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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 7 July 2014 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Buhle's Bookshelf Drazin's Bookshelf
Gail's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf
Susan's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Past
Marwane Caber
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781499669756, $8.99 Paperback, 122 Pages
B00KJECVM, $6.99 Kindle, 82 Pages,

Cheri Clay

"Our vision and approach to life determines our level of happiness or unhappiness." Think about that- with so much power in such a simple quote and yet this is just a small portion of what is to be gained from this ebook. We the readers become students under Caber's remarkable guidance as he helps us learn how to overcome the pitfalls of depression by living in past memories that cause sadness and learn to live in the happiness of life.

Caber takes us through his own life experience which that in itself makes him qualified but he doesn't stop there. He not only has turned his own life from negative to positive but has been effective in teaching others what he has been able to overcome.

Concise but extremely powerful there is so much wisdom to be gained in such a small book. Extremely thought provoking this is not to be read once and put away especially if you are someone who suffers from depression, as we all do from time to time, as there is more to be gained using this book as a guidebook for life than just a simple read. But don't be fooled this is an extremely deep subject and this is not your ordinary self-help book. But under Caber's expert guidance he makes it simple for anyone to be able to understand and apply the concepts to their own life.

Not only would I recommend this book for anyone who suffers from occasional depression or even long term debilitating depression but also to be used as a textbook into the human mind and the role depression can play in our lives and how we ourselves can turn sadness into happiness no matter the circumstances.

Hand In Glove
Paddy Bostock
Wings ePress
B00IDHHJ7O, $4.69

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

When Murder is Humorous - A review of the novel 'Hand In Glove'

"This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last" - Oscar Wilde

Private investigators and the field of PI work have long held our fascination. So much so that they have become an intrinsic part of everyday fiction through radio programs, suspense and thriller novels and of course film and television shows, where a PI brought in from outside solves the mystery and thereby saving the day, has become the most dependable and staple plot line of all such shows. And when you are talking about private investigators how can you not mention the most famous of them all, I'm talking about the iconic Sherlock Holmes himself.

And t-hanks to such novels, movies and television shows, people can immediately summon up a mental image of a PI when they hear about one. And the one you are most likely to have is the image of the stereotypical private investigator. One who operates out of a single room, a dim lit office in a shady area of the town, an office cluttered with files and paperwork with the lone PI sitting back in a rickety old chair with a lit pipe sticking out the corner of his mouth and blowing slow smoky circles of intense puffs, greeting the unsure and nervous clients with overzealous secretive ambience.

If that is the perception you've been carrying around, then get ready to chuck it out and embrace the new generation PI's.

In author Paddy Bostock's latest novel Hand In Glove, PI's Dr Jake Flintlock and his sidekick Dr Bum Park are wealthy and live in high end homes and lead a very affluent life when not taking on investigative assignments. Their blissful to the account of almost dreary lives change the day Binkey, Jake's dog discovers a severed hand inside a baseball mitt. Which then soon leads to the murder of an American, Chuck Cinzano at Jake's house at Primrose Hill, London; who apart from being a lot of other things was also the bloke whose game of baseball with his friends was disrupted by Binkey when he found the severed hand. And in light of the clues and revelations that reveal themselves in the aftermath of Chuck's 'murder', Jake & Bum take on this apparent 'murder' case which takes them on a whirl-winding trip all the way to California, where Jake and Bum soon begin to suspect that everything isn't as obvious as it seems on the surface. The rest of this story focuses on how they manage to overcome the many hurdles to find the real culprit.

Hand In Glove is unlike any other novel in its genre out there, with enough satire and madcap madness and mayhem to satisfy the attention span of even a first time reader. There are questionable dead bodies, scorned ex-lovers, dubious alliances, the ever lingering sexual tension between the unlikeliest of pairs and the staunchest of loyalty that you can find between the two lead pairs in any sort of fiction. Jake and Bum may be an odd couple but they share some great chemistry and work very well in tandem to the flow of the story. The nasty cynical humour in it, the very colourful language a character like Dr Bum Park uses and the subtle references and gentle nods to other great pieces of fiction over the years are all what makes Hand In Glove a real gem in the list of its contemporaries.

