreographer
Stephanie Jordan
Dance Books Ltd.
Southwold, Isington Road, Binsted, Hampshire, GU34 4PH, UK
9781852731755, $85.00, HC, 560pp,

Synopsis: Of any choreographer working today, the American choreographer Mark Morris is most often cited for emphasis on musical values and standing within the music profession. His work also raises fundamental questions about how music informs our understanding of dance and about the interaction between seeing and hearing. "Mark Morris: Musician - Choreographer" by Stephanie Jordan (Research Professor in Dance at Roehampton University, London) is the first detailed study of Morris's use of music, revealing an unmatched range of approaches to music and strategies for making us hear musical scores in new ways. It also has impact well beyond his work, in outlining a 'choreomusical' (audio-visual) framework for discussion that, for the first time, introduces ideas from cognitive science. Divided into three parts, "Mark Morris: Musician - Choreographer" opens with a discussion of the context of Morris's work as a musical journey across his career and in relation to earlier choreomusical theories and processes. After proposals as to how to watch and listen to dance, Morris's output is discussed within three periods: 1980-88 (the early years of his dance company), 1988-91 (when he was resident in Brussels), and 1992-2014. The choreographer's own voice is heard regularly throughout these pages, and analyses of his dances are brilliantly illustrated by a ground-breaking website of film clips generously hosted by the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Critique: An exceptionally detailed account of an extraordinary talent in the world of modern dance, "Mark Morris: Musician - Choreographer" is especially commended to the attention of academics, professionals, and the non-specialist reader with an interest in the contributions of Mark Morris to music and dance. "Mark Morris: Musician - Choreographer" is an invaluable and critically important addition to community and academic library Dance History and American Biography collections.

In Good Company: 60 Years with The Royal Ballet
Leslie Edwards
Dance Books Ltd.
Southwold, Isington Road, Binsted, Hampshire, GU34 4PH, UK
9781852730970, $35.00, HC, 300pp,

Synopsis; No other dancer has ever matched the amazing career of Leslie Edwards (6 August 1916 - 8 February 2001) with the Royal Ballet: more than sixty years of performing, starting in 1933 and continuing even beyond his official retirement in November 1993. In addition, for the first six years of his career he appeared frequently with Ballet Rambert, and later on was involved with outside events, often featuring Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. And something much more than the length and breadth of his career marked it out as special: there was also the great admiration and affection which he won from audiences and his fellow artists.

Over the years he had a respectable share of leading roles, many of them created by some of the great choreographers of the twentieth century - Frederick Ashton, Ninette de Valois, John Cranko, Robert Helpmann, and Kenneth MacMillan among others. However, he was seen more often in smaller parts, and he showed again and again that these can make just as vital a contribution to a ballet's total effect. It was not by chance that both de Valois and Helpmann remarked to him that he knew how to make something out of little material.

Leslie Edwards was a remarkable and much loved man. This autobiography is peppered with the names of the many famous people with whom he worked and whom he befriended, but he relates a lifetime spent working with the Royal Ballet with charm, modesty, and good.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is replete with detail and an absolutely absorbing read from beginning to end, "In Good Company: 60 Years with The Royal Ballet" is as impressive memoir as the man who wrote it. Very highly recommended the personal reading lists of ballet enthusiasts, as well as for community and academic library History of Dance reference collections in general, and Ballet History supplemental studies lists in particular, "In Good Company" is one of those autobiographies that will linger in the mind and memory long after the volume is finished and set back upon the shelf.

If You Really Want to Change the World
Henry Kressel and Norman Winarsky
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781625278296 $30.00 hc / $16.50 Kindle

Synopsis: If You Really Want to Change the World leads entrepreneurs through the critical stages of venture development, from concept to acquisition or public offering to maintaining a rich culture of innovation in the company. It is a guide by innovators for innovators, with approaches that are practical and timeless. Drawing on the authors' experiences as well as those of their partners from around the world, Kressel and Winarsky share the stories of their triumphs and misses, demonstrate their method in action, and inspire their readers in the process. There are more opportunities now than ever before to build breakthrough companies that touch millions of lives. If this is your goal, let this book be your guide to creating world-changing ventures.

Critique: Written by expert investors, for prospective investors and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, If You Really Want to Change the World explains the stages of business growth, as well as common challenges and pitfalls. "Rarely do CEOs acknowledge their own inability to deal with events. In that case it's the board's role to act; in fact the most important role of the board is to hire and fire the CEO. If the CEO is not right for the position, time and funds are being spent on misdirected plans and products." Notes and an index round out this reader-friendly, plain-terms guide borne of practical experience, highly recommended.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Man with the Golden Typewriter
Fergus Fleming
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632864895, $30.00, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: On August 16, 1952, Ian Fleming wrote to his wife, Ann, "My love, This is only a tiny letter to try out my new typewriter and to see if it will write golden words since it is made of gold." He had bought the golden typewriter as a present to himself for finishing his first novel, "Casino Royale". It marked in glamorous style the arrival of James Bond, agent 007, and the start of a career that saw Fleming become one the world's most celebrated thriller-writers. And he did write golden words. Before his death in 1964 he produced fourteen best-selling Bond books, two works of non-fiction and the famous children's story "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang".

Fleming's output was matched by an equally energetic flow of letters. He wrote constantly, to his wife, publisher, editors, fans, friends and critics (and to the wife of the man whose name Fleming appropriated for his hero) charting 007's progress with correspondence that ranged from badgering Jonathan Cape about his quota of free copies (a coin was tossed and Fleming lost) to apologizing for having mistaken a certain brand of perfume and for equipping Bond with the wrong kind of gun. His letters also reflect his friendship with such contemporaries as Raymond Chandler, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham.

"The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters" is an entertaining and engaging compilation that traces the arc of Fleming's literary career and details the inner working of James Bond. Set against the backdrop of his Jamaican retreat Goldeneye, and a troubled marriage, Fleming's letters are filled with wit, humor and occasional self-doubt. They reveal an intimate portrait of a man, an era and a literary phenomenon.

Critique: Fergus Fleming is Ian Fleming's nephew and thus in the perfect position to do full justice to this literary project. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters" is impressively informative and a "must" for the legions of James Bond fans. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Man with the Golden Typewriter" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A Transformation in American National Politics
Douglas M. Brattebo, tom Lansford, Jack Covarrubias, eds.
The University of Akron Press
30 Amberwood Parkway, Ashland, OH 44805
9781629220031, $29.95, PB, 300pp,

Synopsis: The presidential election of 2012 was among the most important in American history, both for the policies that will persist due to its result, as well as the national political transformation it portends. The contest's outcome was the product of complex and fast-moving societal changes (demographic, technological, and economic) surfacing in American society. "A Transformation in American National Politics: The Presidential Election of 2012" is comprised of informed and informative essays by leading scholars of American politics and the American presidency that insightfully examines the 2012 presidential election in its many facets. Particularly prominent in these analyses are: the role of religious and cultural divisions in contemporary American politics; the status of the two main political parties, their core constituencies, and demographic forces; the rhetorical approaches of the two nominees; the strategies and tactics of the two campaigns; and the decisive impact of economic, domestic, and foreign policies.

Critique: An impressive contribution to professional and academic library Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "A Transformation in American National Politics: The Presidential Election of 2012" is exceptional and highly recommended. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Transformation in American National Politics" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Basic Marquetry and Beyond
Ken Horner
Linden Publishing
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721-9875
9781610352499, $24.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: Marquetry is the use of veneers and inlay to embellish a woodworking project or to create a beautiful image. During today's tighter economic and environmentally conscious times, veneers offer a rich, but inexpensive, option for creating stunning works while preserving precious forests. Veneer is also extremely easy to work with and requires nothing more than a simple scroll or hand-held fret saw. Best of all, working with marquetry is extremely safe and requires no dedicated workshop; a garage, kitchen, or any other small space works fine. "Basic Marquetry and Beyond: Expert Techniques for Crafting Beautiful Images with Veneer and Inlay" is for the enthusiastic woodworker, crafter, or maker who is ready to explore this fascinating process. Featuring more than twenty projects and the expert guidance of two of today's top marquetry experts, Ken Horner and David Pike, "Basic Marquetry and Beyond" provides everything needed to master veneer and inlays while designing pictures and making projects such as boxes, coasters, platters, and bowls truly beautiful and unique. With over 250 photos, full-size patterns, and straight-forward instructions, "Basic Marquetry and Beyond" takes the reader step-by-step through each project rendering what might appear complicated as a very simple task. Most important, "Basic Marquetry and Beyond" makes understanding patterns easy while taking all the guesswork out of the selecting veneers. By the end of "Basic Marquetry and Beyond", any beginner will feel like a seasoned pro while the advanced crowd will now doubt discover new ideas and techniques for their marquetry skill-set. "Basic Marquetry and Beyond" is a must-have reference for all woodworkers, crafters, and makers who want to create original art or inexpensively and beautifully embellish their finished projects.

Critique: A complete course of instruction in a single and profusely illustrated volume, "Basic Marquetry and Beyond: Expert Techniques for Crafting Beautiful Images with Veneer and Inlay" is absolutely 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, making it very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, school wood shop, and academic library Woodworking instructional reference collections.

Methodological Issues and Strategies in Clinical Research
Alan E. Kazdin, editor
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433820915, $59.95, HC, 576pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly updated and expanded fourth edition, "Methodological Issues and Strategies in Clinical Research" byAlan E. Kazdin (John M. Musser Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and director of the Yale Parenting Center, a service for children and families), is an ideal textbook specifically designed to enable students and professionals alike master a wide range of methodological approaches to examining clinical issues and phenomena. The goal is to help the reader design, conduct, recognize, and appreciate high quality research, and recognize the implications of crucial decisions about methodology and design. The informative articles comprising "Methodological Issues and Strategies in Clinical Research" cover a comprehensive array of topics, including experimental design; the principles, procedures, and practices that govern research; assessment of study constructs and their interrelationships; potential sources of artifact and bias, methods of data analysis and interpretation; ethical issues; and the nuts and bolts of writing research articles and getting published. With twenty-six new articles and significantly revised and expanded introductory material, this revamped fourth edition features scholarly contributions that explicate core concepts, survey contemporary issues in research, and examine ethical responsibilities toward both research participants and science itself. New additions include articles on translational and qualitative research, advances in data collection methods such as Amazon s Mechanical Turk service and obtaining client feedback in psychotherapy, advances in mathematical and statistical modeling including single-case interventions, and new chapters examining questionable research practices and fraud.

Critique: Confidently recommended as an academic curriculum textbook, "Methodological Issues and Strategies in Clinical Research" is a critically important addition to college and university Clinical Research instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For academics and students it should be noted that "Methodological Issues and Strategies in Clinical Research" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1433820922, $39.95).

The Typhoon Truce, 1970
Robert F. Curtis
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781612003290, $32.95, HC, 264pp,

Synopsis: It wasn't rockets or artillery that came through the skies one week during the war. It was the horrific force of nature that suddenly put both sides in awe. As an unofficial truce began, questions and emotions battled inside every air crewman's mind as they faced masses of Vietnamese civilians outside their protective base perimeters for the first time. Could we trust them not to shoot? Could they trust us not to drop them off in a detention camp? Truces never last, but life changes a bit for all the people involved while they are happening.

Sometimes wars are suspended and fighting stops for a while. A holiday that both sides recognize might do it, as happened in the Christmas truce during World War I. Weather might do it, too, as it did in Vietnam in October 1970. The "typhoon truce" was just as real, and the war stopped for three days in northern I Corps--that area bordering the demilitarized zone separating South Vietnam from the North. The unofficial "typhoon truce" came because first, Super Typhoon Joan arrived, devastating all the coastal lowlands in I Corps and further up into North Vietnam. Then, less than a week later came Super Typhoon Kate. Kate hit the same area with renewed fury, leaving the entire countryside under water and the people there faced with both war and natural disaster at the same time.

No one but the Americans, the foreign warriors fighting throughout the country, had the resources to help the people who lived in the lowlands, and so they did. For the men who took their helicopters out into the unending rain it really made little difference. Perhaps no one would shoot at them for a while, but the everyday dangers they faced remained, magnified by the low clouds and poor visibility. The crews got just as tired, maybe more so, than on normal missions. None of that really mattered. The aircrews of the 101st Airborne went out to help anyway, because rescuing people was now their mission. In "The Typhoon Truce, 1970: Three Days in Vietnam when Nature Intervened in the War" we see how for a brief period during an otherwise vicious war, saving life took precedence over bloody conflict.

Critique: An extraordinary, unique, informed and informative study, "The Typhoon Truce, 1970: Three Days in Vietnam when Nature Intervened in the War" by Vietnam veteran Robert F. Curtis is a highly valued and strongly recommended contribution to the growing body of Viet Nam War literature. A critically important and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library 20th Century Military History collections in general, and Viet Name War supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for military history buffs that "The Typhoon Truce, 1970" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

God Loves Haiti
Dimitry Elias Leger
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062348135, $24.99, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: A native of Haiti, Dimitry Elias Leger makes his remarkable debut with "God Loves Haiti", an original story of romance, politics, and religion that traces the fates of three lovers in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and the challenges they face readjusting to life after an earthquake devastates their city. Reflecting the chaos of disaster and its aftermath, "God Loves Haiti" switches between time periods and locations, yet always moves closer to solving the driving mystery at its center: Will the artist Natasha Robert reunite with her one true love, the injured Alain Destine, and live happily ever after? "God Loves Haiti" is an homage to a lost time and city, and the people who embody it.

Critique: A thoroughly absorbing and fully engaging read from beginning to end, "God Loves Haiti" clearly establishes Dimitry Elias Leger as an impressively talented novelist who will leave his readers looking eagerly toward his next literary effort. "God Loves Haiti" is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "God Loves Haiti" is also available in a paperback edition (9780062348159, $15.99) and in a Kindle format ($8.99).

Closer to the Edge
Ron Ruthruff
New Hope Publishers
PO Box 830711, Birmingham, AL 35283-0711
9781596694415, $14.99, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: How would the world's perception of Christians, and therefore its perception of Christ, change if our way of doing justice work was as important as the end result? In "Closer to the Edge: Walking with Jesus for the World's Sake" by Ron Ruthruff (an Associate Professor of Theology and Culture for the Seattle School of Theology, Seattle, Washington, and who is also an ordained clergyman providing pastoral care, training, and support for grassroots urban leaders serving youth and families in hard places around the world), explores the heart of what it means to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God in the world (Micah 6:8). The narrative style of this practical resource guides you into deeper biblical reflections. "The way you treat the person you love the least is the way you love God the most," says Professor Ruthruff. In the pages of "Closer to the Edge" Professor Ruthruff offers solid evidence proving how embracing this thesis will radically transform how you interact with the world around you -- and soon you will walk in such a way that you love the world sacrificially.

Critique: An absorbing read from beginning to end, "Closer to the Edge: Walking with Jesus for the World's Sake" is by turns informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring. Very highly recommended for personal, seminary, church, community, and academic library Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for clergy, students, and non-specialist general readers that "Closer to the Edge" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.24).

Julia M. O'Brien
Michael Glazier Books
c/o Liturgical Press
PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814681619, $39.95, HC, 206pp,

Synopsis: In "Micah", Julia M. O'Brien (Paul H. and Grace L. Stern Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania) brings gender studies to bear on Micah's powerful rhetoric, interpreting the book within its ancient and modern contexts. Professor O'Brien traces resonances of Micah's language within the Persian Period community in which the book was composed, evaluating recent study of the period and the dynamics of power reflected in ancient sources. Also sampling the book's reception by diverse readers in various time periods, Professor O'Brien considers the real-life implications of Micah's gender constructs. By bringing the ancient and modern contexts of Micah into view, Professor O'Brien encourages readers to reflect on the significance of Micah's construction of the world. Micah's perspective on sin, salvation, the human condition, and the nature of YHWH affects the way people live -- in part by shaping their own thought and in part by shaping the power structures in which they live. Professor O'Brien's engagement with Micah invites readers to discern in community their own hopes and dreams: What is justice? What should the future look like? What should we hope for?

Critique: The latest volume in the outstanding 'Wisdom Commentary' series from the Liturgical Press, "Micah" is a detailed and exceptionally well written, organized, presented, informed and informative study that will be greatly appreciated by clergy, students, and non-specialist general readers alike. "Micah" is very highly recommended for personal, seminary, church, and academic library Biblical Studies collections.

Confronting Black Jacobins
Gerald Horne
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583675632, $89.00, HC, 416pp,

Synopsis: The Haitian Revolution, the product of the first successful slave revolt, was truly world-historic in its impact. When Haiti declared independence in 1804, the leading powers (France, Great Britain, and Spain) suffered an ignominious defeat and the New World was remade. The island revolution also had a profound impact on Haiti's mainland neighbor, the United States. Inspiring the enslaved and partisans of emancipation while striking terror throughout the Southern slaveocracy, it propelled the fledgling American nation one step closer to civil war over the question of slavery. "Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic" by Gerald Horne (Moores Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Houston) explores the complex and often fraught relationship between the United States and the island of Hispaniola. Giving particular attention to the responses of African Americans, Professor Horne surveys the reaction in the United States to the revolutionary process in the nation that became Haiti, the splitting of the island in 1844, which led to the formation of the Dominican Republic, and the failed attempt by the United States to annex both in the 1870s. Drawing upon a rich collection of archival and other primary source materials, Professor Horne deftly weaves together a disparate array of voices ranging from world leaders and diplomats, to slaveholders and white abolitionists, to the freedom fighters he terms Black Jacobins. Professor Horne at once illuminates the tangled conflicts of the colonial powers, the commercial interests and imperial ambitions of U.S. elites, and the brutality and tenacity of the American slaveholding class, while never losing sight of the freedom struggles of Africans both on the island and on the mainland, which sought the fulfillment of the emancipatory promise of 18th century republicanism.

Critique: A truly informed and informative study of seminal scholarship, "Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic" is an especially well crafted and detailed study that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Haitian History, Caribbean Studies, and 19th Century American History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Confronting Black Jacobins" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583675625, $25.00) and in a Kindle format ($20.82).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Forgotten Victory
Mark Zuehlke
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781771620413, $37.95, HC, 416pp,

Synopsis: During the winter of 1944 - 45, the western Allies desperately sought a strategy that would lead to Germany's quick defeat. After much rancorous debate, the Allied high command decided that First Canadian Army would launch the pivotal offensive to win the war -- an attack against the Rhineland, an area of Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. Winning this land would give them a launching point for crossing the river and driving into Germany's heartland. This was considered the road to victory. For those who fought, the names of battlegrounds such as Moyland Wood and the Hochwald Gap would forever call up memories of uncommon heroism, endurance and tragic sacrifice. Their story is one largely lost to the common national history of World War II. "Forgotten Victory: First Canadian Army and the Cruel Winter of 1944-45" by Mark Zuehlke gives this important legacy back to all Canadians.

Critique: In the pages of "Forgotten Victory: First Canadian Army and the Cruel Winter of 1944-45", author, journalist, and military historian Mark Zuehlke provides an exceptionally well researched and impressively written account of one of the major military campaigns of World War II. Enhanced with the inclusion of five appendices, thirty-eight pages of Notes; a ten page Bibliography, an eleven page General Index; and a six page Index of Formations, Units, and Corps, "Forgotten Victory" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to community and academic library World War II History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Forgotten Victory" is also available in a paperback edition (9781771621052, $27.95).

Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible
Leland Ryken
Crossway Books
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187
9781433542176, $35.00, PB, 576pp,

Synopsis: "Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible" is a comprehensive and systematic volume in which renowned literary expert Leland Ryken introduces readers to the specific themes, patterns, and techniques used by the biblical authors. A companion to Professor Ryken's "A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible" (978-1433541148, $19.99 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 224pp), "Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible" practical guidebook will equip biblical students with the information required to interpret each book of the Bible through the lens of its literary forms and features, thereby helping them faithfully read, understand, and teach the Bible with greater insight.

Critique: A complete course of instruction under one cover, "Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible" is an outstanding contribution to any Biblical Studies curriculum. Very highly recommended for community, seminary, church, and academic library reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible" is also available in a Kindle edition ($23.12).

Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change
Phil Rose
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
The Gatehouse M010C
285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9781611478600, $80.00, HC, 258pp,

Synopsis: It can be arguably considered that all of the arts are subtopics of Communication Studies. "Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change: Pragmatism Not Idealism" unique project has effectively allowed Phil Rose (who is the current president of the Media Ecology Association) to combine his backgrounds in the interdisciplinary fields of popular music studies, cultural theory, communication studies, and the practice of music criticism in the process of investigating the fascinating and important work of the British group Radiohead and focuses particularly on their landmark recording OK Computer (1997), a document preserved as part of the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2015. Probing the band's exploration of the crucial issues surrounding contemporary technological development, especially as it relates to the concern of human survival, "Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change" is essentially a work of criticism that in its analysis combines what is known as 'musical hermeneutics' with the media ecology perspective. In this way, Rose delineates how Radiohead's work operates as a clarion call that directs our attention to the troubling complex of cultural conditions known as 'Technopoly' or 'the surrender of culture to technology', which is a phenomenon that must become more broadly recognized and comprehended in order for it to be successfully confronted. "Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change" offers an edifying analysis of a richly profound and celebrated musical text; provides an extended focus upon what Martin Heidegger famously refers to as 'the question concerning technology'; employs the use of the media ecology scholarly tradition at whose core lies communication study; and utilizes an innovative and unique deployment of the affect-script theory of American personality theorist Silvan Tomkins in the study of musical communication.

Critique: An outstanding work of seminal scholarship, "Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change" is enhanced with the inclusion of a twelve page bibliography of Works Cited; a six page section of Credits and Permissions; and a four page Index. A critically important study, "Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change" is very highly recommended for academic library Music Theory and 20th Century Popular Music History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Radiohead and the Global Movement for Change" is also available in a Kindle edition ($59.99).

A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture and Medicine
Iain Bamforth
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781784100568, $25.99, PB, 328pp,

Synopsis: An abecedarium (or abecedary) is an inscription consisting of the letters of an alphabet, almost always listed in order. Typically, abecedaria (or abecedaries) are practice exercises. "A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture and Medicine" is a pithy abecedarium, in which Iain Bamforth (a former hospital doctor, a general practitioner, a translator, a lecturer in comparative literature, and a public health consultant)takes a close look at the conflict of values embodied in what we call medicine which is never entirely a science and no longer quite the art it used to be. Bamforth brings his wide experience of medicine around the world, from the high-tech American Hospital of Paris to the community health centers of Papua, together with his engaging interest in the stranger manifestations of medical matters in relation to art, literature, and culture (such as the mysterious "Stendhal's Syndrome) which caused 106 tourists in Florence to be hospitalized due to an overload of sublime Renaissance art.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, always informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture and Medicine" is commended to the attention of academic and the non-specialist general reader with an interest the influence of popular culture upon medicine, and that of medicine upon popular culture. Extraordinary and unique in organization and presentation, "A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture and Medicine" is appropriate and recommended for both community and academic library Health & Medicine collections.

Your Best Destiny
Wintley Phipps
Tyndale Momentum
c/o Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496407948, $19.99, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: When you imagine what it would take for your life to be truly great, for you to become your best, most fulfilled self, do you dream of something more than what you have now in terms of more money, or more attention, or more significance? What you may be missing is the one thing that actually gives your life ultimate value, meaning, and purpose. "Your Best Destiny: Becoming the Person You Were Created to Be" helps you find it through a highly insightful personal assessment tool that will reveal eight keys God has placed deep within you to unlock your true character and help you become who you were born to be.
In the pages of "Your Best Destiny", Wintley Phipps (pastor, recording artist, and founder of the U.S. Dream Academy) shares what he has learned (sometimes the hard way) about what it takes to become "the best me I can be".

Critique: Deftly organized and presented in twelve major chapters, ""Your Best Destiny: Becoming the Person You Were Created to Be" is enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, and appendix (Your Best Desinty - A Practical Assessment Tool); and six pages of Notes. As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Your Best Destiny" is especially recommended for personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections and reading lists. It should be noted that "Your Best Destiny" is also available in a paperback edition (9781414390307, $15.99), a Kindle format ($9.99), and in an MP3 CD format (Oasis Audio, 9781613757611, $9.99).

The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant
Bart Casey
Post Hill Press
275 Madison Avenue, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781618687968, $26.00, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: Laurence Oliphant (3 August 1829 - 23 December 1888) lived one of the most remarkable lives of the Victorian era, dedicated to making a real difference for his fellow man -- sometimes in very unconventional ways. At the age of 38, Laurence Oliphant, a successful Victorian writer, diplomat and Member of Parliament gave up his glittering career to join an American cult for a life of hard physical labor and sexual mysticism. Then, in his 50's, Oliphant along with his beautiful wife Alice le Strange spent their final years working to save refugees by establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Critique: An impressively researched and exceptionally well written, organized and presented biography, "The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant: Victorian Pilgrim and Prophet" is an uncommonly informative and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end. "The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library 19th Century British Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should noted that "The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir
Truman Capote, author
David Attie, photographer
The Little Book Room
435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781936941117, $29.95, HC, 112pp,

Synopsis: In 2001, Truman Capote's stylish homage to Brooklyn was brought back into print, but not until 2014 (more than fifty years after they were taken) were the original photographs commissioned to illustrate the essay discovered by the late photographer's son. Also found among the negatives were previously unknown portraits of Capote; none of the photos had ever been published. Now, with the publication of "Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir", complete with the inclusion of the lost photographs of David Attie, the words and images are united for the first time.