If you like gritty natty thrillers that are narrated by a very intelligent and knowledgeable voice with well drawn out and colourful characters, a story that grabs you by the collar in the first few pages itself and doesn't let go until the end, then this compelling suspense mystery thriller with more than a good dollops of witty English humour is the perfect choice for you. To use a baseball analogy as it is in the midst of a baseball game that it all starts; Paddy Bostock has hit one right out of the park with this novel, a definite homerun. It's written in a pacy narrative that travels at just the right speed letting you soak in all the madness in this thriller. I wonder if anyone will be able to forget Binkey, Stormin Normin and Kyorugi Joonbi even after turning over the last page, to find out who or what they are, you have to go and purchase Paddy Bostock's Hand In Glove.

There is one warning though that I have to issue, the moment you are done with Hand In Glove, you may feel this irresistible urge to run right out to buy another one of the Paddy's books and immediately start to read it. Why? Read Hand In Glove and you'll find out soon enough!

Blue Nights
Joan Didion
Vintage Books
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019
9780307387387, $15.00,

Krystal Sierra

You're dreaming, then you wake. You hear birds outside your window, a chirping. You sense the morning's yellow light, a gentle filling of your room. You remember your body. Then you remember you buried your child, and the body you have, this body, feels heavy, weighed down even by a hand.

For a second, it could've been yesterday or it could've been seven years ago. The point is that the death feels as if it were today. You open your eyes. Today began as neither good nor bad, but today has become the day you will grieve.

Joan Didion, author of We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live and A Year of Magical Thinking, shares her grief in the 2011 novel Blue Nights. She addresses the evening and, later, the day of grief.

We find Didion thinking of Quintana Roo Dunne on Quintana's seven-year marriage anniversary, five years after Quintana's death. She remembers the flower braided into Quintana's hair, a tattoo peaking out from under Quintana's veil, little girls playing together in little white dresses.

The flower braided into Quintana's hair is a stephanotis. It is not random. The stephanotis reminds Didion of a time when Quintana was a girl and Didion had a garden in which the flower grew. The veil. The tattoo. Little girls in dresses and shoes, shoes Quintana did not want the girls to wear, Quintana's desire for those girls to be bare footed on her wedding day being unheard - Didion follows these images down like sand in an hourglass.

Time looses its rigidity. Like a familiar stone, every memory Didion has of her life with Quintana, and after Quintana too, reminds her of something else. The beginning and end of these memories are nonexistent. For Didion, they lie on top of one another. Didion's love fuses them together, and either Blue Nights is a pulling apart of these memories or a holding together of them. Blue Nights is the vehicle.

Didion explores the passage of time byway of photographs and mementos she sorts. Didion finds scraps of scraps of handed-down fabric belonging to a great grandmother alongside a jacket given to Quintana by the mother of Quintana's first boyfriend. It's as if Didion becomes the closet in which all generations and all time come together, as if the novel itself is a mirror image of Didion and of what a writer strives towards. Ever present, they seem to vanish.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres
Vintage Classics
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780099540861, $23.99,

Paul Binford, Reviewer

On page one of "Captain Correlli's Mandolin," the reader is introduced to the Greek island of Cephalllonia by a series of charming characters, described by de Bernieres in a stylish blend of pathos and humor. We first learn about Dr. Iatre Iannis, doing the best he can with limited access to medical supplies, curing the various ailments of the locals. Meanwhile, he's stuck in the writing of "The New History of Cephallonia," a book full of "loaded adjectives and ancient historical grudges." Then we meet his daughter, Pelagia, young and beautiful, in love with Mandras, an illiterate fisherman.

The giant, Velisarios, bills himself as the strongest man in the world. He carries around a small cannon and fires it off at Saint's days and festivals, accidentally injuring Mandras, thereby giving the fisherman an excuse to hang about the doctor's house and court Pelagia. There follows Kokolios, a communist who argues politics and economics with Dr. Iannis in the kapheneion, the all-male club in the town center. The general picture one gets of Cephallonia is of a tranquil, idyllic shangri-la.

It is pre-WWII. Things change when the Italians arrive to occupy the island. The duty is handed over to the Acqui Division, in which Captain Corelli is the commander of an artillery battalion. Corelli's main interest is music; most of his time is spent with an opera-singing group he's put together called La Scalla. It's predictable that the residents of the island in the Ionian Sea will resist the occupation, up to a point. By and by, there is a friendly accommodation between the two groups.