Critique: Enhanced for a new generation of appreciative readers with an informed introduction by George Plimpton and an informative afterword by Eli Attie, "Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir" is an inherently fascinating and absorbing read and commended to the attention of Truman Capote fans and academic library collections of Capote's works.

The History Major: A Novella
Michael Phillip Cash
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781518893797, $10.99, PB, 130pp,

Synopsis: After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can't quite put her finger on it. She's sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she's registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Critique: A novella is a work of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. "The History Major" clearly demonstrates author Michael Phillip Cash's complete mastery of the form and format of the novella. An exceptionally well written and highly entertaining read, "The History Major" is confidently recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The History Major" is also available in a Kindle edition ($0.99).

Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns
Anne Gregory
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749468736, $37.50, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Getting a public relations campaign or program off the ground can seem an overwhelming task. But, as with any project, the secret of success lies in good planning and effective management. This fully updated fourth edition of "Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns: A Strategic Approach" by Anne Gregory (Director of the Centre for Public Relations Studies in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Leeds Metropolitan University) provides a revised and more dynamic 12-step planning model to help all practitioners implement and run a campaign. With new coverage of key social media developments and using new case studies, Professor Gregory covers vital topics including: the role of PR in organizations; the importance of context; research and analysis; communication theory; setting objectives; publics and content; strategy and tactics; timescales and resources; evaluation and review.

Critique: Exceptional in its organization and presentation, this newly updated and expanded fourth edition of "Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns: A Strategic Approach" is a complete course of instruction under one cover. Of special note are the chapters on 'Public Relations in Context', 'Timescales and Resources', and 'Knowing What Has Been Achieved: Evaluation and Review'. Throughly 'reader friendly' from beginning to end, ""Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns: A Strategic Approach" will prove to be an invaluable and much appreciated addition to corporate, community, college, and university library Business and Public Relations reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that ""Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns: A Strategic Approach" is also available in a Kindle edition ($35.62).

Hotel Cuba
Brian White
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Parkway #120, Herndon, Virginia 20170
9781620869482, $14.95, PB, 274pp,

Synopsis: Imagine an island off limits for so many years, a forbidden fruit Americans have been deprived of tasting. Then, the gates open. When Don Nightengale, a budding hotelier, husband and father, opened a mysterious sex-fueled cabaret in the catacombs of an ancient slave castle in Cuba, his former life as a suburban Long Island insurance executive ended. Seeking a taste of his carefully crafted masquerade, revelers from around the globe arrived in droves. But Don couldn't have his cake and eat it too. To fulfill his dream of building the world s most spectacular resort, he partnered with men he ordinarily would not have and convinced his wife that this was the road to success and happiness. Instead of maintaining his hotel as a secret gem, he made a decision that some would later say was a deal with the devil. Don offered his guests what he claimed to be a guarantee by God that there would be no consequences for their actions. That guarantee, even God could not deliver.

Critique: An impressively well crafted novel, "Hotel Cuba" is a riveting and entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading list that "Hotel Cuba" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Fortress Europe
Matthew Carr
The New Press
126 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781595586858, $27.95, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: On the militarized Turkish-Greek border, Afghan migrants brave minefields to cross into Europe only to be summarily ejected by Greek border guards. At Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish enclaves in North Africa, migrants are turned back with razor wire and live ammunition. Deportees from the U.K. and France have died of "positional asphyxia" on deportation flights, strapped to chairs, their mouths sealed with tape. In a brilliant and shocking account, "Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent" by journalist Matthew Carr tells the story of how the world's most affluent region (and history's greatest experiment with globalization) has become an immigration war zone, where tens of thousands have died in a human rights crisis that has gone largely unnoticed by the U.S. media. In the pages of "Fortress Europe", Carr brings to life these remarkable human dramas, based on extensive interviews and firsthand reporting from the hot zones of Europe's immigration battles. Speaking with key European policy makers, police, soldiers on the front lines, immigrant rights activists, and an astonishing range of migrants themselves, Carr offers a lucid account both of the broad issues at stake in the crisis and its exorbitant human costs.

Critique: As dramatic as today's television news broadcast accounts of the now more than one million migrants seeking asylum and a better life in Europe from the wars, endemic poverty, religious and racial conflicts of their homelands, "Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent" is as compelling a read as it is informed and informative. Very strongly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "Fortress Europe" is also available in a paperback edition (9781620972229, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Whose Man in Havana?
John W. Graham
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive, N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
9781552388242, $34.95, PB, 328pp,

Synopsis: In "Whose Man in Havana?: Adventures from the Far Side of Diplomacy", John W. Graham (a former Canadian ambassador whose postings in the foreign service and subsequently with international organizations took him to exotic, often uncomfortable, and sometimes remote parts of the world) offers an unconventional, often dark, but more often hilarious view of diplomacy in settings as varied as Haiti, London, the Dominican Republic, the Balkans, Palestine, Paraguay, Guyana, and Kyrgyzstan, including covert monitoring of Soviet military operations in Cuba on behalf of the CIA with the blessing of President Kennedy and Prime Minister Pearson. In a career that spans the Canadian foreign service and international organizations, he was fortunate to be in the right place at interesting, if turbulent, times. Throughout "Whose Man in Havana?" Graham has focused on the lighter side of people and places, but almost everywhere the dark side intrudes. Graham makes plain that the intersection of the two is frequently black comedy.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is insightful and entertaining, "Whose Man in Havana?: Adventures from the Far Side of Diplomacy" is an extraordinary series of personal accounts that is both inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Biography and Political Science collections, as well as the personal reading lists for anyone with an interest in the world of international diplomacy.

HMS Saracen
Douglas Reeman
McBooks Press, Inc.
520 North Meadow Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781590130520, $19.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Malta 1941. To most people HMS Saracen is just an ugly, obsolete ship with an equally ugly recent history: her last commander is due for court-martial after shelling the troops he was sent to protect. But to Captain Richard Chesnaye she brings back memories of the First World War when he and the old monitor went through the Gallipoli campaign together. It seems that captain and ship are both past their best. But as the war enters a new phase, Chesnaye senses the possibility of a fresh, significant role, both for him and for the Saracen.

Critique: As a novelist with more than thirty successful titles to his credit, Douglas Reeman is a master of the genre and "HMS Saracen" continues to demonstrate is exceptional storytelling talents. A thoroughly entertaining and absorbing novel from beginning to end, "HMS Saracen" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to any community library collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "HMS Saracen" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Politics of the Right
Leo Panitch & Greg Albo, editors
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583675748, $29.00, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Today the American political Left faces new challenges from political forces amassing on the radical right. The 52nd volume of the Socialist Register, "The Politics of the Right" presents a serious calibration and a careful political mapping of these forces. It addresses pivotal questions on the reordering of the new right. These essays (very broad in terms of themes and places) speak to the global challenges the new right poses for the left at this historical moment. "The Politics of the Right" directly address such questions as: What is the nature of the right's populism, nationalism and militarism?; What is the social base and organizational strength and range of far right political forces?; To what extent are they influencing mainstream parties and opinion?; How have they penetrated state institutions?; What role do state security services and police forces play?; Does our political situation today require comparison with 1930s Fascism? ; and How should the left respond to defend democratic and human rights?

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and edited by Professor Leo Panitch (Department of Political Science at York University, Toronto, Canada) and Professor Greg Albo (Department of Political Science at York University, Toronto, Canada), "The Politics of the Right: Socialist Register 2016" is comprised of nineteen deftly crafted, informed and informative contributions. The result is a work of seminal scholarship and a very highly recommended addition to academic library Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Politics of the Right: Socialist Register 2016" is also available in a Kindle edition ($25.00).

The Aleppo Code
Terry Brennan
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825443893, $15.99, PB, 384pp,

Synopsis: Will the code reveal history's most powerful weapon for destruction?or humanity's only hope? The living members of Tom Bohannon's band of adventurers gather again in Jerusalem?physically battered, emotionally exhausted, spiritually challenged, and in various stages of shock?to examine a copy of the tenth-century Aleppo Code, the oldest complete text of Jewish scripture. What the clues inside reveal could lead to the reuniting of the Ark of the Covenant with its true source of power, a weapon that could lead to victory for this ragged bunch trying to save the world.

Hunted by the relentless assassins of the Prophet's Guard and caught in the web of an international conspiracy plotting the conquest of Europe, Bohannon's team searches the ruins of Ancient Babylon. Their search lands them amid the chaos that engulfs western Iraq, but they must press on to accomplish one of the most pivotal pieces of end-times prophecy. This intrepid group will uncover secrets that require them to risk everything for their faith, their country, and the peace of all mankind.

Unfolding against the backdrop of an Israeli/U.S. strike against Iran and the planned economic overthrow of the European Union by the sinister, secret head of the international Muslim Brotherhood, "The Aleppo Code" is a heart-pounding race. Brennan takes an epic story on a grand scale and tells it primarily through the eyes of one man who is desperately trying to save the world as he follows God's purpose for his life.

Critique: An impressively well crafted novel from beginning to end, "The Aleppo Code" clearly establishes author Terry Brennan as a master storyteller of a thriller that could well prove to be tomorrow's headline news. An absolutely absorbing read, "The Aleppo Code" is especially recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Aleppo Code" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Rajani Kanth
Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068
9781941861110, $22.95, 262pp,

Synopsis: "Coda" chronicles the life, and after-life, of the last human left alive, in both flashback and future shock, after the apocalypse of the millennium, where timeless, masculinist aggression, and blindness, predictably destroy all life on Earth. "Coda" is a compelling philosophical, and quasi-religious, post-modernist narrative, that (re)solves eventually the Riddle of the Universe: from the unique vantage point of the last sentient being left alive to ponder the question of existence. It is the quest of a latter-day Siddhartha, albeit in context of an apocalyptic world sundered by global catastrophe.

Critique: Rajani Kanth has held affiliations with some of the most prestigious universities in the world. He has also served as an advisor to the United Nations. A novelist, poet, and playwright, Kanth is the author and/or editor of several academic works in political economy and culture-critique. He is presently a visiting fellow at Harvard University, and permanent trustee of the World Peace Congress. "Coda" is a deftly crafted, thoughtful and thought-provoking work of impressively well written fiction that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. "Coda" is especially commended to the attention of science fiction enthusiasts who appreciate deftly crafted post-apocalyptic novels.

Both Sides of the Line
Kevin Kelly
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610881692, $25.00, PB, 270pp,

Synopsis: High school players in a working class neighborhood of the 1970s gain desperately needed structure and guidance from Jack "Clyde" Dempsey, a scrappy, charismatic coach who seems like nothing more than a football geek. But "Coach" also happens to be the toughest guy on the streets of Boston, with a temper to match, and it's his secret life as a mob enforcer and collector that forces him to flee the country, becoming one of America's most wanted. "Both Sides of the Line Football Mentor Who Became a Longtime Target of America's Most Wanted" is the memoir of a devoted Dempsey disciple, who later was to become a dean at a world class private school located outside of Boston, tries thirty-five years later to understand his former coach, role model, and mentor (both his good side and his very dark side) and Dempsey's impact on his own life.

Critique: A true story, "Both Sides of the Line: Football Mentor Who Became a Longtime Target of America's Most Wanted" is one of those unique memoirs that reads like a deftly crafted novel from beginning to end. An absolutely absorbing and inherently fascinating read, "Both Sides of the Line" is very highly recommended personal reading lists, as well as inclusion into both community and academic library American Biography collections.

Daniel Lemin
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610352628, $14.95, PB, 151pp,

Synopsis: "Manipurated: How Business Owners Can Fight Fraudulent Online Ratings and Reviews" is a manifesto for business owners struggling against an online ratings and reviews industry that is holding their businesses hostage through manipulative practices. "Manipurated" uniquely combines an expose of the shifty inner workings of this industry with a step-by-step playbook to empower the 30 million American business owners desperately trying to fight back. In today's hyperconnected world, business owners are confronted with the challenge of managing their online reputation right out of the gate. The first weekend for a new deli, salon, cafe, or boutique store can be make-or-break with online reviews. Few business owners understand that amazing businesses can be permanently damaged with a few bad reviews. Managing a reputation online requires skills and tactics that are not always intuitive to business owners, and is made more difficult by the presence of fraudulent and fake reviews. "Manipurated" gives business owners an insider's view of how the multibillion-dollar ratings and reviews machine systematically stacks the cards against them -- and more important, empowers business owners to fight back with a six-step playbook to defend, control, and enhance their business's online reputation. Both a warning and a call to action, "Manipurated" is a must-read for all business owners who depend on online reviews.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is 'real world' practical and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "Manipurated: How Business Owners Can Fight Fraudulent Online Ratings and Reviews" will prove to be an invaluable instructional reference -- especially for small business owners and novice entrepreneurs. Very highly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Manipurated: How Business Owners Can Fight Fraudulent Online Ratings and Reviews" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.19).

Deadly Dunes
E. Michael Helms
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603813471, $14.95, PB, $2.99 Kindle, 228pp,

Synopsis: Hours after hiring Mac McClellan to investigate the supposed suicide of her archaeologist brother, single-mom Jessie dies in a car accident. Jessie had just showed Mac artifacts and a copy of a map Jake found, items that indicate Hernando de Soto and his explorers might have camped on Five Mile Island during the winter of 1539-1540. Studying the map, Mac determines the site lies in the middle of a planned resort, The Dunes. Declaring the area an historic site could shut the project down. Suspicions aroused, he forges ahead, even though he no longer has a paying client. Everywhere Mac turns, greed abounds, and no one he interviews seems innocent, even Jessie's closest friends the Deckers, who have adopted her teenage daughter. Ron Decker's construction company is building the Dunes, and he is heavily invested in its success. Then there is the oily son and ex-stripper wife of an old curmudgeon who won't sell the one lot the project still needs to acquire. Jake's estranged wife Laurel had plenty to gain from his death, and as Mac continues to dig, he begins to wonder if Jessie herself had more at stake than he was led to believe. No one is happy about Mac's persistence, and someone is unhappy enough to crash his truck and frame him for yet another murder. But Mac isn't giving up, no matter what the cost.

Critique: Another deftly crafted mystery/suspense masterpiece from author E. Michael Helms, "Deadly Dunes" is the third title in his outstanding Mac McClellan Mystery series. Very highly recommended reading action/adventure mystery buffs, "Deadly Dunes" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. Also very highly recommended are the two earlier titles in this superbly written series: "Deadly Catch" (9781616148676, $15.95 PB, $9.59 Kindle) and "Deadly Ruse" (9781616140090, $15.95 PB, $9.59 Kindle, 239pp).

The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook
Anthonto Akkermans
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612434933, $15.95, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: We humans can survive a couple of weeks without food and a few days without water, but in some cases, we would be lucky to survive one night without shelter. With structures ideally suited for any weather condition, "The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Life-Saving Structures for Every Climate and Wilderness Situation" by Anthonto Akkermans presents emergency shelter designs built from a variety of elements, including 100 percent gathered items, a combination of natural and store-bought supplies and even durable construction materials. "The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook" offers helpful tips and techniques for mastering your shelter-building skills, as well as tutorials on how to make basic tools, bedding, mattresses and other items to increase shelter comfort. Packed with easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos, this all-encompassing primer teaches you how to construct a variety of lifesaving shelters, including: Rock Shelter; Debris Hut; Lean-To; Bent Sapling Shelter; Snow Cave; Subterranean Shelter; Scandinavian Lavvu; Ger/Yurt; Basha/Tarp Shelter.

Critique: Anthonio Akkermans has studied wilderness skills from childhood. He established a youth group which allowed children and teenagers to come out into the woods and learn earth-living skills, which evolved into a school called Wild-Live based in the United Kingdom. He has traveled regularly to a number of states in the USA, Yukon territories, Israel and Turkey where he learned more native skills. He still enjoys traveling and regularly teaches primitive skills in the most unique environments and currently lives in Ireland. He draws upon his years of study, experience and expertise to offer "The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook", a deftly crafted, profusely illustrated, step-by-step instructional guide that will prove to be of immense interest and practical value for the outdoor traveler. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Outdoor Survival Skills reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.57).

Michael J. Carson

Chutsky's Bookshelf

Dickey Chapelle Under Fire
John Garofolo
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706
9780870207181, $25.00, HC, 166 pages,

While reverently holding the weighty collection of photographs that comprises John Garofolo's "Dickey Chapelle Under Fire: Photographs by the first American War Correspondent Killed in Action", I innately turned the pages with a delicate hand, partially out of respect for Dicky Chapelle's artistry with a camera, partially out of respect for the sheer guts it took to be present to bear witness to the ravages of wars, but mostly out of the same kind of respect- she herself must of felt for the human condition she was recording.

The photograph on the book cover alone says it all. You can feel the tension of the presence of the enemy lurking right outside the edges of the photo, while a dozen brave soldiers run straight towards it off camera. But then one is forced to realize there is a woman standing behind a lens that caught that moment, while she herself was backing into the thick of that enemy. Dickey Chapelle brought much honor to herself in bringing honor to the men who valiantly took those steps into the face of death.

I felt tears welling up just reading the testimonials to her formidable legacy by her esteemed colleagues, in remembrance of a beautiful woman who broke down gender barriers and gave up her life to show the bits of "life that exist where death hovers."

And yet only a small circle of fellow journalists and publishing colleagues would even know the name Dickey Chapelle. The minute dose of recognition she received during her lifetime pales to the scope and impact of the photographic legacy she left behind. For over two decades she went to war with a camera, from the shores of Iwo Jima during WWII to the jungles of Vietnam in the 1960's - with numerous so called "small" wars in between, embedding herself with military units on the front lines, documenting war's rebels, freedom fighters, nurses and doctors, famine aid workers, and every branch of the American military, though the marines were her favorite fighting force. "They taught me bone-deep the difference between a war correspondent and a girl reporter." And the feeling was mutual, they considered her "one of their own," even going so far as creating a memorial to her.

Though- I think- there still was a piece of the 'heart of the girl' expressed in many of the moments she chose to give homage too, whether it was the shot of a marine playfully dancing about with a group of school girls in Santa Domingo (page 92), or the demystifying photo of Castro in the jungle accompanied by the two most powerful woman in his life-one looking bored/the other making a clown face at the camera (page75).

Yes, she was a woman whose rose up to meet the same challenges a man faces sloshes through war in 1942 but as we have come to appreciate in 2015, each gender inevitably makes their own mark on those challenges, brings "their own game" to the table. Thus showing a woman's view through her photos makes her none the less powerful, only uniquely more-so.

With her snapshots she stopped time, suspended life for a millisecond. But the power of her images does not stop there. One can hear, and see, and feel the scene that was taking place before and continued long after the click of her camera. ( Such as the jovial exchanges I imagine went on between the two soldiers trying to rustle up some grub in a ditch on a makeshift grill made of the innards of a blood shipping case-Iwo Jima -1945-page 22). That's the real teeth and beauty of her work. Static pictures with the power of a living breathing moving memory. And she risked her own life in doing it almost every step of the way.

During her 25 year career as a photojournalist many of Dickey Chapelle's photographs have appeared in renowned publications such as Life, Reader's Digest, The National Observer and the famed National Geographic -whose name alone lends the stamp of approval to her work as being some-of-the-best in the business.

I am disappointed that there are only small snippets of details about her life included in the book. But then, her photographs are the main attraction, laid out in the manner of a one woman gallery showing, moving enough to leave me wanting to see more....and know more about her life. For that there is her autobiography, "What's a Woman Doing Here."

Dickey Chapelle Under Fire- is a moving important legacy to Dickey Chapelle as well as the many men and woman who run head first into harm's way in order to protect those present, left behind, as well as humanity as a whole. For that I believe it should be included in all Library, Historical and Art History Collections as a record of the First American Female Correspondent Killed in Action, her work, and the unsettling history of the time.

I must say it was my honor to write this review-about a book- about a woman whose creative life's work was so passionate and so honorable.

Algerian Diary: Frank Kearns & The "Impossible Assignment" For CBS News
Gerald Davis
West Virginia University Press
West Virginia University
PO Box 6295, Morgantown, WV 26506
9781933202624, $19.99, 189 pages,

The Gerald Davis book -Algerian Diary -provides a wealth of scattered pieces of the puzzle that made up the 1950's French-Algerian War (or Non-War), as well as a look at the state of Television Journalism at that time, before, and beyond.

It highlights the embedded reporter Frank Kearns Diary, (which Davis offers up with immense admiration as a golden cup of journalism), compiled during his challenging first-hand experience living six weeks with the Algerian rebels in the mountains-looking into the eyes of the so called "guerillas" of the Algerian National Liberation Organization as well as the pained soul of the fleeing Arab Immigrants, all in the cause of trying to get "their" side of the story out. (Which may be the reason he lived to tell about it.)

The asides offered up, shine light on the "very different world" of American T.V. Journalism post WWII - accusing it of being overtly used as a powerful arm of propagandist influence for the American Government. Davis also presents an impassioned view of the "dumbing down of the news" in its current evolution.

The oozing glue that holds the book together is a well-meaning tribute by the author to his teacher and mentor journalist Frank Kearns-the "go to guy" at CBS for dangerous assignments, as well the prized cameraman Yousef ("Joe") Masraff that accompanied him on the Algerian journey. One thing is for certain, when it comes to journalism the word "Luck " always pops up in the conversation, and it seemed to play a significant role in Kearns great reporting, as well as the nine lives he possessed (that rolled into 114) in staying alive through it all.

Now to war. There are always two sides. In this one we have the French Government versus the Algerian Nationals. What could be a complicated issue, if you are unfamiliar with the Algerian's fight for independence from France, Kearns' reporting boils down to the view the Algerian Nationalists (90% of whom were Arab Moslems) were being treated like second class citizens in their own country. The French Colonial power had swept in more than 100 years earlier and tried to create a mini-France building up an idyllic land of bucolic rolling farms, creating a European type world run with French ventures. The rub was the Arab Muslim Nationals were not reaping the benefits equal to that of the Frenchmen. And though they had been saying "enough" and presenting thorns in the side of the French Government for most of those hundred years, somehow in the early 1950's they managed to gain enough steam in their resistance to draw some blood from the French Government and it's ex-pat settlers. Possibly the card that strengthened the Algerian Nationalists hand was the defeat of the French in Indochina in '52 and in the Suez region, perpetuating the collapse of the French expansionism in Southeast Asia.

That was the rough and tumble world American foreign correspondent Frank Kearns dropped into, not simply by parachute, but in a slow crawl like an animal through insect infected mountain scrub in order to report the situation first hand. Kearns found himself sleeping on rocks and frigid soil, with meager rations of God- knows- what food and brown water, endlessly ducking air fire from B-26's, essentially risking life and limb traveling without a passport or credentials as an embedded war correspondent when there was no recognition of the existence of such. His diary felt thin-mainly because his efforts- sometimes nine hours a day worth- were plowed into his reporting for CBS. (I would love to see the complete set of words that appeared on those pages.) The other prize represented in the book are some of the original sound on film scripts Kearns typed up on oil skin paper while out in the field, showing he had a Director's command of presenting the stories of the Algerian people's side of the conflict in -as he saw it - in the most effective packaging to obtain the sympathies of an American audience. How far CBS News strayed from that plan is not present in the book but would be fascinating to know.

On the French side-Kearns eyewitness accounts showed the extent of the bloody French "Ratissages"(attacks) conducted against the rebels in the mountains with hoards of American weapons, including B-29 Bombers, as well as the brutal terror waged against the ordinary citizenry- meant to keep them in line-including burning swaths of their valuable cork tree forests, homes and businesses down to the ground. It all caused a mass exodus of those most vulnerable widows, children and the frail elderly- most forced to migrate in rags while barefooted into the hills, or hundreds of miles to neighboring countries such as Tunisia and Morocco.

In contrast-on the Algerian side-Kearns eyewitness accounts showed the strongest most valuable weapon of the Algerian fighter was their belief in their "Just Cause" and the sense of "Unity" they shared with their fellow rebels. In other words, they were fighting with mostly a lot of "Heart" and miniscule amounts of weapons confiscated from the French soldiers or those smuggled in from Egypt. The Algerians had scarce food, scarcer medicines for their wounded, but an unending belief that it was not "if we win the war", but "when we win the war." And most notably Kearns expressed in his diary, they had a naive unending belief that the United States as well as the United Nations would eventually come their aid, sweep in and help free them from the under the thumb of the French. After all-we Americans threw out the British-and as they saw it we are the keepers and most ardent defenders of the "Beacon of Democracy."