In addition to "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," de Bernieres has written six novels and several collections of short stories. The British novelist has been awarded a number of literary prizes, including the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Novel, for "Captain Correlli's Mandolin" in 1995. Readers familiar with the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez might recognize the influence of magical realism on de Bernieres. In fact, he describes himself as a "Marquez parasite."

At some point in the war, Hitler begins to mistrust the italians and sends a division of well-armed Germans to Cephallonia. When Mussolini is overthrown, the two forces are in a quandary. The Italians expect to be repatriated to Italy. Instead, one of the worst atrocities of the war is committed. It is difficult for me to write about this episode; it is arguably the most tragic and senseless act of mass murder committed during the entire war. I will leave it up to the reader to learn the awful details. I checked on the historical accuracy, and it actually occurred the way de Bernieres described it.

Before that however, Pelagia and Corelli fall in love. What happened to the fisherman, Mandras? Early on, he decided to join a communist resistance outfit called ELAS, in order to have "done something important, something great, something I can live with." Pelagias's thoughts, on Mandras's announcement that he will be marching off to war, are this: "He seemed suddenly to have become a dream-creature of frightening and infinite fragility, something too exquisite and ephemeral to be human." She tries to maintain their relationship by way of letters, which she writes regularly and sends to the front. Her letters are never answered, leaving her free to follow up on the love she feels for Captain Correlli.

When Mandras suddenly reappears, Pelagia forces an explanation. "You never wrote to me," she said. "I can't write," he answered. "Couldn't someone else have written for you?" Mandras replied: "I couldn't dictate to a comrade. How could I let everybody know? How could I have my feelings discussed by the boys?"

The book is an epochal tale, similar to "One Hundred Years of Solitude" in its scale. From the thirties, through the war, and on through the massive earthquake that struck the Ionian Sea in 1953, it ends with the Germans returning to Cephallonia as tourists.

I am interested in reading one of his other novels, "The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman." The title implies a religious motif, which is a frequent addition to the tale of the Cephallonians. They indulge themselves in a curious mixture of Catholicism, local superstitions, and some remnants of ancient Greek mythology.

This is a book for music buffs, readers interested in history, those who like to travel, with a humorous edge along with a healthy dose of romance. Captain Correlli provides a discourse on the intricacies of the mandolin, informing the reader of tremolando scales, meanwhile explaining "How like a Woman is a Mandolin." Something for everyone.

Adventures with Dad
Lee Gale Gruen
Author Mike Ink
P.O. Box 131, Wilbraham, MA 01095-0131
9780988446830, $17.99 (paperback), 292 pages,

Roger Trammell, Reviewer
Author of "The Dream Weaver's Daughter" and "Sockey"

"Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter's Journey Through a Senior Acting Class" is an account of Lee Gale Gruen's rocky relationship with her father that became more positive and intimate because of their connection through a senior acting class. It contains a number of scenes that she penned and performed with him based on real life incidents. The prose is excellent and the story is touching with elements of humor...a must-read!

I Am Your Mirror: Mirror Neurons and Empathy
Matteo Rizzato & Davide Donelli
Blossoming Books
Isabella Michon
9788897951216, $14.99 (PB), $7.69 (Kindle), 122pp.,

Lisa Bower, Reviewer
Foreword Magazine: Spring Issue 2014

Science, psychology, and sociology merge to explain the theory of the biology of empathy.

Who hasn't watched someone laugh and felt the need to laugh? People often mirror one another's emotions. Matteo Rizzato and Davide Donelli's book, "I Am Your Mirror", explains how mirror neurons work. If people are more aware of their influence, they could become more positive, unite humankind, and build a brighter world.

Using layman's terms, Rizzato and Donelli are able to break down mirror neurons in easy-to-understand language. At their most basic, the brain's mirror neurons respond to all emotion: both one's own emotions and those of the people around them. Seeing people yawn makes another person yawn in return. Everyone is a mirror. This means that individuals have a lot of power and influence on their environment, whether school, work, or a public place. Someone who leaves the house depressed and angry could poison a community.

The authors divide the book into four main chapters. The first section dives into mirror neuron science. Next, it is time for people to reflect on their experiences, own expressions, and the history of imitation. The third section discusses observation and group dynamics, and the final chapter dives into the nuances of sincerity and genuine emotion. Diagrams and illustrations back up key concepts. For example, the authors explain mass production processes by showing a cartoon of a boy identifying a doughnut (the stimulus), processing this data, and producing a related action (i.e. eating the doughnut). This makes it easy to understand how the brain deciphers information.