Davis also presents a condensed version of Kearns life and his important contributions to CBS news during the rest of their developing years, (a time when the networks actually had bureaus in many foreign countries such as Rome, Paris & Cairo while they were indeed in-a-race to report world events with other news outlets such as NBC, and ABC). Kearns bared witness as a reporter on the ground, in multiple countries, to the last vestiges of disintegrating control a "handful of Empires" still had over their Colonial outposts. His ballsy frontline reporting continued through the seventies marking him as according to Dan Rather, in a tribute on air on the CBS News, "a legend around here."

In response to the contentious debate, brought up in the book, over whether Frank Kearns was working as an operative for the CIA while he was reporting for CBS, was cloudy. I found there was not enough evidence presented in the book to make a judgement either way. But, it was a powerful point to be raised and sadly one that haunted Kearns to his death and his surviving family to the present. Whatever the "truth" of the charges, Kearns got the "truth" out of whatever side of a story he was reporting on.

Davis' Algerian Diary is a worthwhile read which presents a plethora of research that helps build a more complete picture of the French-Algerian War and Frank Kearns vital role in reporting the "Impossible Assignment" for CBS.

The Dancing Delilahs
Pamela Bauer Mueller
Pinata Publishing
9780980916348, $18.95, 307 Pages,

The one tool that is vital in aiding our current and future electorate in making good decisions at the voting booth is an increased knowledge of American History- from the American Revolution to the Civil war (and probably beyond); what took place and how our country has become the noble land it is. The very foundations of our Democracy were formed during those early years.

Precisely in view of that and the awful truth that the subject of American History is not well covered in our public schools, there is much value in a Young Adult Novel that sheds light on a major episode of our history that tested, sculpted and defined our countries backbone- the Civil War.

With that said, Pamela Mueller's book, The Dancing Delilahs, helps shine a light on two lesser known female spies of the Civil War, hailing from opposite sides of the North/South divide. It is written simply with a young female audience in mind, infused with both their emotional response to the plaguing disruptions the war wreaked on their young lives as well as the selfless and rippling efforts they made to help the military of their respective allegiance win the ebb and flow of each skirmish.

Mueller does not tackle the bigger issues of war, namely the debate of who is right or wrong in the issue of slavery, or get into the weeds of each battle, but rather she chronicles the collision of war into two families and two communities, one in the Southern Fairfax County Virginia area, the other in the Louisville Kentucky region. And most notably the constant shifting of the line in the sand of who controlled the frontline of the real estate of both. For the waves of foreign soldiers commandeering properties was a constantly changing tide, literally from week to week. One day you could be feeding and housing the brass of your enemy and the next tending to the wounded of your brethren in your own living room.

The book is set up with alternating chapters following the escapades of both heroines, Antonia Ford from the Confederate South and Pauline Cushman of the Federalist North, written in a first person diary style of passages during two of the most heated and decisive battle years of the Civil War, 1861-1863. For the reader, that format does break the flow of the storyline of their heated circumstances somewhat, but then it does make the point that in many ways their tales are parallel and almost interchangeable; for both the depth of their allegiances drove them to daring lengths, even risking their lives, to uncover and deliver crucial information on the enemies whereabouts in their area or their secret battle plans. Whether it was tidbits that literally fell into their lap through overheard conversations, or detailed plans obtained through more subversive clandestine actions such as a flirtatious encounters set-up purposefully to obtain said secrets, their harvest was passed onto elite military of such powerful ilk as General Beauregard, General "Stonewall" Jackson, General Lee, and the elusive Mosby's Rangers.

Both woman also paid the heavy price of painful stints of imprisonment, but each managed to make use of soliciting the endearments of male officers to help them survive any un-pleasantries, enabling them to live to tell the tales of their valiant efforts.

Antonia, most notable shared in the penchant of the southern woman, with their self-less efforts in tending to the not only the wounded of their beloved grey-coats but of the northern enemy soldiers being housed in their area as well. The author lathered on a generous helping of the civility, in dialogue and deed, the Southerners maintained in dealing with their occupiers. Especially in the face of the constant pressure exerted on them to "take the oath" by signing a pledge to the Union of the United States, which went against the marrow of their loyalties to the secessionist movement. Though in the end pragmatism won out and they succumbed to signing in the cause of their own safety.

Pauline, played a more calculated role. Impressively she managed to pass herself off as a traitor to the north, the whole plan orchestrated by Federalist officials, while moving amongst the southern loyalists, which she could have received an academy award for. In the end she was bestowed the honorary title of Army "Major" supported by President Lincoln himself which proves the importance of her activities.

Both heroines made use of their attractive feminine qualities in aiding their cause and a good majority of the book is relegated to the love lives of the two extremely charming woman. Matters of the heart seemed to crisscross the dividing lines drawn between the North and South, maybe proving the power of humanism can win out over the strength of our ideological differences.

The fact that the book is based on the true story of these two female Civil War spies gives it credence and value in opening the young adult audience to the unique and valued role women played in our countries history. It certainly has set me off on doing more research on the subject.

Karen Chutsky

Clint's Bookshelf

Confessions of an Illuminati, Volume 1
Leo Lyon Zagami
Consortium of Collective Consciousness Publishing
c/o Independent Publishers Group (dist.)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781888729580 $17.95 pbk / $7.52 Kindle

Synopsis: Author Leo Lyon Zagami uses the Illuminati's internal documents and reveals confidential and top-secret events. His book contends that the presence of numerous Illuminati brotherhoods and secret societies - just as those inside the most prestigious U.S. universities such as Yale or Harvard - have always been guides to the occult. From the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO)'s infiltration of Freemasonry to the real Priory of Sion, this book exposes the hidden structure of the New World Order and the occult practices of the various groups involved with it, including their connections to the intelligence community and the infamous Ur-Lodges.

Critique: A scattering of black-and-white photographs illustrates this astonishing glimpse into the power structures and occult practices of notorious secret societies, including their connections to metaphysical pioneer Aleister Crowley, hostile extraterrestrial lifeforms, the intelligence community, and more. But how can ordinary people take a stand against vested interests of money and power? Knowledge is the first step, and even the most skeptical browser will find Confessions of an Illuminati modus operandi expose enlightening!

The Vampire, The Handler, and Me
Eileen Sheehan
Earth Wise Books
9780692589311 $14.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In a romantic triangle of good and bad, it's hard to tell who's good and who's bad. Lizzy Ewing is caught in a romantic triangle between two enemies: the handsome vampire, Nevi, and the hunky handler, Geoffrey. A handler herself, Lizzy must choose between Nevi and Geoffrey. One wants her for all the right reasons, one does not. Will she discover who is who before the bad destroys the good?

Critique: An edgy, fantastic romance, The Vampire, The Handler, and Me keeps the reader guessing about both living and undead intentions! The darkly seductive, tongue-in-cheek writing style coyly entices complete immersion in a setting that blurs the lines of morality, sensuality, and mortality. Highly recommended!

Before the Court of Heaven
Jack Mayer
Long Trail Press
9780984111343, $19.95, PB, 524pp,

Synopsis: "Before the Court of Heaven" by Jack Mayer is a work of historical fiction which is based on the true story of Ernst Techow, a young fascist assassin responsible for the 1922 murder of the highest-ranking Jew in Weimar Germany -- the German Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau. Rathenau's mother's letter, read at Ernst's trial, offers her forgiveness if he confesses his guilt and repents before the court of heaven. Her letter becomes the fulcrum of Ernst's redemption. A literary portrayal of Germany from the beginning of the 20th Century to the beginning of World War II, "Before the Court of Heaven" is both a thriller and a tender love story of Ernst and Lisa.

Critique: A fully engaging read from beginning to end, "Before the Court of Heaven" is a deftly crafted novel that showcases author Jack Mayer's truly impressive storytelling talents as a novelist. A terrifically entertaining read that is enhanced with close attention to historical detail, "Before the Court of Heaven" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

The Vaccination Debate
Chris Spinelli & Maryann Karinch
New Horizon Press
PO Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
9780882825052, $15.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Chris Spinelli is a practicing Osteopathic Physician since 1999. He has served 24 years in the military, with 14 of those years involved in patient care. A Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, he currently works with the underserved community of children in his local area and teaches as an associate professor at the Uniformed School of Health Sciences. Maryann Karinch is the founder of The Rudy Agency, a literary agency specializing in non-fiction. She has also co-authored three books with physicians and written extensively about health and medicine. In "The Vaccination Debate: Making the Right Choice for You and Your Children", Spinelli and Karinch collaborate in taking a rational approach to discussing the science of vaccines in the context of everyday life. As Spinelli and Karinch examine the schedule of vaccines from birth through adolescence, they shed new light on this timely and controversial issue, writing with a tone that a pediatrician would use with curious, concerned parents. Many parents and health care professionals believe vaccines to be one of the best public health practices ever instituted on a widespread basis. Yet the anti-vaccine movement has increasingly become one of hesitation and fear. Which is the right choice to make for your children? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Critique: Very highly recommended for community library Health & Medicine collections, "The Vaccination Debate" is a useful and appreciated contribution to such parental decision making responsibilities. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Vaccination Debate" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Naturally Healing Autism
Karen Thomas
Pylorus Publishing
9780996236317 $27.99 pbk
9780996236300 $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The definition of "recovery" is to regain health. If you feel that your child's physical and mental heath could improve, then this book is for you. Drug-free recovery is possible. In this step-by-step guide, you will master the three steps that are crucial to recover from autism. In healing your child's body, you will also improve abilities such as learning, social adaptability, and self control. Here are the three stages you will learn to heal you child from autism:

Stage 1: Repairing the gut; Supporting the liver; Testing for and treating pathogenic microbes; The gut healing diet, supplements, and proper nutrition.

Stage 2: Heavy metal detoxification; Natural clathration.

Stage 3: Brain repair and support; Natural brain repairing; Natural brain balancing supplementation; Brain scan and volume assessment options.

Critique: An excerpt from the disclaimer at the beginning warns, "You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems, disease, or illness without consulting your own physician. The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the statements regarding the products and services in this book." With caveats such as this firmly in mind, Naturally Healing Autism is a valuable reference and resource. Chapters describe common food additives that can be especially deleterious to the gut or the brain of autistic children, and offer recommendations for a wholesome, nutritious diet that fosters wellness. Nautrally Healing Autism is not a magic cure-all; it does not and cannot guarantee that autism will "go away". Naturally Healing Autism also has a very negative view of vaccines, although it does not expressly prohibit vaccination. (It does neglect to inform readers of the fact that the wildly contagious diseases that vaccines prevent kill hundreds of thousands of people annually; for examples, the World Health Organization estimates that measles killed 158,000 people worldwide in the year 2011). The recommendations for ensuring the children are not exposed to perilous, brain-destroying toxins such as lead or mercury deserve to be read by parents everywhere.

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

The First Hostage: A J. B. Collins Novel
Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496406156, $26.00,

Joel C. Rosenberg sets the mood and tone of his explosive new release, "The First Hostage" with the chilling statement, "The president of the United missing." Even though everyone thought he had boarded Air Force One and cleared Jordanian air space with a "fighter escort."

Foreign correspondent J.B. Collins had seen Secret Service agent's race from the palace grounds in a bulletproof vehicle when he fired the MP5 thrust into his hands. The "short bursts" of fire power more a distraction than cover, allowed the King and Sa'id time to lift the severely wounded Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the Palestinian Authority into the back of the bulletproof SUV with wounds that made Collins injuries appear insignificant.

The acrid smell of thick, black smoke and blood assaulted Collins nostrils as he jumped into the bulletproof Suburban. Through the window he saw the mangled bodies of soldiers, police and black-hood jihadists strewn across the "smoking crater" where Jordan's state-of-the-art international airport terminal had once stood. The successful ISIS attack had been deadly and brought the signing of the historic peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians to an abrupt end. Thus, "The Third Target," (review) book one in Rosenberg's J. B. Collins series ends.

The action packed pace of "The First Hostage" picks up seconds later with Collins trying to convince the foreign editor of the New York Times that "U.S. and Jordanian security forces were presently engaged in a massive search-and-rescue effort to find the president." Unable to name the source for the breaking news the editor refused to print the story.

Add a U.S. constitutional crisis, a treasonous mole, ISIS, Secret Service, FBI, CIA and Mossad agents, chemical weapons and more and you have a compelling and complicated political thriller that includes an edge-of-your seat climax impossible to put down.

The plot and characterizations are from a New York Times bestselling author intimate with world events, who is known for crafting stories that soon become breaking news stories. Last summer Rosenberg and his family immigrated to make Aliyah in the land of Israel and currently enjoy dual citizenship in the United States and Israel. "

The First Hostage, " adrenaline-laced tale of international intrigue, religious fanaticism and End-Time prophecies impossible to put down" is destined to become a mega bestseller.

Randy Alcorn
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414389349, $24.99,

After countless hours and three years of research, Happiness by bestselling author and noted theologian Randy Alcorn, hit bookstore shelves in the fall of 2015 and today is ranked #91 in popularity in's "Religion and Spirituality" section. Up until now, I thought Alcorn typically wrote on spiritual themes and wondered if happiness could be defined in a spiritual way. He does that and more in his lengthy 480 page read that asks, "Why aren't we [Christian's] a happier" bunch?

During his research Randy was frequently asked about the topic of his new book and he would simply say, "Happiness." "Unbelievers," he writes, were "immediately interested" while Christians, accustomed to his more spiritual themes would say, although "you said happiness - didn't you mean joy."

That scenario was repeated when a close pastor friend heard about Randy's topic. His friend thought the subject was a "big mistake" because he thought many believed the word "happiness" described moods and emotions, while the word "joy [describes] a spiritual peace and contentment that only comes from God."

Randy disagrees with that concept and believes the Christian community in recent times has set a "dangerous and ungrounded precedent" with that view. He writes, "happiness's "common meaning provides a bridge between the church and world - one we can't afford to burn." Still, he knows "many readers have been taught to think the same way as his pastor friend" and that's what prompted his decision to write this book.

He defines happiness as a "more consistent heartfelt gladness and delight in Christ," not a "health and wealth" prosperity teaching, positive thinking or self-gratification philosophy. Although

the terms happiness and joy share a close relationship he doesn't believe they are "synonymous" terms. The Bible, "depending on the translation uses happy or happiness about 30 times, while joy and rejoice appears over 300 times."

Happiness is divided into four parts and while it is not an easy read due to extensive quotes, scripture references, historical resources and word studies, it is a comprehensive and exhaustive study on the word happiness. And the well-designed four-part index equips the reader to focus on specific areas of interest.

Part one concerns "Our Compelling Quest for Happiness." Part two focuses on "The Happiness of God" and God's concern for our happiness. Part three uses a textbook style to examine "The Bible's Actual Words for Happiness." While part four, "Understanding and Experiencing Happiness in God" looks at habits and different ways to achieve a "Christ-centered" life. The overall theme of "Happiness" is "God not only wants us to be happy but commands and empowers us to be happy in him!"

Randy's thorough and exhaustive writing on the word happiness is best summed up with this quote found on page 263. "It's needless, distracting, and misleading to make fine distinctions between joy, happiness, gladness, merriment, and delight. They all speak of a heart experiencing the goodness of God and his countless gifts."

If you would like a much shorter read on happiness, consider Randy Alcorn's October 2015 release, "God's Promise of Happiness" consisting of 92 pages.

The Disappearance: The Celia Kelly Mystery Series #4
CN Bring
Bad Day Books
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9781628279917, $15.95,

"The Disappearance", book four of CN Bring's exciting Celia Kelly series follows Tom and Celia's separate action-packed accounts until the story merges into with an ending no one can see coming. Yet I shouldn't have been surprised after reviewing "The Pact" Bring's first book in the series, when I found her to be a rare new talent who writes unpredictable mystery suspense, with characters and plot lines that demand to be read in one sitting.

In "The Disappearance" Celia is assigned an overseas mission to find and rescue the deputy director of the CIA who happens to be General Turner's son. It also means a separation from her husband Tom, now an NCIS Special cold case Agent "looking into Lieutenant Commander Georgia Round's" murder.

The story opens with a homeless man, "soaked to the bone" after one of Washington D.C.'s" longest wet spells. When he "notices a fire in a barrel" under the Potomac Park walking bridge he moves quickly, grateful to find a place to "warm up and stop shivering from the plummeting, wind-chilled temperatures."

Minutes later, rubbing his hands briskly together above the flames, he basks in the warmth and wonders why he's the only one there. He knows there are many like himself, homeless, cold, wet and miserable on the Washington, D.C. streets. Yet the area is dark and deserted except for him and the flickering flames.

His shivers calmed with the warmth and he examined the barrel from his vantage point above the flames. That's when he saw the bony fingers of a "skeletal hand" in the flickering flames below. He stepped back and saw what looked like pieces of a "Navy uniform" melted onto the side of the barrel. Shocked he stumbled backward and fell, "catching himself with his hands." Only to find his right hand resting on a military "ID badge" with the name, "Lieutenant Commander Georgie Round, US Naval Internal Affairs" engraved on it.

Thus begins a compelling and complex military murder mystery with more questions than answers until the final pages are turned and Celia and Tom's parallel storylines merge into one. The result is an action-packed story of imposters, moles and treason involving the FBI, the CIA and naval intelligence that keeps pages turning rapidly with a story that can be read as a series or as a stand-alone title.

Prayer and the characters dependence on God is a realistic thread that weaves through the faith-based mystery without being intrusive or preachy. While the SEAL teams quips and funny stories add a light touch of humor, often in extreme circumstances.

CN Bring's character-driven military suspense, "The Disappearance" is penned by an author of multiple awards. From ABA's Literary Excellence for Mystery/Suspense, to International Books and the Wise Bear Books for military mystery. In addition to being known as one of Amazon's bestseller's of Christian Mystery Suspense and Christian Collections and Anthologies. Bring is not a writer to miss, especially for anyone who likes the NCIS style television series.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Once A Rancher
Linda Lael Miller
HQN Books
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373789771, $26.99, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: Slater Carson, the oldest brother, might be a filmmaker by trade, but he's still a cowboy at heart -- and he knows the value of a hard day's work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder's guardian is the gorgeous new Mustang Creek resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can't hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well. Grace Emery doesn't have time for romance. Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband's rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can't afford. But when an unexpected threat emerges, she'll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most -- and that love is always worth fighting for.

Critique: Another deftly crafted western romance by a true master of the genre, "Once A Rancher" by Linda Lael Miller continues to showcase this author's truly impressive storytelling talents. A riveting read from beginning to end, "Once A Rancher" is a very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Romance Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Once A Rancher" is also available in a mass market paperback edition (9780373779680, $7.99), and in a Kindle format ($6.49).

Infrared Photography
Laurie Klein
Amherst Media, Inc.
175 Rano Street, Suite 200, Buffalo, NY 14207-2176
9781608959259, $37.95, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: In infrared photography, the film or image sensor used is sensitive to infrared light. The part of the spectrum used is referred to as near-infrared to distinguish it from far-infrared, which is the domain of thermal imaging. Wavelengths used for photography range from about 700 nm to about 900 nm. Infrared photographs have a mystical feel. Before the dawn of digital capture, infrared light waves, which are invisible to the naked eye, could only be captured using specialized films that required precise handling and a level of technical proficiency that most photographers lacked. In "Infrared Photography: Artistic Techniques for Brilliant Images" Laurie and Kyle Klein present a brief history of infrared, then move on to discuss all of the nitty-gritty technical information you'll need to understand how those invisible wavelengths will be recorded in your camera and the steps you'll need to take to ensure the best-possible resulting photographs. "Infrared Photography" provide a plethora of sample images that show you how various materials ranging from skin, hair, and eyes, to environmental subjects like the sky, trees, grasses, and clouds, will appear in your images. "Infrared Photography" also teaches how to pre-visualize the final image; predict the way that the colors and tones you perceive with your naked eyes will be rendered in-camera; how to effectively frame your subjects and scenes to draw the viewer's gaze into and through the frame in a predictable manner, and keeping the viewer visually engaged. Also covered are the basic theories of infrared capture and image design deftly handled and further artistic applications; how to add selective color to your black & white infrared images and how to create color infrared images that take infrared capture to a whole new level; and basic image-editing strategies that will allow finessing the tones and contrast in images.

Critique: Enhanced with the profuse inclusion of images, ""Infrared Photography: Artistic Techniques for Brilliant Images" is an impressively well written, organized, and presented course of do-it-yourself instruction that is thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Photography reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in infrared photography that this outstanding instruction manual is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

Visual Supports for People with Autism
Marlene J. Cohen & Peter F. Gerhardt
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Road, Bethesda, MD 20817
9781606132159, $24.95, PB, 225pp,

Synopsis: Visual supports (which are any pictorial, graphic, or scheduling aid) are excellent tools for teaching academic, daily living, and self-help skills to people with autism. The collaborative effort of Marlene Cohen (Department Chair for ABA Online for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with over 35 years of experience working with individuals with autism and other disabilities) and Peter Gerhardt (who has over 30 years experience utilizing ABA principles with adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings), "Visual Supports for People With Autism: A Guide for Parents and Professionals" is a thoroughly reader-friendly and practical instruction manual that shows teachers, parents, and service providers how to make low-tech visual supports, and offers strategies for using them.

Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Visual Supports for People with Autism" includes information about using visual supports with the youngest children, advice on fading supports, and updated photo examples of: activity schedules, calendars, charts, checklists & to-do lists, color coding, flip books, graphic organizers, mnemonics, name tags, photo boards, Power Cards, scripts, Social Stories, and video modeling. Of special note is the new chapter covering high-tech options for visual supports (iPads, smartphones, etc.), as well as how to choose appropriate ones with particular features that are good for people with autism.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a ten page bibliography of References & Recommended Reading; an eight page Resource Guide; a twenty page Appendix (The Technology Advantage); and a sixteen page Index, "Visual Supports for People with Autism:: A Guide for Parents and Professionals" is very highly recommended and will prove enduringly valued by anyone charged with teaching or training autistic teens or adults in basic life skills - and more!

Feeling Loved
Jeanne Segal
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781941631478, $16.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Do your connections with friends, family, or romantic partners leave you feeling empty? "Feeling Loved: The Science of Nurturing Meaningful Connections and Building Lasting Happiness" by Jeanne Segal (co-founder of, a nonprofit self-help website that serves more than 70 million visitors annually with encouraging, practical information on mental health, relationship and family issues) reframes the way we think, feel, and act, and provides a blueprint for attracting nurturing and fulfilling love. "Feeling Loved" explores what we unwittingly do that hijacks our ability to feel loved and goes on to offer powerful researched-based tools to transform your relationships and emotional health. "Feeling Loved" shows how to identify the challenges that keep you from experiencing love and making others feel loved; use proven techniques to quickly reduce stress and regulate out-of-control emotions; and transform your relationships with everyone in your life.

Critique: Enhanced with illustrative and inspiring real life stories, "Feeling Loved" is thoroughly absorbing and exceptionally well written from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Feeling Loved" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

When the Devil's Idle
Leta Serafim
Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603819985, $13.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island's fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder -- the gardener and housekeeper, the victim's son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family's many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder?

Critique: "When the Devil's Idle" is the second volume in author Leta Serafim's 'Greek Islands Mystery' series. A deftly crafted and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "When the Devil's Idle" is a compelling and very highly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "When the Devil's Idle" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.95). Also very highly recommended is the first volume in this outstanding series "The Devil Takes Half" (9781603819657, $14.95 PB, $4.95 Kindle, 256pp). Appreciative readers will all be looking eagerly toward author Leta Serafim's next title in her 'Greek Island Mystery' series.

A Rock Fell on the Moon
Alicia Priest
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781550176728, $32.95, HC, 264pp,

Synopsis: In its heyday in the 1950s and '60s, the remote community of Elsa, 300 miles north of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, was the epicentre of one of the world's most lucrative silver mining operations--an enterprise that far surpassed the riches produced during the iconic Klondike gold rush. For twelve of those years, Gerald Priest was the chief assayer for United Keno Hill Mines (UKHM), the major player in the region. Priest was a clever man who could as easily carry the role of refined gentleman as he could rustic mountain man. As far as ten-year-old Alicia Priest was concerned, her father Gerry's life in Elsa was perfect: a home rich with music, books and pets where he never had to boil a kettle or wash a sock; a well paying job; a beautiful and affectionate wife; and two daughters who revered him as only little girls can. But as Alicia grows older, she realizes that perhaps her dad saw things differently, with four female dependents, an ailing wife who couldn't give him the son he wanted, a religiously fanatical mother-in-law and a tedious, dead-end job.

Escape becomes possible when Gerry stakes the Moon Claims and discovers a phenomenal silver-rich boulder -- enough silver to make him and his family rich and fund their relocation south. But when Gerry tries to smelt and sell the ore, UKHM calls the RCMP. Too many things don't add up: geologists find the former assayer's boulder story improbable, the manpower required to hand-mine and transport seventy tons of rock across the Yukon terrain is beyond Herculean and most suspiciously, Gerry's ore looks a lot like the ore found in UKHM's Elsa mine.

In "A Rock Fell on the Moon", Alicia Priest consults letters, news stories, archived RCMP files and court documents, and interviews with former mine employees, litigators and police investigators, to piece together the full story of her father's infamous heist. The result is a lively, heartrending account of a mysterious crime that came extraordinarily close to succeeding; a fascinating look into the small mining communities that once thrived in the Yukon; and the personal story of the Priest family, who could only watch aghast as the life they knew crumbled around them. As she uncovers more of the story, Alicia must reconcile two different versions of her father: the fun-loving, bush-savvy adventurer who raised her, and the man accused and convicted of the Great Yukon Silver Ore Heist.

Critique: The late Alicia Priest (1953-2015) was a journalist with more than twenty-five years of newspaper, radio, magazine and report-writing experience. "A Rock Fell on the Moon: Dad and the Great Yukon Silver Ore Heist" is her lasting literary legacy and a detailed, informed and informative account that is an absolutely absorbing read from beginning to end. "A Rock Fell on the Moon" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Rock Fell on the Moon" is also available in a paperback edition (Lost Moose, 9781550177336, $24.95) and in a Kindle format ($22.99).

The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific Wars
Caroline Norma
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781472512475, $120.00, HC, 264pp,

Synopsis: The Japanese military was responsible for the sexual enslavement of thousands of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific during the China and Pacific wars under the guise of providing 'comfort' for battle-weary troops. Campaigns for justice and reparations for 'comfort women' since the early 1990s have highlighted the magnitude of the human rights crimes committed against Korean, Chinese and other Asian women by Japanese soldiers after they invaded the Chinese mainland in 1937. These campaigns, however, say little about the origins of the system or its initial victims. "The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific Wars" by Caroline Norma (a Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia) explores the origins of the Japanese military's system of sexual slavery and illustrates how Japanese women were its initial victims.

Critique: It has only been within the last couple of years that the Japanese government would acknowledge the sexual enslavement of women as a military policy during World War II. Now they have finally made a formal apology to those abused women and agreed to financial reparations. "The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific Wars" documents in considerable detail that horrific aspect of the Japanese war in Asia. An outstanding work of detailed and seminal scholarship, "The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific Wars" is enhanced with the inclusion of thirty-five pages of Notes; a sixteen page Bibliography; and a twenty-six page Index. Very strongly recommended for academic library World War II History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for both academia and the non-specialist reader with an interest in this issue that "The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific Wars" is also available in a Kindle edition ($75.59).

The Ice Cream Blonde
Michelle Morgan
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613730386, $26.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: A beloved film comedienne who worked alongside the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and dozens of others, Thelma Todd was a rare Golden Age star who successfully crossed over from silent films to talkies. "The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd" is an authoritative new biography that traces Todd's life from a vivacious little girl who tried to assuage her parents' grief over her brother's death, to an aspiring teacher turned reluctant beauty queen, to an outspoken movie starlet and restaurateur.

Increasingly disenchanted with Hollywood, in 1934 Todd opened Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe, a hot spot that attracted fans, tourists, and celebrities. Despite success in film and business, privately the beautiful actress was having a difficult year - receiving disturbing threats from a stranger known as the Ace and having her home ransacked - when she was found dead in a garage near her cafe. An inquest concluded that her death, at age just twenty-nine, was accidental, but in a thorough new investigation that draws on interviews, photographs, documents, and extortion notes - much of these not previously available to the public - Michelle Morgan offers a compelling new theory, suggesting the sequence of events on the night of her death and arguing what many people have long suspected: that Thelma was murdered. -- But by whom?

The suspects include Thelma's movie-director lover, her would-be-gangster ex-husband, and the thugs who were pressuring her to install gaming tables in her popular cafe - including a new, never-before-named mobster. This fresh examination on the eightieth anniversary of the star's death is sure to interest any fan of Thelma Todd, of Hollywood's Golden Age, or of gripping real-life murder mysteries.

Critique: A truly exceptional and impressively researched biography that reads as smoothly as any riveting suspense novel, "The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Ice Cream Blonde" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.74).

Weaving a Malawi Sunrise
Roberta Laurie
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9781772120868, $39.95, PB, 432pp,

Synopsis: The women of Malawi, like many other women in developing countries, struggle to find their way out of poverty and build a better life for themselves and their families. Girls who receive an education feel empowered. They gain employment opportunities; are respected within their communities; and are able to make their own choices. Without education, women are often forced into early marriage and lives of extreme hardship. "Weaving a Malawi Sunrise: A Woman, A School, A People" tells the story of Memory Chazeza's quest to get that education and build a school for girls. Roberta Laurie masterfully combines personal narratives with scholarly analyses of social and economic development issues. She captures, with ease, the voice of Malawian girls. Readers interested in Africa, global affairs, women's studies, development, and international education will give high marks to "Weaving a Malawi Sunrise".

Critique: An impressive and informative study, "Weaving a Malawi Sunrise: A Woman, A School, A People" by Roberta Laurie (an Instructor in the Bachelor of Communcations Studies Program, MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada) is a very highly recommended for academic library Contemporary African Studies reference collections in general, and Malawi Social Issues supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Weaving a Malawi Sunrise" is also handily available in a Kindle edition ($31.99).

The Aha! Factor
Mariana M. Cooper
Watkins Media Limited
9781780288925, $14.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Do you keep asking, but feel your prayers are going unanswered or taking an extremely long time to come to fruition? Can you trust your gut feeling to guide you, when so far you've failed to manifest many of your goals? Answers to our prayers can be closer to us than we could imagine. When Mariana Cooper hit up against the frustrations and heartbreak of dashed dreams, loss of loved ones and the complications that real life brings, she set out on a quest to learn the language in which we actually receive the answers to our desires. What she discovered is the Energetic Communication System that delivers the answers to our prayers. It's what she calls the Aha! Factor. In the pages of "The Aha! Factor: How to Use Your Intuition to Get What You Desire and Deserve", Cooper shows how to access your Aha! Factor to receive and interpret the answers to your prayers and intentions; what an Aha! Moment actually is and how to have more of them throughout your day to help you to make decisions that you can believe in; lists the 101 Signs, Symbols and Synchronicities that show when a message is coming to you and what it means; reveals how to easily incorporate your Aha! Factor into all aspects of your life, including money, love and other relationships, body, work, handling toxic people and situations and bringing your biggest dreams and goals to fruition much more quickly than you could ever do with logic alone. When you are fully aware of your Aha! Factor and how to use it, you can finally interpret the answers that are always being sent your way - and anything is possible!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Aha! Factor: How to Use Your Intuition to Get What You Desire and Deserve" is as inspired and inspiring as it is informative and insightful. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in comment and content, "The Aha! Factor" is very highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Personal Spirituality collections. It should be noted that "The Aha! Factor" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Raising the Barre
Lauren Kessler
Lifelong Books / Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780738218311, $24.99, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: When Lauren Kessler was twelve, her ballet instructor crushed not just her dreams of being a ballerina but also her youthful self-assurance. Now, many decades and three children later, Kessler embarks on a journey to join a professional company to perform in The Nutcracker. "Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker" is more than just one woman's story; it is a story about shaking things up, taking risks and ignoring good sense, and forgetting how old you are and how you're "supposed" to act. It's about testing limits and raising the bar(re) on your own life.

Critique: An inherently compelling and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker" is especially recommended to the attention of anyone who has every been discouraged by others from pursuing their heart's dream to the best of their abilities. As inspired and inspiring as it is informative and entertaining, "Raising the Barre" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to any community library collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Raising the Barre" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.99) and in an MP3 CD format (Tantor Audio, 9781494563547, $24.99).

Hair and Justice
Carmen M. Cusack
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398090951, $39.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Hair and Justice: Sociolegal Significance of Hair in Criminal Justice, Constitutional Law, and Public Policy" by Carmen M. Cusack (who is also the editor of Journal of Law and Social Deviance) discusses criminal acts, deviance, rebellion, and power in contexts demonstrating that hair is an intricate and important issue and piece of evidence in criminal justice, constitutional law, and public policy. "Hair and Justice" demonstrates that the significance of hair in society is relative, in flux, and constantly being debated. "Hair and Justice" argues that members of a culture and society share perceptions about hair that may be misunderstood or judged by outsiders and authorities. "Hair and Justice" presents dozens of cases in which eyewitnesses have described perpetrators' and defendants' hair. However, eyewitness testimony is often unreliable and the value given to it may conflict with or further shape the extent to which society will tolerate misunderstandings or misperceptions about hair. Major sections include: religion; evidence; institutions; head shaving; gangs; animals; authority and power; crimes; Fourth Amendment; regulation, codes, and licenses; politics; and education.

Critique: Deftly organized into twelve major sections (Religion; Institutions; Evidence; Head Shaving; Gangs; Animals; Authority and Power; Crimes; Fourth Amendment; Regulatons, codes, and Licenses; Politics; Education) each of which includes an informed and informative introduction, "Hair and Justice" will prove to be a significant contribution to the Judicial Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists of academia and students alike. "Hair and Justice" is especially recommended for college and university sociology, law, law enforcement, psychology, gang studies, criminal justice, criminology, social science, public administration collections.

Julie Summers

Kevin's Bookshelf

The Return of the Ancient Ones
Gary Caplan
BookSurge Publishing
5341 Dorchester Road, Suite 16, North Charleston SC 29418-5618
9781439272831, $12.99,

"Whatever most captures your mind controls your life." - Kare Anderson

In author Gary Caplan's book 'The Return of the Ancient Ones' we return back to the land of Illumaril. It has become an area that resembles an extended battleground with various forces and foes battling each other to reign supreme. It's also a land that is awaiting its destined leader Gideon to employ the Sword of Order and vanquish the dark forces known as Thatos and his army. Gideon and his gang get unexpected help from an enemy group called the Darkspawn after they are betrayed by Thatos. An under threat Illumaril's future rests on the skills of one man.

The Return of the Ancient Ones (hereafter referred to as TROTAO) is a complex story involving multiple important heroic characters and numerous soldiers fighting on the side of both good and evil. Connoisseurs of topical popular culture will immediately make a connection between the storyline of TROTAO and that of Star Wars. But here's where it one-ups the latter; this thought itself might be blasphemous to some, but if someone had wondered what would happen if full-on magic were introduced to the Star Wars empire - TROTAO would be the answer. The narrative introduces telepathy, spell-weaving, skyships, powerful crystals, swords, beasts & demons to an action packed story that's full of combat and the revelation of the purpose behind the main hero's life.

Staying true to the genre, the narrative is highly descriptive and builds up the land of Illumaril and its various inhabitants vividly in your mind. In fact Mr. Caplan must be appreciated for utilizing his imagination to the hilt and coming up with such diverse characters and then arming them with unique powers and accompaniments like special swords and amulets. You also get to experience the story from different perspectives as the author tells the story from multiple characters' point of view.

The novel gives equal weightage to both characters and story. The character of Gideon coming to grips with his destiny and forming an alliance to take on a much powerful enemy is explored nicely. And the plot moves along steadily leading to a big and expected clash at the end where the identity of the victor won't leave anyone surprised. The characters, be it Draeborn, Almaren, Gil, Bernord and Gideon's other friends grow and develop as the plot moves along. These characters appear honest because they aren't afraid to portray fear & doubt. And it's their honor, courage and camaraderie that make them heroic.

There's not a lot here that you could underscore as bad, especially if you're into this genre. But for some, the sheer number of names of geographical locations, Knights, Lords and demons might be overwhelming; as might the battle scenes that run the risk of being slightly repetitive.

In the end, the action in TROTAO keeps the story moving forward at a consistent pace and provides for an engrossing read. The novel has won the Indie excellence award for fantasy.

The Phoenix Rising
Gary Caplan
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595499724, $16.95,

"If you will not die for us, you cannot ask us to die for you." - Jacqueline Carey

Author Gary Caplan's novel 'The Phoenix Rising' is set in a futuristic time period hundreds of years from now. Planet Earth and the various nations as we know today are history and in their place are space faring civilizations, doing what all great civilizations do best - explorations and combating for supremacy. Alliance of Worlds is a huge group in space, made-up of more than 250 civilizations engaged in space explorations for resources and defending their vast assets against enemy infiltrations and misadventures. And there's no dearth of it as groups like the Varlons and the Accadians harbors dreams of space dominance. Recently promoted Commodore Robert Allen Sheppard has his task cut out while manning the Phoenix ship and going into battle against such enemy forces.

It is as much a story about the main character's journey as it is about a civilization's journey to expand and also protect itself from enemy incursions. Often, the various thought processes and actions undertaken by the space civilizations and their leaders will remind you of the actions and decisions taken by various nations and their leaders here on Earth. The description of the space combat scenes, especially the strategies and tactics used by the opposing and defending forces will lights up the battle scenes in your mind. But it's not just mindless action that fills these pages, as the book also delves into the actions taken by the political and military leadership and fills the narrative with political intrigue.

Robert Allen Sheppard has many attractive qualities in him that makes him a great leader. He is smart and is a brilliant tactician, but he is also a compassionate individual who is well aware of his own mortality. His interactions with his crew members also reveal a lot about the character.

The quality of a book can generally be judged by the words in it, in addition to its story. It's not just what you say, but how you say it that matters. Taking off from this 'The Phoenix Rising' can be judged in two distinct ways. Firstly, it handles the theme of space battles and culture quite well. The detailing in this fully imagined world and the description of it manages to paint a lively picture in the minds of the reader. But alternatively it's the same point that gives the novel a feel of an overwritten work. Fantasy/Military fiction genre books are generally more descriptive than others but you still feel this story could have been narrated more succinctly.

The setting and the characters have enough in them to warrant a sequel adventure story or even a prequel explaining how they all got here in the first place. If the writing can shrug off the extra weight it displays here then it can become a good adventure series.

Despite the numerous intricate and technical descriptions 'The Phoenix Rising' by and large is an entertaining read. That is if you are willing to overlook a few glitches here and there and are not expecting a life altering novel here. The plot, the setting, the characterization, and the writing all have a simple objective and that is to provide you with mindless entertainment and in that respect the book succeeds.

The Page
Gordon Osmond
Wordzworth Publishing
9781783240364, $10.00

"You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it." - Malcolm X

Gordon Osmond's novella 'The Page' is a satirical and yet sincere take on the families and businesses affected by the misuse of the Environmental Protection Agencies' policies. Candy and Jim Lovett run a successful fashion apparels manufacturing business. But they lose all their money when the powers at Washington D.C. propel a new law, making business houses liable to clean up polluted sites near them. That's when Cameron, Candy and Jim's only son decides to enlist himself as a page to the senator directly responsible for this misstep.

"Gordon takes a real subject like the EPA's Superfund and concocts a political farce that's endearing, cleverly plotted, and leaves a lasting impression..."

If you have read a Gordon Osmond fiction before in your life then you know how good he is at creating life-like scenarios where his characters indulge in reckless and ludicrous behavior. And in 'The Page' while the similarity to life-like scenes are plenty with matching emotions to boot, his characters are more mellowed down. The story in 'The Page' is precisely plotted like a three act play. The introduction of the characters and the obstacle in their lives form the first segment while in the second part, the protagonist finds a repurpose in his life and finally, a climax that will leave you pleasantly shocked.

His depiction of the people holding the higher offices of government and their work culture is all done tongue in cheek. But it isn't an out an out satire where the storyline and the characters become wackier by the minute; you will feel an emotional connect with the characters and their story. There's plenty of self deprecation too, Gordon isn't content being a distant figure who pokes fun at everybody else; at times he breaks open the fourth wall and ridicules himself as well.

"Gordon is a linguist's delight, a master wordsmith, and a grammar Nazi all rolled into one; his books are a total delight to read irrespective of the route the narrative takes."

Gordon's characters usually are master conversationalists; they spew witty phrases and clever arguments at will. Here also this sort of verbal boxing between the characters can be seen. Candy and Jim Lovett are like the pin-up representation of what a happy, successful American family should look like. Even their descent into bad times and their reaction to it has a stereotypical feel to it. But then again, aren't most stereotypes only an exaggerated representation of the reality around us?

Cameron or Cam is this young slick fellow with a talented con man like ability to think on his feet. But he's still immature when it comes to confronting heavy emotions and that's where the guidance and affection of Candy and Luana comes in. Luana Rosas is the intelligent, knowledgeable woman, who is aggressive by nature. And the sexual tension between Cam and her makes for good reading even though they have only a few scenes together.

'The Page' is an entertaining short read that is bound to stir your ethical & moral compass as well.

"The author's ability to put a smile on your face & induce a LOL moment when you're least expecting makes 'The Page' an absolute must read."

Seasons of Pain
Imowen Lodestone
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781515156468, $11.99,

"The charm of horror only tempts the strong" - Jean Lorrain

Author Imowen Lodestone's novel 'Seasons of Pain' explores the world of supernatural and dark powers. It narrates the tale of Jesse, someone who appears to the world as just another woman coping with school, a menial job and a draining relationship. But she holds a secret that only few people are privy to. She is an exiled witch running away from her true identity. But when the war waged by witches, warlocks & psychics reach her doorstep, she inadvertently gets intertwined in the mess. And along with a kindred soul she finally acknowledges and accepts her true destiny.

The narration in 'Seasons of Pain' switches back and forth between the first person narrative of the two characters - Jesse and Adalious. This plot device gives the novel an edgy feel and makes the storyline sound more complex than it really is. And the Adalious and Jesse tracks have their own distinct style and feel to it. The only time the first person narrative feels weak is when a character goes into an impromptu history lesson in the middle of a scene; making the entire scene seem contrived. The narrative does take its own time to get off the tracks, as there are a lot of explanations and insights into the history and issues between the various factions of the supernatural world. There's actually a lot going on in the book and one feels that the back stories could have been streamlined better or introduced in measured form in the subsequent books.

The start of the novel including the opening scene itself begins in a rather cliched and stereotypical manner, but then on out and thankfully, it breaks all conventions and shatters every possible preconceived notion you might have had about the plot. The author also tries to show that personal greed, malfeasance and politics rules the roost in the supernatural world just like it does in the mortal world. The novel that does a good job in scaring you is also a raunchy, hot & fun read that delves deep into the friendships, love and family affairs of the supernatural world.

The dialogue writing deserves special mention; for being acutely aware of the irony in it and embracing it wholeheartedly. This kind of offhanded humor can be found throughout the book. Bordering on self deprecation at times, the narrative has the awareness and more importantly the willingness to remind the reader that at the end of the day it's just a fictional story.

The characters aren't portrayed as simple one dimensional being and the complexities in their character are explored to an extent by hinting at their tumultuous past. Jesse and Adalious are similar in that both of them have a troubled past and have great difficulty in adjusting to their present reality. Jesse and Adalious are also able to suss each other out from their very first meeting. And even though they have contrasting personalities, they have great chemistry together and keeps the reader engaged at all times.

There's a sequence in the book involving Jesse in an abandoned house; the description of it takes the cake in concocting a macabre-ish, nightmare of elm street on steroids horror sequence; it's easily the best written scene that I have come across in recent horror books. There's plenty of blood, gore, and violence involving supernatural beings and hybrid monsters committing unspeakable acts of terror, it's definitely not for the weak of stomach.

Shrugging off the early displayed lethargy, the narrative soon becomes taut, chilling, and extremely effective in creating the horror mood. All in all, 'Seasons of Pain' is a hi-octane, horror-action novel which establishes a good set of characters and a solid setting for the subsequent books in the series.

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

Linda's Bookshelf

Tiger Heart
Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
9780757318580, $15.95,

The lengthy subtitle of "Tiger Heart": "My unexpected adventures to make a difference in Darjeeling, and what I learned about fate, fortitude, and finding family...half a world away" succinctly sums up this enthralling slender work of non-fiction. The book is part memoir and travelogue as well as a powerful testament to the ability of an individual to impact and make a positive difference in the lives of others. Katrell Christie founded the nonprofit organization The Learning Tea Initiation after impulsively joining a Rotary Club sponsored trip to India in 2009 designed to help village women in Hyderabad create and market handicrafts to help support their families. While there, the plight of three teenage orphan girls in the West Bengal region of Darjeeling moved her to make a startling commitment to help them secure a university education. It was a swift decision that would become as life-altering for Katrell as it would be for the young women. The policy of their orphanage, the home which had supplied all their basic needs and schooling, was to cast the girls out on the streets at age 17. No safety net was provided. A grim future of menial labor, begging or prostitution was the reality most orphans faced when they aged out of the system.

The author is not a wealthy philanthropist seeking a new cause to support but a rather larger-than-life Atlanta, Georgia small tea shop owner of modest means whose whim has turned into a life's passion. This resilient, determined woman is a former roller derby competitor who skated under the name Takillya Sunrise. Katrell's understanding of poverty was gained firsthand having spent part of her childhood living in government housing projects. She held a variety of jobs before opening her neighborhood tea shop "Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party" made successful by the long hours she spent baking, cleaning and tending customers as well as her considerable charm. She describes herself as being blond with "big hair, a big butt, and big boobs". Clearly a big heart is the defining part of the equation. Tip jar money, sales of packaged Darjeeling tea and proceeds from monthly vegetarian Indian feasts held at her tea shop have funded her mission to provide housing, an education and medical care for the initial three young orphan scholars. The Learning Tea initiative has helped eleven young women to-date who have become part of the author's extended family. It's a modest venture certainly and deeply personal. "Tiger Heart" co-authored with award winning journalist and editor Shannon McCaffrey both celebrates the difference an individual can make in the world as well as describes the pitfalls and failures on the journey. The book illustrated with vivid color photos is moving, inspiring and frequently humorous as it recounts Katrell's travel adventures and illuminates the sights and sounds of an India off the typical tourist's tracks. It was a fascinating book. For readers who wish to learn more, the website link is Katrell Christie continues to help orphaned young women one cup of tea at a time.

Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway
Eve Golden
University Press of Kentucky
663 Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508
9780813121536, $40.00, Hardcover, 304 pages,

"Anna Held and the birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway" is a riveting account of the golden age of music revues during the heyday of Vaudeville and the petite dynamo with an hourglass figure and flirtatious eyes who was one of the brightest stars prior to World War I. If Anna Held were alive today, she would surely have her own reality show and would provide rich fodder for the tabloids with her moxie and superlative talent for self-promotion. The world has long remembered and lauded Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. for his "Follies" on Broadway but memory has not been as kind to his first wife and inspiration Anna Held. In her heyday, she was every bit as glamorous and world acclaimed as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cher, Barbra or any other fabulous star. Her best and most loyal friend was "the most beautiful girl in the world" actress Lillian Russell. Miss Held was a chameleon who obscured and changed biographical data and left few accurate traces of her origins as the daughter of a German Jewish glove maker born in Warsaw, not Paris, in a year ranging from 1865 to 1873. Her legendary status as a performer and glamorous, trend-setting celebrated luminary has faded to obscurity. Tiny in stature, though buxom, she made it a practice to be surrounded by towering and more strikingly beautiful showgirls. She wore exquisite designer couture clothing and was draped in jewelry valued at over $100,000 in 1900 dollars. (Purchasing power of $3500 at the beginning of the 20th century is roughly equivalent to a current value of $100,000 making her collection worth a king's ransom in excess of three million dollars.)

Anna Held was a heroine of World War I who left her Broadway career to return to her beloved France to entertain the entrenched troops on the frontline and to deliver medical supplies. She returned before war's end to die in New York on August 12, 1918.

With the exception of an insipid portrayal of Anna Held by Luise Rainer in the 1936 MGM "The Great Ziegfeld" as a timid mouse who discouraged Ziegfeld from launching his Follies, little evidence remains of her dynamic energy and box office appeal. Unfortunately she died before movie making fully matured and is relegated to a few glimpses in a couple of silent shorts. Contrary to that films assertions, Anna prompted and supported Ziegfeld to create his extravaganzas modeled loosely after the Parisian revues she had headlined. The biopic focused more on second wife Billie Burke, the iconic Glinda, Good Witch of the North who inherited Ziegfeld's debts upon his passing.

Reconstructing a more accurate vision of Anna Held without living contemporaries would have been a daunting task for a lesser biographer than the dedicated Eve Golden. She scoured family records, global archives, and newspaper accounts to enable her to present a lively biography of this charismatic yet elusive star performer. The biography also includes photographs of the subject. The author shares her fascination and meticulous research of remarkable bygone luminaries of theater and film in additional works of nonfiction on subjects including John Gilbert, Jean Harlow, Theda Bara, and Vernon and Irene Castle among others.

Ziegfeld Follies were staged annually from 1907-1931 and again in 1934 and 1936 may never have been produced without the encouragement and some early financial support from Anna Held. The University Press of Kentucky published "Anna Held and the birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway" is essential reading material for anyone interested in musical theatre and the legacy of the Great White Way.

Mommy Goose
Mike Norris & Minnie Adkins
University Press of Kentucky
663 Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508
9780813166148, $19.95, 48 pages,

"Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountain" debuted in early January, 2016, too late for the holiday rush. It seems destined to become a timeless classic with humor and charm galore, age appropriate for everyone from toddlers up. Writer Mike Norris and carvings illustrator Minnie Adkins' work will appeal to anyone with a sense of whimsy as do the works of the ingenious Sandra Boynton. The rhymes derive from an oral tradition of recitation from memory with alterations and variations by the speaker. They lend themselves to being sung by the reader for greater appreciation of the cadence and colorful verse. This children's book exemplifies the best of regional Appalachian folk heritage. It contains sheet music for an original song, "Tell Me, Mommy Goose."

Eastern Kentucky native Norris is a retired Centre College Director of Communications whose previous books include "Sonny the Monkey" and "Bright Blue Rooster Down on the Farm", both of which are also illustrated by noted folk artist Minnie Adkins. He has written songs and stories since childhood, recorded five albums of original music and had compositions recorded by several musicians. Renowned carver Adkins has works in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution among other museums and is a recipient of the Kentucky Arts Council's Artist Award for lifetime achievement in the arts.

The clever wordplay and bright illustrations are sheer delights with images of rascally raccoons eating up corn, blowing car horns, quack physicians and chess pie eating dogs. Stir up a batch of cornbread, simmer some soup beans and settle in a rocker with a favorite child to get maximum enjoyment from this celebration of folk wit and wisdom.

Crane: Sex, Celebrity and My Father's Unsolved Murder
Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer
University Press of Kentucky
663 Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508
9780813160740, $29.95, 352 pages,

"Crane: Sex, Celebrity and My Father's Unsolved Murder" is an enthralling, courageous book; at times deeply poignant written with intelligence, humor and fiercely forthright candor. This University Press of Kentucky publication is a densely layered unique combination of autobiography, biography and true crime mystery. Robert David Crane is the eldest son of the late actor Robert Edward "Bob" Crane best known for his portrayal of the affable Colonel Hogan in the popular long-running series "Hogan's Heroes" (1965-1971), an unlikely sitcom about a German POW camp. The handsome former disc jockey concealed a dark secret: a penchant for videotaping himself and others in homemade porn and was dead at 49, bludgeoned and strangled in a hotel room in Scottsdale, Arizona. The 1978 murder has never officially been solved. Robert was tasked with identifying his father's body and steadfastly continued the investigation of the murder.

The author examines his father's life and occupation and his own fascinating career with grace and honesty but sans bitterness. He does so without dwelling on personal tragedies or self-victimizing in the face of loss of inheritance and the early death of his first wife. Unlike some notorious children of celebrities, the author has lived his life fully without scandal or stints in rehab. The younger Crane is a well-respected writer and journalist who's multiple "Playboy" interviews included subjects as diverse as Koko the Gorilla, Joan Rivers, and John Candy who became a cherished friend and for whom he would work for six years, first as a part-time publicist, later full-time assistant, promoter, producer and screenwriter.

Best friends since meeting in the seventh grade at Gaspar De Portola Junior High School in Tarzana, California, co-authors Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer are eminently qualified to write about the tragic events. While at USC Film School, they formed a successful company that was the first to market college affinity license plate frames. Their first book collaboration "Jack Nicholson: Face to Face" (1975), republished by UPK in 2012 as "Jack Nicholson: The Early Years", remains the only biography of the star to be written with his permission and based on in-depth personal interviews. They have also co-written "Bruce Dern: A Memoir", "My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insiders Journey Through Hollywood" and contributed to "Hal Ashby: Interviews". "Crane: Sex, Celebrity and My Father's Unsolved Murder" is a memorable work of nonfiction. It serves to reconcile the reality of growing up in a stable, loving two parent household in quiet, suburban Southern California after the shocking death of his celebrity father. Sadly, the actor's reputation was tarnished when the seamy sordid details of his hidden private life were publicized in the media.

On a personal note, fifty years ago, my husband was a classmate acquaintance of the "the good guys" Crane and Fryer for the first two years of junior high before moving east with his family. The three men enjoyed reminiscing at the Frankfort (Kentucky) Book Fair in November. John brought his "El Capitan" yearbooks to their panel discussion and they continued their conversation throughout the afternoon at the book signing. Bob confirmed it was the most difficult book to write and we can attest is well worth reading.

Linda Hitchcock, Reviewer
Member National Book Critics Circle

Logan's Bookshelf

Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain's Age of Print
Joshua King
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814212936, $86.95, HC, 368pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain's Age of Print", Joshua King (Associate Professor and Margarett Root Brown Chair in Robert Browning and Victorian Studies at Baylor University) demonstrates how nineteenth-century Britons turned to the printed page to imagine themselves in Christian communities spanning their nation. In contrast with traditional views of the nineteenth century, which regard the period as a turning point for religion from a public life to a privatized decline, "Imagined Spiritual Communities" argues that the rapid growth of print culture and a voluntary religious market inspired vigorous efforts to form virtual national congregations of readers. Focusing primarily on the work of Anglicans between the 1820s and 1890s, "Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain's Age of Print" begins by freshly interpreting reading and educational programs promoted by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Frederick Denison Maurice, and Matthew Arnold. Professor King then traces the emergence of John Keble's Christian Year as a catalyst for competing visions of a Christian nation united by private reading. He argues that this phenomenon illuminates the structure and reception of best-selling poetic cycles as diverse as Alfred Tennyson's In Memoriam and Christina Rossetti's late Verses. Ultimately, "Imagined Spiritual Communities" reveals how dreams of print-mediated spiritual communion generated new poetic genres and rhetorical strategies, theories and theologies of media and reading, and ambitious schemes of education and church reform.

Critique: A seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain's Age of Print" is an informed and informative work that is enhanced with the inclusion of a thoughtful Introduction (Religion, Reading, and Imagining Nineteenth-Century Britain), an enlightening Conclusion (The end of Print-Mediated Christian Britain and the Rise of Digital Spiritual Communities), a twenty-page Bibliography, and a forty-five page Index. Richly detailed, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain's Age of Print" is very highly recommended for academic library 20th Century British Cultural History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain's Age of Print" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.95) and in a Multimedia CD format ($14.95).

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

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

Critique: A riveting suspense thriller of a novel from beginning to end, "Once Shadows Fall" clearly marks author Robert Daniels as a master of the genre. A gripping read and highly recommended for ally mystery/suspense enthusiasts, "Once Shadows Fall" is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Once Shadows Fall" is also available in a paperback edition (9781629534848, $14.99) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).

My Father's Son
Andy Symonds
Mascot Publishing
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781631770418, $19.95, HC, 316pp,

Synopsis: When Nathan's father, a decorated Navy SEAL, is killed in combat, he must rely on his father's teammates for direction while learning to become a man. The normal struggles of adolescence are amplified while growing up in the shadow of a war hero, and a young man's future hangs in the balance. No one is safe from the scars of war.

Critique: "My Father's Son" is a deeply moving novel laced with humor and poignancy from beginning to end. Author Andy Symonds has an entertaining knack for original storytelling. "My Father's Son" is a compelling read and very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "My Father's Son" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.95).

A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut
Rabbi Pinchas Cohen
Maggid / Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd.
c/o Toby Press
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776-8531
9781592644346, $17.95, HC,

Synopsis: "A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut" is a concise and useful work on hilkhot kashrut that is specially crafted for the modern Jewish home. "A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut" covers a range of frequently-asked questions, such as: Can one use a dishwasher for both milk and meat dishes? What is glatt kosher? Is one required to immerse electrical appliances? Can one eat a pie that contains vegetables that have not been checked for insects? Can one eat cottage cheese with alla that was baked in a meat oven? "A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut" starts with the basics and then moves on to advanced topics. It offers comprehensive instructions for those setting out to make a kosher kitchen, and serves as a valuable reference for those already familiar with kashrut but uncertain about its more complex details. Novice and expert alike will benefit from the Rabbi Pinchas Cohen's clear and reliable presentation of this important area of halakha, a defining element of the Jewish home.

Critique: Rabbi Pinchas Cohen is a Ram at Yeshivat Har Etzion, teaching Gemara and halakha to overseas students. He has rabbinical ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, holds a ba in Business Management and Psychology from the University of South Africa, and a B.Ed. from Herzog College in Israel. Impressively well written, of immense value for all members of the Jewish community, and exceptionally accessible for the non-specialist general reader, "A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut" by Rabbi Cohen is very highly recommended for personal, family, synagogue, community, and academic library Judaic Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Geoffrey Hope Gibson
Modern History Press
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615992706, $21.95, PB, 254pp,

Synopsis: At the beginning of the twentieth century, the son of an English lord settles in Australia and marries an indigenous woman. It is an age when interracial relationships are not only misunderstood, but result in family conflict, disgrace, and disinheritance. Then the Christian missionaries come. They destroy the timeless culture and beliefs of Australia's indigenous people, leaving them to flounder in a soup of the white man's religious beliefs. The great-grandmother's telling of the family story is the nourishment that holds it together through war, and the constant battle to adjust and exist in a white man's world. The Christian missionaries will not tolerate any belief or view other than their own. Amid all this religious and racial conflict, the great-grandchildren adjust and eventually prosper. The young man distinguishes himself in the conflict in Vietnam, while his sister finds her place and flourishes in the food and catering industry. "Matriarch" takes readers on an eye-opening journey through Australian history, culminating in a serial murder mystery that opens old family wounds.

Critique: Impressively well written, "Matriarch" is a deftly crafted novel that documents author Geoffrey Hope Gibson as an extraordinarily talented storyteller. A riveting read from beginning to end, "Matriarch" is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Matriarch" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.95).

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea
Jonathan Franklin
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781501116292, $26.00, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: On November 17, 2012, a pair of fishermen left the coast of Mexico for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific. That night, a violent storm ambushed them as they were fishing eighty miles offshore. As gale force winds and ten-foot waves pummeled their small, open boat from all sides and nearly capsized them, captain Salvador Alvarenga and his crew mate cut away a two-mile-long fishing line and began a desperate dash through crashing waves as they sought the safety of port.

Fourteen months later, on January 30, 2014, Alvarenga, now a hairy, wild-bearded and half-mad castaway, washed ashore on a nearly deserted island on the far side of the Pacific. He could barely speak and was unable to walk. He claimed to have drifted from Mexico, a journey of some seven thousand miles.

"438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea" is the first-ever account of one of the most amazing survival stories in modern times. Based on dozens of hours of exclusive interviews with Alvarenga, his colleagues, search-and-rescue officials, the remote islanders who found him, and the medical team that saved his life, "438 Days" is an unforgettable study of the resilience, will, ingenuity and determination required for one man to survive more than a year lost and adrift at sea.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read, "438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea" is the stuff of legend. A true life action/adventure story that is a riveting account from beginning to end, "438 Days" is very highly recommended as certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "438 Days" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Reform or Repression
Chad Pearson
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247763, $55.00, HC, 328pp,

Synopsis: Historians have characterized the open-shop movement of the early twentieth century as a cynical attempt by business to undercut the labor movement by twisting the American ideals of independence and self-sufficiency to their own ends. The precursors to today's right-to-work movement, advocates of the open shop in the Progressive Era argued that honest workers should have the right to choose whether or not to join a union free from all pressure. At the same time, business owners systematically prevented unionization in their workplaces.

While most scholars portray union opponents as knee-jerk conservatives, In "Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement", Chad Pearson (Professor of History at Collin College, Collin County, Texas) demonstrates that many open-shop proponents identified themselves as progressive reformers and benevolent guardians of America's economic and political institutions. By exploring the ways in which employers and their allies in journalism, law, politics, and religion drew attention to the reformist, rather than repressive, character of the open-shop movement, "Reform or Repression" forces us to consider the origins, character, and limitations of this movement in new ways. "Reform or Repression" describes class tensions, noting that open-shop campaigns primarily benefitted management and the nation's most economically privileged members at the expense of ordinary people.

"Reform or Repression" critically analyses archives, trade journals, newspapers, speeches, and other primary sources to elucidate the mentalities of his subjects and their times, rediscovering forgotten leaders and offering fresh perspectives on well-known figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis, Booker T. Washington and George Creel. "Reform or Repression" sheds light on businessmen who viewed strong urban-based employers' and citizens' associations, weak unions, and managerial benevolence as the key to their own, as well as the nation's, progress and prosperity.

Critique: An impressively detailed and researched work of seminal scholarship, "Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement" is enhanced with the inclusion of sixty-two pages of Notes and a twenty-seven page Index. Of special note is Professor Pearson's introduction 'Reformers and Fighters: Employers and the Labor Problem'. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Reform or Repression" is an important and highly recommended addition to academic library American Labor History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Syren's Song
Claude Berube
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612519159, $28.95, HC, 240pp,

"Syren's Song" is the second novel by Claude Berube featuring Connor Stark, and it promises to be just as engaging as "The Aden Effect", the debut novel in this outstanding series. "Syren's Song" is a geopolitical thriller that begins when the Sri Lankan navy is unexpectedly attacked by a resurgent and separatist Tamil Tiger organization. The government issues a letter of marque to former U.S. Navy officer Connor Stark, now the head of the private security company Highland Maritime Defense. Stark and his eclectic compatriots accept the challenge only to learn that the Sea Tigers who crippled the Sri Lankan navy are no ordinary terrorists.

Critique: Impressively well written from first page to last, "Syren's Song" is a compelling and entertaining novel that will hold the reader's rapt attention with it's deftly construction action that never let's up until the climatic conclusion. A solid entertainment and the kind of novel that block buster action/adventure movies are made from, "Syren's Song" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Syren's Song" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.63).

Let's Have Another
Dan Coughlin
Gray & Company, Publishers
1588 East 40th Street, Cleveland, OH 44103
9781938441813, $15.95, PB, $9.99 Kindle, 220pp,

Synopsis: "Let's Have Another" third batch of humorous stories in an outstanding series from Cleveland sports journalist Dan Coughlin and includes a nutty team owner who nearly killed his franchise (and some spectators), an adventurous Browns lineman who survived a gunshot wound, an Indians slugger with the worst attitude in baseball, a brilliant tennis promoter who "stole" the Davis Cup, and others.

Critique: A terrifically entertaining read, "Let's Have Another" is an easy and absorbing read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended reading for sports enthusiasts. Also highly recommended are Dan Coughlin's first two titles in his series: "Crazy, With the Papers to Prove It: Stories About the Most Unusual, Eccentric and Outlandish People I've Known in 45 Years as a Sports Journalist" ( 9781598510683, $15.95, PB, 272pp) and "Pass the Nuts: More Stories About The Most Unusual, Eccentric & Outlandish People I've Known in Four Decades as a Sports Journalist" (978-1598510737, $15.95, PB, 262pp).

Pocket Jung
Daryl Sharp
Inner City Books
53 Alvin Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4T 2A8, Canada
9781894574457, $25.00, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: In "Pocket Jung: Pithy Excerpts from the Work of C. G. Jung, with Informed Commentaries by Daryl Sharp", the author reverts to his earlier love of explicating Jung's essays, interweaving Logos and my own whimsical Eros commentaries. Some passages may be familiar to readers, like a loved painting with a few added brush-strokes here and there.

"Pocket Jung" is specifically written for the general reader who may not be acquainted with Jung's own writings, many of which, intended for the specialist, are not easily understood by those who lack the technical knowledge that would enable them to appreciate the value and significance of Jung's researches. Such knowledge is particularly necessary for an understanding of the alchemical research that occupied so much of his time and energy during the last twenty years of his life.

"Pocket Jung" is not an exhaustive resume of Jung's approach to psychic reality, but rather a setting forth some of the basic ideas on which his school of psychology rests.

Critique: An impressively well written, organized and presented introduction to the thought and work of Carl Jung, "Pocket Jung: Pithy Excerpts from the Work of C. G. Jung, with Informed Commentaries by Daryl Sharp" is highly commended to the attention of academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Jungian psychology and analysis. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Pocket Jung: Pithy Excerpts from the Work of C. G. Jung, with Informed Commentaries by Daryl Sharp" should be a part of every community and academic library Psychology/Psychiatry reference collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that it is also available in an ebook edition.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

My Coloring Journal: Live, Laugh, Love
Samantha Snyder
aka Associates
9780997102109, $7.95, PB, 126pp,

Synopsis: "My Coloring Journal: Live, Laugh, Love" is comprised of 60 beautiful doodle art images of inspiring sayings and words drawn from the pages of "A New Day", "Believe", and "Dream Big", to "Life's a Journey", "Live Your Dream", and "Work Hard". Also included are beautiful doodle themes of flowers, shapes, and stars as well as pages to create your own doodles, record things you are thankful for, and list your favorite things. The journal is designed so that you begin and finish each and every entry with plenty of enjoyment, inspiration, and relaxation.

Critique: Offering hours of pleasant past time activities for adults of all ages, "My Coloring Journal: Live, Laugh, Love" is the ninth volume in the outstanding 'Doodle Art Alley Books' adult coloring books series from Samantha Snyder and aka Associates. Also very highly recommended from this same wonderfully entertaining series is the "2016 Coloring Quote Calendar" (9780983918271, $7.95, PB, 56pp).

The Lie and the Lady
Kate Noble
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476749396, $7.99, PB,

Synopsis: Following "The Game and the Governess" comes "The Lie and the Lady", which is the second novel in the witty, sexy 'Winner Takes All' series of Regency romances from Kate Noble. Clerk John Turner thought only of winning a bet when he switched places with his friend, Lord Edward Granville, at a country house party. But while posing as a lord, he fell for a lady who is the Countess Letitia! Now she's learned the truth, and he must win her back as plain John Turner. He'd better hope that love truly conquers all. Lady Letty was publicly humiliated when it came out that she had fallen for the man, not the master. When she meets him again, she's determined to avoid him, but some things are too intoxicating to be denied. Letty knows what choice she must make to survive, but if she turns her back on her dashing rogue, again, will she lose her chance at love forever?

Critique: Still another terrifically entertaining Regence Romance by a true master of the genre, "The Lie and the Lady" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "The Lie and the Lady" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

The 8th Circle
Sarah Cain
Crooked Lane Books
9781629534800, $24.99, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: A year ago, Danny Ryan lost his wife and son in a car accident. He's still reeling from the tragedy when Michael Cohen, his friend and fellow journalist, drives into the pond in front of his house with a bullet through his gut. With Michael's death ruled a murder, Danny must work to get his name crossed off the list of suspects, and that means digging into Michael's last article, an expose of the twisted side of Philadelphia politics. But powerful people are ready to kill to protect what Michael was about to uncover, and if Danny's not careful, he'll be next.

Critique: All the more impressive when noting that this is Sara Cain's debut as a novelist, "The 8th Circle" is a truly riveting read from beginning to end and demonstrates a laudable mastery of the genre. Very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The 8th Circle" is also available in a paperback edition (9781629534855, $14.99) Kindle format ($7.99).

A Taste for Nightshade
Martine Bailey
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250056924, $27.99, HC, 464pp,

Synopsis: The year is 1787. The place is Manchester, England. When budding young criminal Mary Jebb swindles Michael Croxon's brother with a blank pound note, he chases her into the night and sets in motion a train of sinister events. Condemned to seven years of transportation to Australia, Mary sends him a 'Penny Heart'-a token of her vow of revenge. Two years later, Michael marries naive young Grace Moore. Although initially overjoyed at the union, Grace quickly realizes that her husband is more interested in her fortune than her company. Lonely and desperate for companionship, she turns to her new cook to help mend her ailing marriage. But Mary Jebb, shipwrecked, maltreated, and recently hired, has different plans for the unsuspecting owners of Delafosse Hall. In "A Taste for Nightshade", author Martine Bailey combines recipes, mystery and a dark struggle between two desperate women.

Critique: "A Taste for Nightshade" is a compellingly good read from beginning to end and clearly establishes author Martine Bailey as a master of the genre. Very highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Taste for Nightshade" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet
Mike Berland & Gale Bernhardt
Regan Arts
65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
9781942872504, $26.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Have you been gaining a pound or so a year, for the past few years? Do you crave sugar and snacks, and worry that you can't control your cravings? Do you feel that the more you exercise, the hungrier you are and the more you eat? Does exercise make you feel tired and weak? Are you working out more than ever and still gaining weight? In "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" there are no games, gimmicks, shakes, or starvation tactics. Just a straightforward and simple, doctor-approved approach to eating and exercise that throws out decades of bad science and will transform you from being a fat-storing person into a permanent fat burning machine. Follow this 12 week dieting plan and you will experience dramatic, life-altering results.

Critique: Informed, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" is the collaborative work of Mike Berland (who personally experienced a dramatic reduction in weight which he has retained, and who successfully completed his first New York City Marathon, as well as the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI, and Gale Bernhardt (who is a two-time Olympic coach and leading athletic trainer), is very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Health & Medicine instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fat-Burning Machine" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

The Education of Jennie Wang
Jennie Wang
Bilingual Academy Press
9780692588031, $22.88, PB, 254pp,

Synopsis: Jennie Wang is an American college professor wrote drew upon more than fifty notebooks and diaries she wrote during the Cultural Revolution in China as a basis for her memoir. Her first memory of student activism ended with the death of a teacher in 1966. Thrown out of school after the first year of junior high, Jennie made a birthday wish to complete her own education "to the highest level attainable". In this success story of her life, the "Tiger Mother", the "abusive father", the peer competition and peer pressure are hard to find. Instead, the reader is introduced to long lists of books circulated underground, school systems and education reform, class privilege and class identity, women's liberation and women's theater, life in the countryside and deaths in the city. All is revisited through a distanced, ironic and objective "Third Eye (I)". Many interesting photos surprise the reader one after another. "The Education of Jennie Wang: Memoir of a Good Student" is especially commended to the attention of Teachers, grandmas, divorced parents, their children, and anyone else who has a genuine interest in the culture of contemporary China. With a Reading Guide, college and university classroom instructors will find "The Education of Jennie Wang" a unqiue, thought-provoking and refreshing approach to teaching students across disciplines.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Education of Jennie Wang: Memoir of a Good Student" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections.

Beyond A Charmed Life
Barbara Huntress Tresness
Divine Phoenix Books
P.O. Box 1001, Skaneateles, NY 13152
9781941859438, $20.00, PB, 206pp,

Synopsis: "Beyond a Charmed Life: A Mother's Unconditional Love' is an inspirational memoir about a mother's love for her special needs son told through a series of heartfelt stories and with a justifiably triumphant spirit of overcoming insurmountable challenges. From caretaker to advocate role, Barbara Huntress Tresness wants to share her belief that "you are not alone and hope does exist ." "Beyond A Charmed Life" is a true story of tenacity, triumph and a spiritual awakening to the universal forces that help mother and child have an unbroken bond that transcends everything.

Critique: Impressively written with candor, wit, insight, and intimacy, "Beyond a Charmed Life: A Mother's Unconditional Love" is as inspired and inspiring as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A simply wonderful read from beginning to end, "Beyond a Charmed Life" is very highly recommended for community library collections, and should be considered a "must" for all parents with a special needs child of their own.

Tending Brigid's Flame
Lunaea Weatherstone
Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738740898, $17.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Filled with rituals, exercises, and meditations, "Tending Brigid's Flame: Awaken to the Celtic Goddess of Hearth, Temple, and Forge" presents the beloved Celtic goddess through three aspects of her sacred flame:

Hearth: The Welcoming Flame opens the door to receive Brigid into your home, to protect and make sacred all the activities of everyday life. Food magic, hospitality, and house-blessing are some of the ways Brigid keeps your home fires burning.

Temple: The Devotional Flame explores Brigid's allies, seasons, symbols, and sacred places. You'll meet Brigid's sister goddesses, both Celtic and worldwide, and learn about the timeless custom of flamekeeping and other ways you can offer your devotion to Brigid within the temple of your heart.

Forge: The Transforming Flame shares ways in which Brigid transforms and inspires through craft and creativity, healing of body and spirit, the power of words, and tempering your skills into personal excellence.

Brigid has brought Celtic spirituality close to the hearts of people worldwide. Tending Brigid's Flame celebrates your own personal connection with Brigid and her place in your world.

Critique: Lunaea Weatherstone is a priestess dedicated to Brigid and a flamekeeper tending the Goddess's perpetual flame. As priestess, writer, teacher, and tarot counselor, Lunaea has served the Pagan community for more than twenty-five years, including her time as owner/editor of SageWoman magazine. As Grove Mother for the Sisterhood of the Silver Branch, she offers year-long programs in goddess spirituality. Lunaea has been working with the tarot for forty years and is the author of the Victorian Fairy Tarot and the Mystical Cats Tarot. In "Tending Brigid's Flame: Awaken to the Celtic Goddess of Hearth, Temple, and Forge" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to present a major contribution to Metaphysical Studies in an informed and informative work that is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tending Brigid's Flame" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Powerful Peaceful Parenting
Stacy Haynes
H Press
c/o Little Hands Family Services, LLC
9781939288783, $15.99, PB, 124pp,

Synopsis: "Powerful Peaceful Parenting: Guiding Children, Changing Lives" by Stacy Haynes (a counseling psychologist who specializes in the needs of children, families and parenting concerns) can dramatically and effectively change the way parents raise their children! The greatest compliment for a parent is, "Your child is great!" Great parenting can create great kids. "Powerful Peaceful Parenting" isn't about theory or philosophy-it's all about specific Biblical and Psychological strategies for the everyday challenges most parents face. In ten short chapters, parents will find dozens of practical tips and suggestions for such common situations as making mornings easier, dealing with anger, getting kids to listen and how to manage family time more effectively. Each Chapter has a self reflection time of prayer and scripture that allows you to reflect on the parenting experience. Parenting was never meant to be frustrating, tiresome, or difficult. Let the simple guidance within "Powerful Peaceful Parenting" help you change the way you parent -- so that you can raise your children with calm and peacefulness the way God intended parenting to be.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring, "Powerful Peaceful Parenting: Guiding Children, Changing Lives" is impressively well written and thoroughly 'parent friendly' in tone, content, organization, and presentation. Very highly recommended for community library Parenting instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Powerful Peaceful Parenting" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Shouting in the Dark
Elleke Boehmer
Sandstone Press
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781910124291, $17.00, PB, 273pp,

Synopsis: Ella has a difficult relationship with her domineering father, and with apartheid South Africa, the troubled country in which she lives. Whilst seeking political refuge in Europe Ella makes an unexpected discovery that forces her to confront both her father's ghosts and the shape of her own future. In the Netherlands, the country of his birth, her father, Ella finds, never officially recognized her existence.

Critique: A carefully crafted and riveting read from beginning to end, "The Shouting in the Dark" undeniably establishes author Elleke Boehmer as an exceptionally skilled novelist of the first order. Thoroughly entertaining and absorbing, "The Shouting in the Dark" is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Shouting in the Dark" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Conscious Parenting
Rabbi Garbriel Cousens, MD & Leah Lynn
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781583949962, $21.95, PB, 600pp,

Synopsis: Conscious Parenting is a practical and comprehensive resource for parents seeking advice on optimal vegan nutrition and the importance of unplugging and having quiet time in nature for today's children. Anchored by extensive research on the importance of diet and environment by the world's leading authority on spiritual nutrition, the book is packed with advice and information to help you choose authentic, organic, vegan food for optimal health; support your child's emotional, social, and mental development; counter the effects of environmental toxins and harmful media; and create a nurturing environment for your child's spiritual growth.

Critique: The collaborative work of Rabbi Garbriel Cousens (The Founder and director of the Tree of Life Foundation, which trains spiritual counselors and coordinates international humanitarian programs benefitting disadvantaged families, children, and indigenous cultures through holistic education) and Leah Lynn (a Montessori teacher and founder of Mama Greens Children's Garden, a nurturing home-based daycare in Patagonia, Arizona), "Conscious Parenting: The Holistic Guide to Raising and Nourishing Healthy, Happy Children" is as informed and informative as it is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, and presentation. A unique and extraordinary reference work, "Conscious Parenting" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Parenting Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Conscious Parenting" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Red Blood, Yellow Skin
Linda L. T. Baer
River Grove Books
c/o Greenleaf Book Group
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781632990273, $16.95, PB, 342pp,

Synopsis: Linda Baer was born Nguyen Thi Loan, in the village of Tao Xa, Thai Binh Province, in North Vietnam in 1947. When she was four years old, the Viet Minh attacked her village and killed her father, leaving Loan and her mother to fend for themselves. Seeking escape from impoverishment, her mother married a rich and dominating widower who was cruel to his free-spirited and mischievous stepdaughter. Loan found solace in the company of animals and insects and escaped into the branches of trees.

In 1954, her family chose to relocate to South Vietnam, rather than live under the yoke of communist North Vietnam. When Loan was thirteen, she ran away to Saigon to flee the cruelty of her stepfather and worked at menial jobs to help her family. At seventeen, she was introduced to bars, nightclubs, and Saigon Tea. At eighteen, she dated and lived with a young American airman. Two months after their baby was born, the airman returned to America, and Loan never heard from him again. She raised their son by herself. However, time healed her heart, and she eventually found true love in a young air force officer, whom she married and accompanied to America in 1971.

"Red Blood, Yellow Skin" is a real-life story of romance, culture, traditions, and family. It describes the pain, struggle, despair, and violence as Loan lived it. The story is hers, but it is also an account of Vietnam of those who were uprooted, displaced, brutalized, and left homeless. It is about this struggle to survive and her extraordinary triumph over adversity that Baer writes.

Critique: An absolutely absorbing read from beginning to end, "Red Blood, Yellow Skin" is a deeply personal and candidly honest memoir of a troubled life in troubled times. An ultimate testimony to the triumph of the human spirit over horrifically difficult circumstances, "Red Blood, Yellow Skin" is very highly recommended for community library biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Red Blood, Yellow Skin" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Bio Art: Altered Realities
William Myers
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500239322, $55.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: In an era of fast-paced technological progress and with the impact of humans on the environment increasing, the concept of "nature" itself seems called into question. In "Bio Art: Altered Realities", William Myers (a writer, curator and teacher based in Amsterdam who mentors masters students at the Design Academy in Eindhoven and serves as the jury chairman for the Bio Art and Design Awards in the Netherlands, granting €75.000 each year to create new work) explores the work of "bio artists", those who work with living organisms and life processes to address the possibilities and dangers posed by biotechnological advancement. A contextual introduction traces the roots of bio artistic practice, followed by four thematic chapters: Altering Nature, Experimental Identity and Mediums, Visualizing Scale and Scope, and Redefining Life. The chapters cover the key areas in which biotechnology has had an impact on today's world, including ecology, biomedicine, designer genomes, and changing approaches to evolutionary theory, and include profiles of the work of sixty artists, collectives, and organizations from around the world. Interviews with eight leading bio artists and technologists provide deeper insight into the ideas and methods of this new breed of creative practitioners.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of some 300 illustrations, artist interviews, a biography, a liste of references, and a very useful index, "Bio Art: Altered Realities" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. A complete and comprehensive study that is appropriate for both community and academic library collections, "Bio Art: Altered Realities" is strongly recommended to the attention of both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the applications and ramification of biotechnology as an art form and as an evolving technology.

Art Nouveau: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know
Susie Hodge
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791381282, $19.95, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: "Art Nouveau: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know" is a collection of the finest examples of Art Nouveau and shows how the movement impacted every artistic discipline. The heyday of the Art Nouveau style was relatively short, spanning the decades immediately before and after 1900. However it was a tremendously important period, not only for its radical shift away from the academic and romantic movements of the late 19th century, but also for its embrace of nature and natural forms. This authoritative, accessible, and beautifully illustrated book explores fifty of the most important works of the Art Nouveau style. From Mackmurdo's jacket design of Christopher Wren's City Churches to Sykes' sculpture, The Spirit of Ecstasy, each work is presented in double-page spreads that chronologically trace Art Nouveau's development and breadth--from architecture, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, and graphic arts, Toulouse-Lautrec's poster advertising the Divan Japonais, to home decor, lamps by Tiffany and Daum Frères, and painting, Munch's Madonnas and Walter Crane's Neptune's Horses. Each entry includes a full-page illustration and concise explanatory texts. An introductory essay on the history and legacy of Art Nouveau, along with brief biographies of the artists featured in "Art Nouveau: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know", make this a comprehensive yet compact reference work.

Critique: Art Nouveau is considered a "total" art style, embracing architecture, graphic art, interior design, and most of the decorative arts including jewellery, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils and lighting, as well as the fine arts. According to the philosophy of the art nouveau style, art should be a way of life. For many well-off Europeans and Americans, it was possible to live in an art nouveau-inspired house with art nouveau furniture, silverware, fabrics, ceramics including tableware, jewellery, cigarette cases, etc. Artists desired to combine the fine arts and applied arts, even for utilitarian objects. A complete course of instruction with respect to the Art Nouveau movement under one cover, "Art Nouveau: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.

Art Deco: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know
Lynn Federle Orr
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791381688, $19.95, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: "Art Deco: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know" provides an accessible overview of Art Deco, and embraces nearly every artistic medium including paintings and photography to furnishings and film through fifty superb examples of Art Deco style that reveal the period's richness and range. Art Deco was an artistic movement that originated in France after World War I and spread throughout Europe and America. Presented chronologically in full-page illustrations accompanied by explanatory texts, these fifty iconic examples demonstrate the variety of ways Art Deco was expressed. Included here are a soup tureen designed by Jean Puiforcat; Edward Steichen's portrait of Fred Astaire; a brass-framed mirror by Austrian Franz Hagenauer; a still from the Busby Berkeley film, Footlight; and The Portrait of a Young Girl in a Green Dress by the Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka. Other examples include jewelry, architecture, posters, and items used in everyday life. Opening with an authoritative overview of the Art Deco movement and including biographies of each of the artists, "Art Deco: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know" is a compact and affordable reference work and a beautifully designed book for every art lover's library.

Critique: Art Deco emerged from the inter-war period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. Featuring impressively informative commentaries and beautifully reproduced illustrations, "Art Deco: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know" is very highly recommended for art students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Art Deco movement. No community, art school, or community library 20th Century Art History collection is complete without the inclusion of Lynn Federle Orr's "Art Deco: 50 Works Of Art You Should Know".

A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia
Laura N. Gitlin & Catherine Verrier Piersol
Camino Books, Inc.
PO Box 59026, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9781933822907, $22.00, PB, 112pp,

Synopsis: Mom has nothing to do I m concerned about her quality of life. My husband gets agitated when I need to leave the house I don t know what to do. My father keeps asking the same questions over and over. These are some of the common challenges encountered by individuals and families who are caring for a parent, spouse or close relative with dementia. "A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia: Using Activities and Other Strategies to Prevent, Reduce and Manage Behavioral Symptoms" is an easy-to-use, practical guide is designed to help at-home caregivers navigate these daily challenges. Although there is no cure for dementia or its many behavioral symptoms, there are clear and proven strategies that can be used to enhance the quality of life for persons diagnosed with dementia--strategies that can make a real difference for their families.

"A Caregiver s Guide to Dementia" explores the use of activities and other techniques to prevent, reduce and manage the behavioral symptoms of dementia. Separate sections cover daily activities, effective communication, especially difficult behaviors, and explicit strategies to deal with agitation, repetitive questions, acting-out, wandering, restlessness, hoarding, resistance to care, incontinence, destructiveness, sexually and socially inappropriate acts at home and in public, aggressiveness, depression, sleep disturbances and home safety. Worksheets are provided to help caregivers customize the strategies that work best for them.

Critique: The collaborative work of Laura N. Gitlin (Professor of Community Public Health and Director of the Center for Innovative Care in Aging at Johns Hopkins University) and Catherine Verrier Piersol (Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Clinical Director of Jefferson Elder Care at Thomas Jefferson University), "A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia: Using Activities and Other Strategies to Prevent, Reduce and Manage Behavioral Symptoms" is a compilation and presentation of strategies which have been used by the authors in their research studies and which reflect approaches and techniques that families have found to be most helpful. Practical, thoroughly "user friendly" in application, and exceptionally well presented, "A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia" is very highly recommended, especially for family's caring for a loved one suffering from dementia; nursing homes caring for residents with dementia, and for both community and academic library dementia treatment instructional reference collections. For the personal reading lists of caretakers, it should be noted that "A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

You Don't Have to Die to Go to Heaven
Susan Allison, PhD
Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578635887 $18.95 pbk / $18.00 Kindle

Synopsis: What if we really didn't have to die to go to heaven? What if we could prove to ourselves through direct experience that spirit worlds exist, that there is no death, that we all are immortal, and that our departed loved ones are fine? We can and they are. Dr. Susan Allison shows us how in this breakthrough book. She teaches how to go into shamanic trance and spirit travel to other realms to meet animal helpers, spirit allies, and gurus, divine teachers and loved ones. Using the information in this book, you'll meet and connect or reconnect with your soul tribe. We can overcome our fear of death and feel comfort in knowing where our departed loved ones have gone. No one needs to wait to have a near-death experience before visiting a level of heaven; everyone can go now, meet with spirit allies, guides, and teachers and transform their lives. Visit the author at

Critique: You Don't Have to Die to Go to Heaven is an emotionally moving, transcendent read. A deep sense of reassurance and comfort springs from this vivid testimony of reaching beyond natural limitations. You Don't Have to Die to Go to Heaven speaks openly to readers of all faiths and backgrounds, bringing a message of hope, and encouragement for the lifelong learning at all physical and spiritual levels. Especially recommended for new age and spirituality collections.

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

Across the Arctic Ocean
Sir Wally Herbert & Huw Lewis-Jones
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500252147, $39.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: On February 21, 1968, Wally Herbert and his team of three companions and forty huskies set out from Point Barrow, Alaska, embarking on a route that would take them some 3,800 miles over sixteen months, across the North Pole and the frozen Arctic Ocean via its longest axis. Though their achievement was overshadowed by the Apollo moon landing, it stands today as one of the greatest expeditions of all time. Featuring an impressive team of expert commentators and illustrated with stunning photographs, "Across the Arctic Ocean: Original Photographs from the Last Great Polar Journey" is an engrossing firsthand record of an astonishing journey and one that will probably never be repeated. The Arctic Ocean as a whole is attracting worldwide attention because of global warming, the shrinking ice cap, the opening up of new northerly trade routes, and competition between nations for potentially vast untapped mineral resources. "Across the Arctic Ocean" is therefore a truly timely account of the last great frontier in a rapidly changing world and will appeal to all those interested in exploration, polar science, the great outdoors, and human endeavor.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of 157 illustrations, of which 86 are in color, "Across the Arctic Ocean: Original Photographs from the Last Great Polar Journey" is an outstanding study that is based on the British explorer Sir Walter William "Wally" Herbert (24 October 1934 - 12 June 2007) expedition. Huw Lewis-Jones is a historian of exploration and an award-winning author in his own right. The first expedition to reach the North Pole by surface travel, through the words and images of the man who led it, "Across the Arctic Ocean" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end and very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections.

Art, Peace, and Transcendence
Paul Re
University of New Mexico Press
MSC05 3185
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826355157, $45.00, HC, 152pp,

Synopsis: Paul Re has been acclaimed as "a virtuoso of the pencil" for his art of "quiet greatness and noble simplicity". His artwork has been shown in twenty-two solo exhibits in thirteen states, including the traveling exhibition Touchable Art for the Blind and Sighted. He is the founder of the Paul Bartlett Re Peace Prize, which administered by the University of New Mexico Foundation, and he is the author of "The Dance of the Pencil: Serene Art". In "Art, Peace, and Transcendence: Reograms That Elevate and Unite" Paul Re invites us to join him on his journey for harmony, wisdom, and inner joy. His hybrid hand-digital prints called Reograms. Re's digital prints are computer manipulations of the drawings, paintings, and sculptures he has created over his forty-year career. The transformations may be mild or dramatic, with each being manually massaged into a harmonious whole. Commentary by the artist, drawing from his background in physics, philosophy, and the practice of yoga and meditation, accompanies the fifty-eight full-page plates, placing each piece in its historical context. Bridging the lines of art and science, Re takes us on a discovery of our oneness with the whole of the universe and the source from which it emerged.

Critique: "Art, Peace, and Transcendence: Reograms That Elevate and Unite" showcases a unique artistic vision and talent with twenty-seven duo tone and thirty-one full color illustrations. With its informed and informative commentary, "Art, Peace, and Transcendence: Reograms That Elevate and Unite" is an impressive study from beginning to end, and very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library American Art History reference collections in general, and Paul Re supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Winfield Scott's Vision for the Army
Mark C. Vlahos
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483438337, $19.51, PB, 210pp,

Synopsis: Truly visionary, Winfield Scott's enduring contribution to the Union war effort was the "Anaconda Plan". This plan in essence became the basic overall Union military strategy in the American Civil War. Unlike most in 1861, Scott envisioned a protracted four year long war that would involve large numbers of troops and a grand strategy. Winfield Scott had another vision in 1861. This vision determined the role the standing, Regular Army would play as the Union mobilized to suppress the rebellion of the Southern states. Scott's vision called for the Regulars to be a nucleus for the Union Army to form around as it expanded. Scott's decision to keep Regular units intact would have a lasting impact on mobilization, training and the war effort the next four years. Some tried to persuade Scott to scatter Regular officers and men throughout formations to be teachers or a "training cadre". However, Scott was able to persuade the Secretary of War and Present Lincoln to keep Regular officers, enlisted forces, and military units intact. Scot formulated this policy on a lifetime of soldiering and experiences.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Winfield Scott's Vision for the Army: Mobilizing the North to Preserve the Union" is an original and strongly recommended contribution to the growing library of American Civil War histories. A truly impressive military history, "Winfield Scott's Vision for the Army" will prove an enduringly popular and valued addition to community, and academic library American Civil War reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Winfield Scott's Vision for the Army" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Sage's Eyes
V. C. Andrews
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451650914, $7.99, PB, 400pp,

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of -- something. And maybe they're right to because even she can't make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don't, that her parents and teachers (and no other adult) could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they'll learn, far too many things.

Critique: Another memorable work of fiction from a master of the genre, V. C. Andrews once again has written a "must read" novel for her legions of fans with the publication of "Sage's Eyes". A riveting and highly recommended read. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sage's Eyes" is available in a Kindle edition ($6.99), while libraries should acquire the hardcover edition of "Sage's Eyes" (Gallery Books, 9781501131202, $27.99).

The Ecumenical Movement
Michael Kinnamon, editor
World Council of Churches
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9782825416655, $50.00, 530pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition "The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices" is comprised of nearly 150 documents in this anthology the virtually embodies "the ecumenical century" and are presented here as a definitive collection for both classroom and reference. Included are significant passages from the most widely influential texts produced by assemblies, consultations, and statements of the World Council of Churches. They address the most important aspects of the ecumenical movement, from its beginnings more than a century ago to today. As an indispensable resource, this enlarged second edition includes some 75 new texts, many of them produced since the first edition was published in 1997. Classic documents from the movement's earlier decades have been retained, but many short excerpts have been removed in favor of fewer (but fuller) texts. The book's numerous contents are grouped in the following categories: The Ecumenical Vision: Toward an Integration of Unity, Mission, Justice, and Renewal * The Unity of the Church: Toward a Common Definition * Agreement on Issues That Divide the Church: Toward Fuller Communion in Christ * Ecumenical Social Thought: Toward Solidarity in Humanity's Struggles Combating Racism, Renouncing War and Violence, Overcoming Poverty, Protecting the Environment * Mission and Evangelism: Toward Common Witness throughout the Earth * Dialogue with People of Other Faiths: Toward Better Understanding of Our Neighbors * Learning and Prayer: Toward a Community of Formation and Spirituality * Councils of Churches: Toward an Understanding of Their Nature and Purpose * Challenges Ahead: Toward an Ecumenical Future.

Critique: The compiler and editor for this second edition of "The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices", Michael Kinnamon is a widely respected theologian with deep and longstanding involvement in global ecumenism. Formerly on the staff of Faith and Order in the WCC, he also served as Miller Professor of Mission and Peace at Eden Seminary and as general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. For the last three years he has been Spehar-Halligan Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Collaboration in Interreligious Dialogue at Seattle University. "The Ecumenical Movement" is a significant work of Christian scholarship and very highly recommended for personal, church, seminary, community, and academic library Christian Studies reference collections.

Murach's Android Programming, second edition
Joel Murach
Mike Murach & Associates
4340 North Knoll Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722
9781890774936, $57.50, PB, 663pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Murach's Android Programming" is a complete and comprehensive course of instruction on how to develop high-quality apps like the ones found in the Google Play store. The only prerequisite is a basic knowledge of Java. Everything else, including software installation, is covered. To start, "Murach's Android Programming" shows the Android Studio and Java skills you need to develop a Tip Calculator app for a smartphone or tablet. Then, it expands upon this app to show must-have Android skills such as working with layouts, widgets, events, themes, styles, menus, preferences, and fragments. Next, "Murach's Android Programming" presents two more apps that illustrate Android skills programmers use every day, such as working with threads, files, adapters, intents, services, notifications, broadcast receivers, SQLite databases, content providers, and app widgets. Finally, "Murach's Android Programming" presents an app that uses the Google Maps API and shows you how to submit your finished apps to the Google Play store. The real-world apps let you see how the skills you're learning work together, and they illustrate how and when you'd use each skill. And all the content is presented in Murach's distinctive paired-pages style that developers find so clear and time-saving for both training and reference.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Murach's Android Programming" is an ideal do-it-yourself instructional textbook that will prove to be an enduringly valued addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Computer Science reference collections in general, and Android Programming supplemental studies lists in particular.

Essays On Thermodynamics, Architecture and Beauty
Inaki Abalos
Actar D
c/o ActarBirkhauser Distribution
151 Grand Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10013
9781940291192, $39.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Essays on Thermodynamics, Architecture and Beauty, is a information ; dense study that unfolds arguments and designs around the concept of "thermodynamic beauty". This new aesthetic category opens up new and unexpected directions to the architect's work, connecting architecture and thermodynamics without giving up the tectonic tradition. The compendium will be developed through the concepts of Somatisms, Monsters Assemblage, Verticalism and Thermodynamic Materialism, summarizing design strategies, and opening new territories at the scales of building, public space and landscape.

Critique: Profusely, effectively, and beautifully illustrated throughout, "Essays On Thermodynamics, Architecture and Beauty" by Inaki Abalos (Chair of Department of Architecture GSD Harvard University) is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship and a critically important, 'cutting edge' contribution to professional and academic library Architectural Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

No One Avoided Danger
J. Michael Wenger, Robert J. Cressman, John F. Di Virgilio
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612519241, $34.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: "No One Avoided Danger: NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attack of 7 December 1941" is a detailed combat narrative of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attacks on NAS Kaneohe Bay, one of two naval air stations on the island of O'ahu. Partly because of Kaneohe's location (15 air miles over a mountain range from the main site of that day's infamous attack on Pearl Harbor-) military historians have largely ignored the station's story. Moreover, there is an understandable tendency to focus on the massive destruction sustained by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The attacks on NAS Kaneohe Bay, however, were equally destructive and no less disastrous, notwithstanding the station's considerable distance from the harbor.

The work focuses on descriptions of actions in the air and on the ground at the deepest practical, personal, and tactical level, from both the American and Japanese perspectives. Such a synthesis is possible only by pursuing every conceivable source of American documents, reminiscences, interviews, and photographs. Similarly, the authors sought out Japanese accounts and photography from the attacks, many appearing in print for the first time. Information from the Japanese air group and aircraft carrier action reports has never before been used.

On the American side, the authors also have researched the Official Military Personnel Files at the National Personnel Records Center and National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, extracting service photographs and details of the military careers of American officers and men. The authors are among the first historians to be allowed access to previously unused service records. The authors likewise delved into the background and personalities of key Japanese participants, and have translated and incorporated the Japanese aircrew rosters from the attack. This accumulation of data and information makes possible an intricate and highly integrated story that is unparalleled. The interwoven narratives of both sides provide a deeper understanding of the events near Kaneohe Bay than any previous history.

Critique: Enhanced throughout with period photography, "No One Avoided Danger: NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attack of 7 December 1941" is a critically important addition to the growing library of World War II literature in general, and the Pacific Campaign in particular. A seminal work of research-based scholarship, "No One Avoided Danger" is enhanced with the inclusion of U.S. Navy and Japanese Aircraft Names; Japanese Names; Hawaiian Place Names; National Personnel Records Center, a Glossary, Nots on Ship Names and Tunes, eighteen pages of Notes, a ten page Bibliography, and a twenty-nine page Index. Very highly recommended for community and academic library World War II Military History reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No One Avoided Danger" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

Canadian Pacific: The Golden Age of Travel
Barry Lane
Goose Lane Editions
500 Beverbrook Court, Suite 330, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 5X4
9780864928788, $45.00, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: The story of Canadian Pacific railroad is one of the greatest railroading stories in the world. Straddling the continent for more than a century and globe for more than fifty years, Canadian Pacific is inextricably linked with the history of Canada itself. In 1885, the company completed the construction of two thousand miles of railway system and linking the Atlantic to the Pacific. It then established fleets of vessels on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, laying the foundation for a transportation route that allowed members of the British Empire to travel around the world. To enhance the travel experience, the company also constructed great castle-like hotels, including the Algonquin in St. Andrews, the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, and the Banff Springs Hotel in the Rockies, which themselves became landmarks. "Canadian Pacific: The Golden Age of Travel" is a sumptuously illustrated history of a company whose story is integral to the Golden Age of Travel. Author Barry Lane ably recounts the history of Canadian Pacific, from the construction of the transcontinental railway to the development of the hotels and the building of the shipping line that linked Canada to the rest of the world.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Canadian Pacific: The Golden Age of Travel" is a uniquely informative and inherently fascinating history from beginning to end. This coffee-table format edition is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of railroading enthusiasts and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Railroading History collections.

Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty
Dan Jones
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525428299, $27.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: The Magna Carta is revered around the world as the founding document of Western liberty. Its principles, even its language, can be found in our Bill of Rights and in the Constitution. But what was this strange document and how did it gain such legendary status? In "Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty", author and historian Dan Jones takes us back to the turbulent year of 1215, when, beset by foreign crises and cornered by a growing domestic rebellion, King John reluctantly agree to fix his seal to a document that would change the course of history. At the time of its creation the Magna Carta was just a peace treaty drafted by a group of rebel barons who were tired of the king's high taxes, arbitrary justice, and endless foreign wars. The fragile peace it established would last only two months, but its principles have reverberated over the centuries.

Jones's riveting narrative follows the story of the Magna Carta's creation, its failure, and the war that subsequently engulfed England, and charts the high points in its unespected afterlife. Reissued by King John's successors it protected the Church, banned unlawful imprisonment, and set limits to the exercise of royal power. It established the principle that taxation must be tied to representation and paved the way for the creation of Parliament.

In 1776 American patriots, inspired by that long-ago defiance, dared to pick up arms against another English king and to demand even more far-reaching rights. We think of the Declaration of Independence as our founding document but those who drafted it had their eye on the Magna Carta.

Critique: "Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty" is history come alive. Rich in detail, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, as informed and informative as it is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, "Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese
Gordon Edgar
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781603585651,$25.00, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: One of the oldest, most ubiquitous, and beloved cheeses in the world, the history of cheddar is a fascinating one. Over the years it has been transformed, from a painstakingly handmade wheel to a rindless, mass-produced block, to a liquefied and emulsified plastic mass untouched by human hands. The Henry Fordism of cheddar production in many ways anticipated the advent of industrial agriculture. They don't call it "American Cheese" for nothing.

"Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese" is Gordon Edgar's picaresque journey to find out what a familiar food can tell us about ourselves. Cheddar may be appreciated in almost all American homes, but the advocates of the traditional wheel versus the processed slice often have very different ideas about food. Since cheddar?with its diversity of manufacturing processes and tastes?is such a large umbrella, it is the perfect food through which to discuss many big food issues that face our society.

More than that, though, cheddar actually holds a key to understanding not only issues surrounding food politics, but also some of the ways we think of our cultural identity. Cheddar, and its offshoots, has something to tell us about this country: the way people rally to certain cheddars but not others; the way they extol or denounce the way others eat it; the role of the commodification of a once-artisan cheese and the effect that has on rural communities. The fact that cheddar is so common that it is often taken for granted means that examining it can lead us to the discovery of usually unspoken truths.

Critique: In "Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese" author Gordon Edgar draws upon his more than fifteen years as an iconoclastic cheesemonger in San Francisco. His talents for observation and social critique on the history and food politics of the cheese industry offers an entirely fresh perspectives on one of the most popular forms of cheese consumed by the American public. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented from beginning to end, "Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese" is a "must" for the legions of dedicated cheese enthusiasts, as well as certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese" is available in a Kindle edition ($14.75) as well. Also very highly recommended is Gordon Edgar's previous book, "Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge" (9781603582377, $17.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 256pp).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind
Charlene Jones
Heartongue Press
9780993911415, $14.00 PB, $8.00 Kindle, 136 pages,

Charlene Diane Jones has crafted in Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind a simple to read, stress-free method set down in clear common terms to aid the reader as the writer explores the healing power of the mind.

While not a lengthy tome, 92 pages with a number of them blank at the end of a chapter; the work is not a quick read. It is meant to be studied, savored, implemented and read again, and perhaps again. While I do not know if the intent of the writer or publisher for those blank pages; I found the pages handy for making notes as I went along with my first read.

The paperback begins with dedication, acknowledgements and Preface by Buddhist teacher David Brazier.

Chapter titles encourage the reader toward the writer's Personal History with Vajrayana Tantra Meditation, is an interesting and easy to read, while not so easy to understand if the reader has little awareness of meditation, or Tantra Meditation. As a reader with little awareness I find the author's explanations set down in plain straight forward prose helped me set the tone for exploring the book itself with a little more understanding on my part.

Wongs are explained, history of Vajrayna Tantra, mysticism, how the influence came to Toronoto and an elementary understanding of neuroscience are all detailed.

It was during the 1960s that writer Jones first met Bikkhu Ananda Bodhi, Blissful Wanderer, and gained some awareness who addressed questions tearing at the writer's soul. Why bother living, what is the point of life and why make effort were brought into clarity as the writer began her travel for greater understanding using meditation.

The Neuroscience of Brain Maps, Imagination, Medicine Buddha meditation, Self and Others, and Pain are all presented, explored and brought to the writer's greater awareness that Medicine Buddha practice promotes neuronal changes including shifts in the shape of the brain and provides a platform upon which behavior may begin to be altered via practice.

Mirror Neurons, phantom emotional pain, pain, fear and focusing elsewhere, continue the Jones' journey toward the healing wellness she is seeking. Medicine Buddha is explained, Neuroscience and a Path from the Past as well as the trap of the past are all exposed, before Conclusions and Forward from Here and the writer's hopes and expectations are presented.

I like that the book includes an appendix, glossary and bibliography. The glossary in particular is handy for helping to acquaint a novice to the understanding of meditation, Medicine Buddha and the beliefs of the writer.

Footnotes and Endnotes aid the reader toward other sources for pursuit of greater understanding of the ideas she presents.

I found Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind describes in simple terms how our brains work with meditation including visualization. Despite the dreadfulness experienced during her teens; the writer, as she shares her story telling of her journey to enlightenment and a life without suffering via visualization and meditation, we begin to gain awareness and understanding that these techniques do actually work, and we begin to understand why they do.

Happy to recommend Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind especially for those who may have an interest in meditation, a need for healing and/or dealing with suffering and its results.

Charlene Diane Jones biography on Amazon includes: "And I love writing. I believe writing provides a primary chance for healing, and I know this from first hand experience. Although many methods helped me thrive in my life after a brutal rape and torture when I was sixteen, writing about everything in life helped create a balance and stability I cherish. Like the friend that is always present for me, like the counsellor who has whatever hours I need, writing provides a focus and clarity, a deep understanding, a mystery and a surprise sometimes since what I write often comes out before I've thought about it."

Something Is Rotten in Fettig: A Satire
Jere Krakoff
Anaphora Literary Press
2419 Southdale Drive, Hephzibah, GA 30815
9781681141978, $20.00, 276 Pages

Genre: Satire; Interesting read; Recommended; 5 stars

Jere Krakoff's Something is Rotten in Fettig is a satire comprised of some 265 PAGES of prose offered as 60 chapters, a page with acknowledgements, a list of the cast of characters, a table of caricatures, and an Epilogue.

Something Is Rotten In Fettig wittily satirizes a legal system that is very similar to our own and is practiced in a fabricated nation simply called Republic. The author adroitly names and uses a varied assemblage of distinctive player including lawyers, witnesses, the court system and judges, as well as trials and jury behaviors to deride countless of the activities we often see played on the evening news, or during trials themselves thought so noteworthy that they must be filmed in real time for the nation to consider.

The narrative begins with reader's introduction to Leopold Plotkin around whom the tale unfolds. The infamous kosher butcher has been accused of Crimes against the Republic. From his pro bono lawyer, Bernard Talisman, right on to parents who have already packed his personal possessions, to his uncles who have promised to visit him in prison every third weekend and to The Monthly Contrarian a little read journal who, while considering Plotkin a hero, however had declared in editorial: "Regrettably, there is no realistic possibility for an acquittal" right to Plotkin himself; it appears that everyone seems to think Plotkin will be convicted.

Krakoff presents the travesty wreaked by local legal officials upon one of the neighborhood kosher butchers, Leopold Plotkin, a fellow who harbors a nearly pathological distaste for strife when the man unintentionally foments a predicament of such magnitude that he is propelled into a clash with every area of government.

To complicate matters Plotkin rebuffs every effort undertaken to force him to disengage his supposed transgression. Plotkin and his family are introduced and some of the background for Plotkin's behavior is presented before the reader becomes a courtroom spectator as Plotkin is put on trial by a deceitful Prosecutor General.

The reader learns more of Plotkin and the varied characters peopling the work: there is Prosecutor General Umberto Malatesta's Opening Rant, Plotkin's Childhood Education under the tutelage of librarian Hinta Gelb and his Venturing out with Ana Bloom before the reader embarks on a whirlwind in which Plotkin is Conscripted into the Butcher Shop, gets Arrested, is Imprisoned in Purgatory, is visited by family and friends and is Exiled along with Chicken Plucker.

Indicted by a Secret Blind Jury leads to Plotkin's arrest by the National Constabulary, before he is delivered to the infamous Purgatory House of Detention where he is to be housed with lunatics and other miscreants of the state until such time as his trial and expected guilt are determined.

The reader becomes an onlooker into the Trial of Plotkin as the Jury is selected and empaneled, opening Sermon and Rant, umm statements, are offered, witnesses testify, Prosecution and Defense offer closing Diatribes and the jury deliberates and finally offers a verdict.

Interspersed throughout the book are marvelous, author drawn, pen and ink caricatures of many of the characters introduced in the work. My personal favorites of the caricatures are those of his uncles Moishe and Misha Plotkin and the one of Ana Bloom.

Characters are well developed, many are despicable, again something many may think of some of the so called experts we may hear talking, perhaps as rants about a particular case in the public view on television. This fast paced work is filled with good writing, presented in highly readable prose. The author has woven a thoroughly enjoyable view of some of the behind the scenes machinations we may have thought do take place as we read of cases in the morning news or we may have watched when one or another case is thought to be of earth shattering, public must see, necessity to broadcast via TV.

On the pages of Something is Rotten In Fettig the plotting and maneuvering taking place by the prosecution, authorities and others in their determination to find Plotkin guilty of something, whatever that might be in or out of what the laws of the society may be; tends to remind the reader of some of the shrieks of guilty, and justice must prevail as a suspect is all but tossed over a cliff before ever actually being arrested for the particular crime which has so outraged the populous.

All in all I found Something is Rotten In Fettig to be a very enjoyable, easy to read, simply fun work.

I received an ARC for review; I do not keep all books I receive, this one is a keeper.

Happy to recommend Something is Rotten In Fettig for readers who enjoy satire, and for those who may never have read a satirical work; this one may whet the appetite for more!

I hope writer Krakoff is busy working on his next satirical offering, and creates more of his marvelous caricatures.

About the Author : Before writing Something is Rotten In Fettig author Krakoff was a civil rights attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project in Washington DC, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Mississippi and a legal aid program in Pittsburg.

Something is Rotten In Fettig, says the author was inspired by people, places and events he encountered while litigating, and a lifetime of observing both the best and the worst of the human condition.

Crochet Stitch Guide
Author: Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits
Photographer: Carol //Wilson Mansfield
Pattern Tester: Tammy Layte
Leisure Arts, Inc
9781464707438, $9.99, 96 Pages,

Genre: Educational, Instuctional

Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits' Crochet Stitch Guide is a dandy for needle work enthusiasts.

The first page is the Introduction in which the presenters explain their love for needlework, and explain why they have produced a book filled with crochet stitch patterns, and no end product patterns. This type book is one of my favorites of needle work including crochet and knit pattern productions....

I like to design my own afghan, baby items, toppers, shrugs, placemats and whatever I wish without being bound to the instructions of someone else. Having a handy book filled with stitches in swatches, squares, helps me envision a finished product.

This thin, paperback type work, Crochet Stitch Guide presents a varied selection of motivating stitches designed for needleworking skill levels, from novice to advanced. I like that the work filled with 86 stitch patterns does not mention gauge... how many stitches I must achieve per inch.... The writers mention that while the thread used for producing the samples is Red Heart (R) Luster Sheen (R); a size 2 fine weight yarn.... The designs are planned to be worked with the type yarn, bulky to fingering, or other thread the needlework artist may prefer. Gauge cannot be standard for bulky, cotton or size 10 threads and yarn worked with varied sized hooks and needles.

Each of simple-to-follow, first-rate instructions is presented with a nice clear photograph of each of the various stitches detailed in the book. I particularly like the variety of stitches offered in 7 kinds of stitches including shells, textures, clusters, picots, V stitches, special stitches and miscellaneous

Twenty seven stitch patterns are presented using cluster stitch as the main focus. I think my favorites of these delicate, lacy stitches may be a blue fan created with Cluster (CL) and Double Cluster (dCL) as well as chains and double crochet (dc) comprised of 5 rows set upon a chain of 10 +4 stitches repeated across and down as the work continues. This particular stitch will work up nicely as a baptismal or christening shawl using soft yarn or as a shoulder wrap for an adult worked in a heavier cotton type thread. Most of the cluster stitch patterns are delicate and lacy.

Seven patterns using a more dense, textured Stitch includes 7 stitch patterns employing different height combination, cluster and post stitches, as well as working into the front or back loop to create textured surfaces. As a rule I find pieces worked using dense type work causes the piece being created to become quite heavy and awkward to deal with. I prefer lighter threads and airy open patterns. Three of the 7 patterns are worked as chevrons.

The section highlighting Picots includes 6 lacy, picot stitch patterns. Picots are little loops formed in the work to give the piece a light, airy feel and often works up nice as baby items, christening gown, shawl and the like.

The section featuring V-stitches includes 8 pretty variations with the work implementing v-stitch and picots and v-stitch and shells. When viewing the work, the Vs are noticeable with other stitches worked into them or around them.

Special Stitches includes 10 patterns using a variety of stitches including popcorns, love knot, berry stitch, blocks and bars, and spikes. Well explained directions include the how to for each of the stitches as well as the foundation chain and multiples needed for beginning the pattern i.e. chain multiple 9, chain multiple 9+1.

I am very fond of shells, fans, and this particular work includes 14 stitch patterns to be created using combinations of shells/fans. Depending upon thread used these patterns will work up very well as baby shawls, afghans, shawls for over the shoulders and pretty place mats.

The 14 miscellaneous designs includes patterns calculated for using a varied stitches.

I like that a page is included to serve as a guide novice needle artists and those who may use European terminology as to U.S. crochet abbreviations and terminology. These are the terms and abbreviations one finds in the pattern directions i.e. 3 T in 5th ch from hook, skip next 3 chs, sc in the next ch *ch 2, skip next 3 chs, 5 tr etc ...which means, begin with the chain multiple indicated in the top of the pattern direction, and begin row 1 of the pattern by working in the 5th chain from the loop with your crochet hook create 3 treble stitches, then skip 3 of the foundation chains, and single crochet in the next chain, the * means what now follows is to be repeated across the foundation chain, then move on to row 2 and 3 and etc. patterns run the gamut of repeat 5 rows or 10 or 3 etc for the pattern, desired.

Learning to read directions may seem daunting to the novice, but once a pattern is begun and checking the back of the book for explanation will move novice and European needleworkers right along across the pattern written with US terminology.

I like this thin book filled with nearly 100 pattern stitches, while I crochet less that I knit, I do like to have a nice book handy should I get the urge to crochet a baby shawl or bonnet for a gift, or to produce a lap robe for an aging parent, etc.

Each pattern stitch is shown in a color photo of the finished work alongside the written directions for creating the stitch. I like that, as a crocheting needle worker, who can understand crochet terms and create the pattern, I can grasp the stitch visually as well.

For the needle crafter who has learned to crochet by only looking at the picture and then figuring out, by trial and error, how to accomplish the work, and there are some of these folks using their crochet hooks even in this advanced world in which we live today; the photos provide enough detail to allow success when coupled with checking to understand the pattern detail. It is much easier to produce a pattern stitch when the needle enthusiast does learn to read the directions.

As with every pattern book written there are stitches that will have more appeal to one needle worker than another, on the other hand; I have yet to meet a needle aficionado who purchases any pattern sheet or book providing more than single pattern who loves them all.

This is a book I purchased for my own use and home needle work library.

Happy to recommend Jean Leinhauser & Mary Ann Frits' Crochet Stitch Guide for needle work devotees, boutiques specializing in needle arts, homemaking teachers, as well as home and public library shelves.

Series: Trophy Picture Book Series
Retold and Illustrated Antoinette Delaney
HarperCollins Childrens Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780064433044, $6.28 PB, Paperback,32 pages,

Antoinette Delaney has retold and illustrated an old children's tale and in doing so has produced a children's classroom favorite The Gunnywolf.

Once upon a time in a small cottage at the edge of the woods lived a Little Girl and her Father. No one went into the woods, The Little Girl never did. The woods is where the Gunnywolf lived.

But one day, just inside the woods bloomed a beautiful flower. And, the Little Girl forgot all about the Gunnywolf. She stepped between the trees and picked the flower. And she sang. More blossoms beckoned and deeper into the woods skipped the Little Girl.

The tale continues with a predictable meeting of the Little Girl and the Gunnywolf, and an unpredictable outcome as a result of that meeting. I think the retelling of a scarey boogey man, of some type, is found in the folk lore, worldwide, in many if not all cultures.

During the three decades plus I spent in the classroom with small children, Kindergarten and First Grade, I found many children harboring varying degree of fear regarding the unknown, including a monster under the bed, or in the closet, or in the dark, or ...

While this particular boogey man, The GunnyWolf, was new to me as I returned to the classroom a decade ago, I found the book included in the tomes designated by Harper Trophy, the reading series used by my new school district in Osage County, Oklahoma.

What a joy, and what fun I have had reading and re reading this small book filled with delightful illustrations trailing across each 2 page spread. Text is kept to minimum, at children's Primary reading level, and repeats the alphabet in upper and lower case many times.

Offered in lively, cadenced read-aloud text writer Delaney's child centered book re-counts the narrative of the Little Girl who had been cautioned against going into the woods where the scary Gunnywolf lives.

As each school term begins I do not prep the kids re things children may fear and why they need not.

The Little Girl skips from page to page, building her bouquet, and suddenly one or another of the children notices that EYES seem to be peeking at the Little Girl. Oh My! Now, each page is carefully scrutinized as I read, and sing the letters of the alphabet. Little people sing the letters with me, and look to see if the eyes are present.

While the Little Girl is oblivious; WE see what she has not yet, eyes and then a nose, and FANGS indicating something really frightening hiding behind the tree, in the bushes, very close to the Little Girl who sings her alphabet song as she picks posies.

And then, suddenly, There he is!

What to do!!

The Little Girl and the Gunnywolf begin a race through the woods. It seems the Gunnywolf is captivated by the alphabet song. Each time The Gunnywolf sings the Gunnywolf falls asleep. Pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, away she runs. Un-ka-cha! Un-ka-cha! HERE HE COMES.

The song, sleep, chase is repeated as the Little Girl continues her dash for home with the Gunnywolf right behind continues. Gunnywolf asks the Little Girl to sing the alphabet song time and again.

One thing I have always enjoyed when reading to Little People is that they have invariably joined in as I read. We sang, looked for the Gunnywolf, whispered pit-a-pat and shouted Un-ka-cha! Repeated the letters of the alphabet and just enjoyed every page of the tale.

I particularly liked using The Gunnywolf in the classroom. The alphabet is included in lower case and upper. We sang the lower case softly and upper case louder. I particularly like that the letters are presented in varying beginning and stopping points. So often children can sing The A B Cs, if they always begin with A. The Gunnywolf helps children begin anywhere and sing the letters in order.

I found children today are as worried about the unknown, unseen SOMETHING in the closet, under the bed, in the dark, has not changed much during the many years I taught in the classroom. Children present before me during this last decade of classroom teaching have been as worried about the unknown as were the children I taught back at the beginning of my career.

I like writer Delaney's offering as another book I have used to help Little People deal with the scary. The familiarity of the alphabet, well done illustrations, and gentle outcome all help children verbalize their own concerns as we chat about the tale following the reading of the book.

The Gunnywolf was a permanent fixture in our classroom where children chose the book for free time and DEAR reading, often asked to take it home to share with parents, and was the book chosen by the child of the day as one of the works I read at the close of the day.

The tale has just enough mystery to pique the interest of Little People, but is not so worrisome that children hide, cry or fear the outcome.

Happy to recommend Antoinette Delaney's The Gunnywolf for the classroom, home library, gift giving and reading for pleasure.

Available from Amazon as Hard Cover, Paperback new and used editions, prices range from $6 to $50s.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

Commissioner Lin and the Opium War
Hsin-Pao Chang
W.W. Norton and Company, Inc
500 5th Ave, New York, NY 10110
0393005216, $22.95, 319 pp,

This is the second book I've read on the Opium War. While the first, The Opium War by Julia Lovell, did a good job of covering the subject, I wanted another view. I'm glad I've read Hsin-pao Chang's take on the events leading up to the war. Much of the information in this book overlaps with Lovell's but in some ways I felt as though I was reading about a different China.

Lovell's view of Lin and 19th century Chinese bureaucracy was much less favorable than Chang's. From Lovell I got the impression that Lin was impractical, out of touch and principled. Chang describes a much more reasonable man, one who operated within a rigid system and brought to bear on the system the tools he had. In reading Chang's book, I see why generations of Chinese children have held up Commissioner Lin as a hero. Lovell's book was not as successful in explaining his historic significance in modern China.

A second, important difference between the two books is Chang's emphasis on the economic crisis that confronted China, a crisis precipitated by the importation of vast quantities of opium. While both books describe a moral and social toll that opium took, Chang is much more successful in describing the economic imperative of stopping the trade. Silver was pouring out of China, as increasing quantities of opium were pouring in. A Negative balance of payments was reaching crisis proportions.

The emperor of China charged Lin with stopping the opium trade. Unfortunately this mission was in direct opposition to the interests of British traders and the British government. Britain had its own balance of payment problem. Selling opium to China was one way to fill British coffers.

Neither Lin nor the emperor had a realistic idea of British military power. China was a vast empire that was largely isolated from world affairs. It had contempt for foreign powers and foreign interests. One of the difficulties in negotiating a possible settlement to the opium dispute was the refusal of Lin to negotiate directly with British emissaries because they were not of sufficient stature.

Lin's demands of the British were unyielding--this was partly due to the arrogance with which the Chines regarded the rest of the world and partly due to a cultural/linguistic disconnect. At one point Line imprisoned British traders (that is, he would not let them leave their compound and took their servants away). His demand was simple: all the opium in the traders' possession--on their ships or on land--was to be turned over to Lin.

When this condition was finally met, Lin destroyed the entire stock. There were other issues on which he was also unyielding and the British equally so. He insisted that the murderer of a Chinese man be turned over to Chinese justice. The British refused. They insisted on the right of Britain to try its citizen, even with crimes was committed on Chinese soil.

Back in Britain, a cause celebre was made out of the fact that British citizens had been imprisoned. The outrage over this incident added impetus to the war movement.

Eventually, China found itself engaged in a war it could not win. It was up against a vastly superior military adversary. The Opium War dragged on to a second conflict until eventually the British (and other Western nations) won every concession they sought.

If you enjoy reading a serious history, then read this book. If you want a balanced view of a critical period in Chinese history, then read this book. I did and I learned a great deal from it.

The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of Modern China
Julia Lovell
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster St, New York, NY 10012
1468311735, $19.95, 512pp,

China has the world's largest army. It has more people than any other country on earth. And the size of its economy is second only to that of the US. China's global importance cannot be overstated, and yet to many in the West, China is a cipher. It was for me until a few days ago. That's when I finished reading Julia Lovell's Opium War.

Dr. Lovell's well-sourced history, while not a primer on China, does offer valuable insight into the country's national psyche. This was greatly influenced by the Opium War. This conflict showed China to be helpless before its Western adversaries and it showed those adversaries to be predatory in the pursuit of capital.

At the onset of the first Opium War (there were two) Manchu emperor, Qianlong ruled the "Celestial Empire". Western history books portray the imperial bureaucracy as impenetrable, sclerotic, archaic. According to Dr. Lovell, all of this was true. However, it was not internal flaws that caused the war. British determination to sell opium was the proximate and basic cause of the war.

By the time war broke out, opium had become a scourge in China. Its destructive effects were evident especially in the imperial army. Severe punishment was inflicted on users but this did not end the problem. Qianlong applied what he believed to be the only remedy left to him: he forbade the importation of opium.

The imperial edict was issued at a time when opium brokers were enjoying brisk business in the city of Canton. Not only did they refuse to stop trading in the forbidden commodity, but they fully intended to extend their activities up the coast and even into China's interior.

The British Crown's keen interest in supporting the opium trade was economic--opium was a cash crop. It could be transported cheaply from India, a Crown colony, and exchanged for Chinese silver. Without the opium sales, England would have experienced a trade deficit. Though questions arose in England about the dubious morality of plying opium, these concerns were easily dismissed because of economic considerations.

While Britain was a formidable enemy in 1839--Nelson had established its naval supremacy in 1805 at Trafalgar--Emperor Qianlong was insulated from this information. He knew nothing of the world beyond the borders of his empire and had contempt for those who challenged him. He would not even acknowledge messages sent by British emissaries.

Pre-War China was impenetrable in many ways, and yet traders--the British--were determined that it would be penetrated. Not only did they want to sell opium but they also demanded the right of extraterritoriality--which would have made British residents in China immune to that country's domestic laws.

By the end of the second Opium War, China was humiliated. The right to enforce laws in its sovereign territory had been denied and foreign powers--including the French, Russians and Americans--had established themselves in Chinese territory. Vladivostok, for example, the Russian port city, exists on land that had belonged to China before the Opium Wars. These wars left an indelible mark on China's sense of self. As Westerners today attempt to understand China, a familiarity with its history would be helpful. Dr. Lovell's book is a good first step in that direction. The book is a responsible, entertaining, and informative. I highly recommend it.

A. G. Moore

Peggy's Bookshelf

Ross Howell Jr.
New South Books
105 South Court Street, Montgomery, AL 36104
9781588383174, $27.95, 304 pages,

On March 18, 1912, in racially segregated Hampton Roads, Virginia, 18-year old Charlie Mears was a cub reporter for the "Times-Herald" when Ida Belote's murdered body was discovered by her daughters, Harriet and Sadie. Virginia (Virgie) Christian, a young black girl who washed clothes for Mrs. Belote, was found with the dead woman's purse and quickly arrested for her murder. While covering the case for the newspaper, Charlie was troubled by the lack of a thorough investigation and the presumption of Virgie's guilt. Through his many visits to her jail cell, he learned she was an illiterate 16-year old girl with a very limited understanding of her dire circumstances, none of which was taken in account by the jury of 12 white men. And so, even though she was a child and mentally incompetent to stand trial, she was convicted of first degree murder and died in the electric chair the day after her 17th birthday.

Virginia Christian bears the tragic legacy of being the only female juvenile executed in Virginia. Even though "Forsaken" is a work of historical fiction, it is based on the true story of one of the most infamous and sensational murder trials and executions in the early 20th century. Author Ross Howell allows this compelling story to unfold through the eyes of Charlie Mears, a young white reporter who became so deeply entangled with the individuals involved in the case that his life was threatened and forever altered.

Howell's attention to not only the details of the case but also the time and place in history draw readers into this gripping drama in which southern sensibilities cover up a ruthless underworld of brutal racism. "Forsaken" reveals the smoldering traditions of in-bred, hard core racial bigotry that fan the flames of the vicious hatred and racial discrimination we are witnessing these days, a hundred years later.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Patrick Ness
195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
9780062403162, $17.99, 336 pages,

If we actually lived in a world with superheroes - you know, the Chosen Ones who fight monsters and evil while blowing things up and saving mankind -- we'd probably get bored eventually and ignore them. After all, we still have to go to work every day and pay the bills. That's pretty much how it is for 17-year old Mikey and his sister Mel, and their bfs Henna and Jared. They just want to plow through the last month of high school and graduate except they are helplessly caught up in their teen soap opera. Mikey is OCD and pines for Henna's affection but she has a crush on the suspicious new guy. (Who changes schools a month before graduation?) Mel is a late bloomer recovering from bulimia. Both Mikey and Mel are recovering from their overbearing politician-for-a-mother and alcoholic father. And then there's everybody's bf Jared. He's hiding something big that involves cats and mountain lions.

Meanwhile Satchel - the Katniss Everdeen of this particular Chosen Ones episode - must defeat the Messenger of the Immortals and close the Immortal Crux to save the world. But the Messenger is more powerful than Satchel and indie kids are literally dying to rescue her. An epic battle unfolds one short paragraph at a time at the beginning of each chapter.

So, as if they didn't have enough to deal with, the so-called normal kids have to put up with herds of zombie deer and cops with blue lights for eyes. And through all the weirdness, the explosions, and the disappearing indie kids, the adults just shake their heads and blame suicide and ruptured gas mains, like the Chosen Ones aren't even real and the world isn't constantly on the brink of disaster. Awkward ordinary teens collide with fumbling newbie superheroes in this parody of two genres. "The Rest of Us Just Live Here" is a hilarious comedy with heart and soul - and superheroes. So much fun you'll read it twice.

Suzie Snowflake
Crystaline Rose
Illustrated by Maksym Stasiuk
The Crystalined Path
9780986872716, $12.45, PB, 36 pages,

Suzie Snowflake envies the other snowflakes because she believes they are more beautiful. To her utter dismay she notices a tiny dark speck and worries that it means she's not perfect. In order to be happy Suzie must learn how to accept herself as the unique snowflake she is. Author Crystaline Rose spins universal themes of individuality and self-esteem into a charming fantasy tale that shows young readers how to let their individual lights shine. Maksym Stasniuk uses brilliant colors upon dazzling designs to draw readers into the snowflakes' enchanted world. As a special treat, he leaves a single snowflake at the end for readers to color. Rose's soothing verse and positivity combined with Stasniuk's mesmerizing illustrations make "Suzie Snowflake" an ideal bedtime story.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Roderick's Bookshelf

The French Canadian Heritage In New England
Gerard J. Brault
University Press of New England
1 Court Street, Suite 250, Lebanon, NH 03766-1358
9780874513592, $29.95, HC, 312pp,

I grew up within a mile of the northern RI French-Canadian village of Albion, whose culture once centered on the textile mill industry alongside the Blackstone River in Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island. A number of my childhood friends' family histories reach back to the immigration of French Canadians from Quebec and the surrounding rural areas to New England. That said, I found this book helpful in gaining appreciation of the forces and dynamics behind French-Canadian heritage in New England, which in early 20th century was considerable.

For readers who ever travel near Woonsocket, RI, I highly recommend visiting Museum of Work and Culture downtown, whose entire focus is on the French-Canadian influx and textile mill village culture 100 plus years ago. It is hard learning about 8 year old girls working 12 hour days 6 days a week, and being subject to the hazards and awful conditions of mill life, being paid a pittance for their work. Mill owners were in cahoots with the priests of the Catholic parishes in "keeping the workers in line" with Sunday sermons preaching obedience to authority at every turn (both church and commercial authority). The book is not entirely well constructed, that is, I like its parts better than its aggregate format. But when taken in chunks (reading parts of it at a sitting) one appreciates the central role of Catholicism and pride in French-Canadian origins among the mill workers. Interestingly enough, over 40% returned home to Canada having soured on American life.

Another interesting aspect is the friction between French-Canadian parishes and Irish Catholic priests who were sometimes appointed to those parishes. The chemistry was really bad, in many cases those priests were reassigned to Irish-Catholic parishes. Originally published in 1986, the author, Gerald J. Brault is/was a Professor French at Penn State University. I would recommend reading this book with the understanding that it is somewhat dry and statistical in places. Likely published as a college level text book, it is unquestionably well documented and scholarly, perhaps, too much so. Including even more excerpts of individual family experiences would bolster the readability of the book, although to the author's credit there are a number of individual family anecdotes already within the text.

I am glad I purchased it. It is sort of a "niche book" focusing on a specific slice of New England culture now well into its third or fourth generation.

American Colossus
H. W. Brands
Anchor Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307386779, $18.95, PB, 704pp,

We often associate the Gilded Age, and the period right before it, with tycoons like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and a few other high rolling filthy rich tycoons. What I really like about this book is the skill in which Professor Brands--who appears at length in the recent Ken Burns' ROOSEVELT SERIES--weaves five or six key elements of late 19th and early 20th century together, as our birth as an fledgling industrialized giant and international power rapidly transformed America in four or five decades. Railroads, corrupt speculation (monetary and stock manipulation), the railroads, the disappearance of Native American tribes, the end of RECONTRUCTION and the onset of JIM CROW down south, immigration, and the labor movement all make appearances in what is truly a fabulous, easily read, well researched, and at the same time complex and heartbreaking story of America as the 20th century loomed ahead of us. Books about the tycoons, like the biographies of Rockefeller and Vanderbilt and so forth all have their place. But we tend to view history as a linear progression (one thing happening, THEN another, THEN another) when in fact a multitude of actions, themes, and emerging cultural phenomena are all going on simultaneously. America was a vibrant, brawling, brash country in the 1890s. The monied class had very little supervision down at the stock market, so they managed to cause two or three depressions and crashes as a result. I like this book a lot. The guy knows what he is talking about. Buy it.

Roderick S. Haynes, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

123 Count With Me: Fun With Numbers and Animals
Sybrina Durant
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511958448, $12.95, 48 pages,

Children will be delighted to find an entertaining way to help learn to count to ten. From page one the beautifully illustrated pictures will call out to your child to want to learn to say their numbers. I found this book to be a wonderful learning tool. I can easily see how it could benefit any child who is in that crucial learning stage of learning how to count.

What I also found unique about this book is not only does it focus on learning to count from one to ten, but it also offers the ability to count backwards from ten to one. As an experienced reviewer of children's books I can attest that this is not the normal thing that you would find in a children's counting book.

Sybrina Durant has done a magnificent job in her creation of 123 COUNT WITH ME: FUN WITH NUMBERS AND ANIMALS. I found that the beautiful pictures made the learning process a complete job. I highly recommend this book to any young person who is embarking on the journey of learning to count.

How To Get A Job In 30 Days Or Less
George Egbuonu
Tres Dimension
Amazon Digital Publishing
9780982609330, $9.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 137 pages,

In today's society there are many people who are unemployed or find themselves in unsatisfying careers. The competition to land an interview or be offered a job is one of life's greatest challenges. You may question how can you prepare yourself to set yourself apart from the competition? Your salvation can be found throughout the pages of this book.

In "How To Get A Job In 30 Days Or Less: Discover Insider Hiring Secrets On Applying & Interviewing For Any Job And Job Getting Tips & Strategies To Find The Job You Desire" you will gain the knowledge and skills that will help you succeed in landing your desired job. This book starts the reader first by putting them in the right frame of mind. It challenges them to start to think of the ideal dream job. Then it proceeds in showing how to create the ideal resume. From there it discusses how a person needs to conduct themselves during the interview process.

What I found so unique is that this book is that it is the total package that educates the reader on the best method to land a job. I feel that it is applied as suggested that a person can very easily find the job they have been seeking.

"How To Get A Job In 30 Days Or Less: Discover Insider Hiring Secrets On Applying & Interviewing For Any Job And Job Getting Tips & Strategies To Find The Job You Desire" is an outstanding book. It overflows with a wealth of priceless knowledge that can greatly enhance anyone's career.

George Egbuonu has masterfully crafted a book that will of great benefit to anyone who is in search of either a job or a career change. Through his writings he has proven that he has done the in-depth research required to create successful topic. I highly recommend this book as a tool that will greatly heighten anyone's career path.

Beyond The Fog: A Journey to Self-Awareness
Ray Ortiz
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519789723, $18.00, 64 pages,

"A person that blames destiny for everything and does nothing himself can never succeed in life." - Anurag Prakash Ray

Life on its best day is filled with emotional up and downs. How we handle each one has an overall impact on our life's destiny. Often we tend to question why we are experiencing unpleasant occurrences in our life. These disturbances come into our world when we least expect it and often leaves behind a great emotional dishevel.

"Beyond The Fog: A Journey to Self-Awareness" provides a spiritual awaking for both the body and soul. From the first page I knew that I was about to embark on a life chancing experience. It was like the words in this book were pouring its healing ointment on my own life.

Ray Ortiz has proven to me that he is expert on the subject of self-motivation. By using his own life changing experiences he has opened up a wealth of knowledge that is assure to have a dramatic impact to any reader who takes the time to read this book.

I highly recommend this book no matter where you may find yourself in your life. I truly felt as I was reading it that it was written for my own life situation. The words filled my mind, body, and soul, and made me see that I am a beautiful person that is deserving of love. To say this book and has made a positive life change to my own life is an understatement.

Light Within Cobblestones (Walk With The Lord Book 1)
Cecile Grace Charles
9781364566708, $24.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 192pp,

As I began to read this book I felt like a spiritual awaking had visited my soul. Throughout the pages this book offers a means to stop, reflect, and learn from the passages that it explores. I was immediately hooked when I read the following passage:

"This book is a also just a little visual reminder that no person is perfect: We are all flawed but still unique, special and beautiful"

I found myself rereading this introduction and applying it to how it fit into my own life's situation. I felt that God was conveying a message that he wanted me to hear. I am a firm believer that books come into a person's life when they need them the most. The emotional impact this book provided to my own life's path was overwhelming.

Cecile Grace Charles has masterfully blended beautiful works of art and intertwined a collection of very powerful spiritual lessons. I found each one was so beautifully written that I felt a closer connection to God. I feel this book has the power to reach deeply into your life and show you the glory life has to offer. As I read each section I found myself experiencing a sense of peace and tranquility. I was very impressed with this book and look forward to seeing more from this talented author.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

Lydia Kang
Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780142423615, $9.99, 394 pages, Trade Paperback,

In the year 2150 genetics is common. While trying to create a more perfect world, there will always be errors. Unfortunately can be people creating "freaks" of nature. Life for these individuals requires them to be hidden away from society. For each of these people, they feel odd, left out.

Zel Benton is one of those people. She has her own physical mutation, Ondine's Curse. Her lungs forget to breathe and she needs to constantly wear a device to assist her to live. Added to that, she is constantly studying molecular biology.

Along with her sister, Dylia, the two leave an isolated life with their main connection to the real world being their father who works long hours. This has been Zel's life for years with the family frequently moving depending on her father's work.

When her father is killed, the two sisters are instantly thrown into a new world. As minors, the sisters find themselves at a place called New Horizons. Micah assures Zel that everything will be fine.

The next morning everything is changed with Dylia and Zel being separated. Dyl is taken and Zel is assigned a new home with a foster mother.

Marka, the foster mother operates a safe house for those with genetic mutations and apparently had worked with Zel's father. Who was her father? What did he really do? Why was he killed? Where is her sister? Will she ever see her sister again? Now that she feels like she is living in this "Land of Misfit Toys", can she ever have a normal life, friends, ...?

Contact is a futuristic novel illustrating our society in a century and a half from now where genetic modifications is common. This is a science fiction book based on the current knowledge of today and is definitely a possibility for the future.

Contact is aimed at a teen-aged audience in this dystopian tale with teen characters and problems. The characters are realistic with hopes and dreams along with a variety of problems with no easy solution and personal regrets. What is unique is how the reader is continually vacillating between protagonist and antagonist based on the action's of each character with constant conflict and action until the last page.

Lydia Kang is a local author, wife, and mother who works as a physician at UNMC. She prides herself with the science in her novels. She has spent extensive time with the experts to ensure that her books are science based, not fantasy.

Contact is a phenomenal debut novel and fortunately has a sequel, Catalyst. This is science fiction for all readers not just teens.

Who wouldn't enjoy reading realistic science fiction? Contact is a true science fiction novel filled with great characters who race to stay alive in this fast-paced page turner.

Lydia Kang
Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780142423615, $9.99, 394 pages, Trade Paperback,

In the year 2150 genetics is common. While trying to create a more perfect world, there will always be errors. Unfortunately can be people creating "freaks" of nature. Life for these individuals requires them to be hidden away from society. For each of these people, they feel odd, left out.

Zel Benton is one of those people. She has her own physical mutation, Ondine's Curse. Her lungs forget to breathe and she needs to constantly wear a device to assist her to live. Added to that, she is constantly studying molecular biology.

Along with her sister, Dylia, the two leave an isolated life with their main connection to the real world being their father who works long hours. This has been Zel's life for years with the family frequently moving depending on her father's work.

When her father is killed, the two sisters are instantly thrown into a new world. As minors, the sisters find themselves at a place called New Horizons. Micah assures Zel that everything will be fine.

The next morning everything is changed with Dylia and Zel being separated. Dyl is taken and Zel is assigned a new home with a foster mother.

Marka, the foster mother operates a safe house for those with genetic mutations and apparently had worked with Zel's father. Who was her father? What did he really do? Why was he killed? Where is her sister? Will she ever see her sister again? Now that she feels like she is living in this "Land of Misfit Toys", can she ever have a normal life, friends, ...?

Control is a futuristic novel illustrating our society in a century and a half from now where genetic modifications is common. This is a science fiction book based on the current knowledge of today and is definitely a possibility for the future.

Control is aimed at a teen-aged audience in this dystopian tale with teen characters and problems. The characters are realistic with hopes and dreams along with a variety of problems with no easy solution and personal regrets. What is unique is how the reader is continually vacillating between protagonist and antagonist based on the action's of each character with constant conflict and action until the last page.

Lydia Kang is a local author, wife, and mother who works as a physician at UNMC. She prides herself with the science in her novels. She has spent extensive time with the experts to ensure that her books are science based, not fantasy.

Control is a phenomenal debut novel and fortunately has a sequel, Catalyst. This is science fiction for all readers not just teens.

Who wouldn't enjoy reading realistic science fiction? Control is a true science fiction novel filled with great characters who race to stay alive in this fast-paced page turner.

The Newsmakers
Lis Wiehl
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718037673, $26.99,

Are news stories ever planned? Can a race to have the "exclusive" story of a disaster be planned to promote a particular broadcasting station or the career of a reporter? When a news crew happens to be at the right place at the right time, can it really be coincidental? Even if this would happen once, could it logically happen twice? Would anyone be suspicious?

How many of us are just pawns in a master scheme?

Erica Sparks is receiving a gift. After driving drunk with her daughter in the car, her life spiraled down. Now she has the chance of a lifetime to redeem her career, her relationship with her daughter, and her one chance for happiness.

As a news reporter, Erica has just been selected by Global News Network in New York as their newest star. The network knows that it needs a new face and a new approach to gain their top place in the ratings. Living in New York has one downside. She must leave her eight-year-old daughter, Jenny in the custody of her ex-husband.

Life is exciting in New York. With this boost to her career and a possibility of a new love life with her boss, this new beginning is just what she needs. Of course, the money, fame and success are unquestionably perks that she is learning to enjoy.

Erica's first assignment is certain to be successful, an interview with Kate Middleton. That interview never happens when Erica witnesses a ferry accident with her camera crew. She has the scoop by being the first to report the story. Her journalistic value though make her want closure, discovering the cause of the accident. However, the station wants her to focus on other stories. Why? Don't they see the value in closure? Wouldn't her investigation improve ratings more than another story?

The Newsmakers is a collaborative novel by two well-known authors Liz Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart. Sebastian Stuart is also an author who has written numerous novels, plays and screenplays. Liz Wiehl is a Harvard Law School graduate who worked as a former federal prosecutor. She is a legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel while also hosting her own weekly radio shows.

The Newsmakers is a riveting story in the world of journalism at a news station showing their day-to-day lives with realistic characters who view their co-workers as competition. The conflict of loyalty to the station and staff as opposed to self-preservation and self-promotion is frighteningly authentic. The pace is racing in this page-turner with flawed characters who are believable. The reader is with Erica every step of the way as she discovers her dream career and the actual costs to her personal self.

Losing Faith
Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476764245, $26.00, 368 pages, Hardcover,

"It is common narcissism that people view their lives like novels in which they are the protagonist. It's a comforting thought, because it means that even when the story twists and all looks lost, there remains the unshakeable belief that a happy ending awaits."

When a federal judge is beaten to death, the most likely suspect is Aaron Littman, the chairman of a prestigious New York City law firm. He is guilty of many things, but he probably did not kill the judge. Unfortunately, even if he is found not guilty, he will probably lose his wife and his career even if he wins his freedom.

For his defense, his mentor and colleague, Sam Rosenthal has the task of finding the real murderer, or minimally showing that there are others who could be guilty of this crime.

The characters are believable, flawed but logical in their actions. The pace is racing to the last page. The story is well-organized and developed page-by-page relying on a setting that perfectly fits.

One of the positive aspects of Losing Faith is the realism. The inside view of the legal system is astounding, as well as frightening to those who have never needed a criminal lawyer.

Another special gift in this thriller are the authentic life lessons regarding justice in this country.

"There's one thing I never say to my clients: that I'm with them all the way. The reason I don't is that I know it's just not true. The truth is I'm with them until prison...and then, that's something they have to do on their own...And whether or not I was innocent or guilty wouldn't be the only consideration, because the sad truth in that innocent men do get convicted."

This short paragraph quickly strips all the television programs and novels of idealism, stating the reality of life.

Many of these lessons are hidden within the action of the story but are lessons everyone should know.

"Trials aren't about the truth. They're about winning."

"One thing that Faith learned early on as a lawyer was that there is no such thing as good and bad people. There are just people, who sometimes do good things and other times do bad things, and the idea that the guilty are punished is just something that people say; it isn't even remotely true."

The author, Adam Mitzner is and experienced defense attorney in New York City. This is his third attorney novel with high action and revelations inside the justice system.

Losing Faith is an enthralling journey into the world of those who need a defense attorney. This novel if for anyone who hopes they will never need the lessons learned in this thriller.

The Wrong Man
Kate White
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062350657, $15.99, 322 pages, Trade Paperback,

Kit Turner wants more in life. She wants excitement. She longs for more. Then again, who doesn't?

As co-owner in a Manhattan interior design firm, Kit always searches for new ideas in attempting to best meet her client's needs. She has pride in meeting the needs of her clients and feels that she knows how to perfectly match the interior furnishings and decorations with the personality of her client while staying within a budget.

Her priorities for the last few years have always been business. It takes time, talent and dedication to become a successful interior design company in a business with immense competition.

She dreams of a more fulfilling personal life. So why not take chance? What does she have to loose? Isn't it time for her to have a little fun with having a personal life?

While at her hotel on a vacation at the Florida Keys, she meets the possible man-of-her-dreams. With plans to continue their relationship back in New York, Kit is full of hope. After all, with the perfect man, what could go wrong?

Still hoping for the best, Kit agrees to visit him at his apartment in New York.

However the man who lives here is not the man she was with in Florida. Quickly Kit is catapulted into a life of adventure, treachery, deceit. She learns that her life is definitely more interesting but also extremely dangerous/ With one misstep resulting in death, Kit fears for herself, her friends, acquaintances, and clients.

What happened to the man of her dreams? Who is this man? Why is it that the more questions she asks, the more people who are in danger of losing their lives?

Will she discover the truth and/or love before another death, or her death?

The protagonist Kit Turner is a character that is heroic while still being a realistic person. While searching for the identity of the antagonist, Kit discovers a maze of twists and turns. Fortunately she takes the reader along with her at every discovery, wrong move, misdirection and clue until the last page. This aspect weaves a fast-paced racing thriller leading the reader down the road while holding the hand of the protagonist every step.

Well-written, logical, organized, The Wrong Man is a gripping tale the delights all readers, even though the intended audience is for women.

Kate White has been the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for the last fourteen years. Besides that, she is a New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including six Bailey Weggins mysteries as well as three suspense novels, Eyes on You, The Sixes, and Hush. Also she is the editor of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.

The Wrong Man is a chilling read that warms every reader on a cold winter's night.

The Bone Labyrinth: A Sigma Force Novel
James Rollins
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062381644, $27.99, 496 pages, Hardcover,

Baako is a young gorilla being raised by Dr. Maria Crandall. She is "Mama" to the isolated creature. Along with her twin sister, Lena, the two are pursuing the quest to discover a genetic advancement in human intelligence.

Who would attack a primate research center near Atlanta, Georgia kidnapping a gorilla, his handler and his mama, better known as head researcher?

Taking some pieces of well-known facts to create an action/adventure novel which provokes further research and thinking is what master storyteller James Rollins has again accomplished in his latest novel, The Bone Labyrinth. Along this reading journey is a page-turning education with the members of Sigma Force from nine previous Rollins' novels featuring Gray, Monk, Kim, Seichan, Kowalski and Kat. The author relies on the reader knowing the characters from the previous novels and spends the time on plot rather than character development while the story travels around the world from Atlanta, Georgia to China to Croatia to Ecuador Why would governments be investing their time and money into archeology and anthropology? What is the significance of the numbers 37 and 73 except that they are mirror images of each other? Why was Neil Armstrong involved in an expedition to Ecuador in the mid-1970s? Why did the Great Leap Forward happen years ago advancing the intelligence of humankind? Can the Great Leap Forward be reproduced to currently enhance society today? Could a new Great Leap Forward change human DNA? What can be learned from Neanderthals, hominids and primates that could affect a Great Leap Forward? Which countries could be involved with research into changing DNA to pursue a new Great Leap Forward? Who were Father Athanasius Kircher and Father Carlos Crespi and what did they learn in their years of study? Could the moon be the product of some intelligent design? Why were two minutes missing in the transmission from the original moon landing? Where was Atlantis? What do we really know about Atlantis? All of these are combined into one enthralling thriller that is amazingly well-organized into one logical and memorable adventure.

Although this is one of my favorite Rollins' novels, I would not recommend this to someone not acquainted with the Sigma Force characters. This is James Rollins back to his old formula for a phenomenal thriller. .

Like other novels in this series, James Rollins includes notes separating the facts from his fictional tale along with drawings and maps throughout this novel.

The Bone Labyrinth combines great storytelling with real research, mysteries of the world, scientific genetic advances, historical explorations, respect of other cultures and morality into a fast-paced novel that makes the reader stop and think.

Who would enjoy The Bone Labyrinth? Anyone who enjoyed Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code would be delighted reading this latest Rollins' novel.

Teri Davis

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design