These key concepts not only help people to form meaningful relationships but also to succeed at work. For example, a cashier's expressions and sincerity can translate to good business or a poor image. Rizzato and Donelli write how sales staff, receptionist, or cashiers are the "best advert" for a business because they "offer an opportunity to reach a state of mind." Positivity breeds positivity. Customers are negatively affected by unmotivated staff, which is why businesses need to focus on morale in hiring.

A person's state of mind affects everyone around them. This book helps people better understand their emotions, which builds community and quality of life. Unspoken emotions and our actions unite and inspire the people around us. The future of human relations rests on a better understanding of the rapid-fire contagion of mirror neurons.

Edge of Nowhere
John Smelcer
Leapfrog Press LLC
PO Box 505 Fredonia, NY, 14063
9781935248576, $9.99

K.R. Copeland, Reviewer

First published in 2010 by Andersen Press Limited, London, UK, John Smelcer's latest YA novel, Edge of Nowhere, is a riveting, picturesque, trial-to-triumph tale. Set amongst a breathtaking backdrop of cloud-enshrouded mountains and tumultuous sea, Smelcer encapsulates the Alaskan landscape with the sheer authenticity only a Native could deliver.

The characters are well-drawn and accessible, and it is obvious, early on, that the Edge of Nowhere's main character, 16 year old, Seth Evanoff, is the quintessential, Huck Finn-ish hero. He is your son, your brother, your student, your friend. He is the guy you root for against all odds. And the odds are most certainly stacked against him.

After being swept from the deck of his father's boat, one night, by a gigantic wave, both boy and dog begin their grueling battle for survival. From the choppy, frigid waters, to the rugged, sweltering island terrain, to their run-ins with bears, whales, and even a cave of human remains, Seth stays strong for himself, as well as his dog, Tucker, and resolves to do whatever necessary to survive, including succumbing to an unsavory diet of raw salmon, mussels and sea slugs.

Smelcer's interweaving of Alaska Native language, legend, anecdotal folklore, as well as local history, throughout, makes not only for an engaging, but also, a highly informative read.

By way of remarkably poetic storytelling, Smelcer draws a flawless parallel between the unrelenting strength of nature and the indefatigable determination of the human spirit. Edge of Nowhere, which was adapted from a true story, is yet another gripping literary triumph for Smelcer, which transcends both gender and generations, and is far more than worthy of all the praise it is positive to garner.

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
Ruth Hull Chatlien
Amika Press
53 W. Jackson Blvd., #660, Chicago, IL 60604
9781937484163, $17.95, 484 pages

Erin Al-Mehairi

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, by Ruth Hull Chatlien, was a wonderfully enlightening read about a woman I knew little about--an American woman from Baltimore society that married Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother. The title really does say it all, as Betsy Patterson, a young woman who always dreamed of marrying into high society of Europe's elite, doesn't take any stops on her way of making a name for herself and enjoying life at French court.

However, even when most of it doesn't work out to be pretty as a picture for her, we can admire her strength, motivation, perseverance, independence, and ingenuity. Betsy Bonaparte is thrilling to me. I admire a woman who goes after what she wants at all cost and doesn't settle for what anyone tells her she should be content with. Of course, as this is based on a true story, I really admire the research that Chatlien put into this historical woman. It's wonderful that she brought Betsy to light for readers to know more of her story. Her life was such a struggle to be recognized, respected, and known that I think it's fitting that her story be brought to the limelight through such a well-written book.

It must have been quite the experience to live among and with such extravagant and incorrigible personalities as the Bonaparte family possessed. Maybe some people would see Betsy Bonaparte as overbearing or aggressive or selfish even, but Chatlien did a wonderful job of showcasing a well-rounded side of her and allowing her to be known for her amazing ability to "stay her course."

That said, Chatlien did a superb job of character development with Betsy Bonaparte as well as the whole other cast of historical characters. Her 19th Century details were delicious and I enjoyed reading about the fashion and visually imagining the scenes Chatlien set so vividly for the reader.

The story is fast-moving, well-written, structured succinctly, suspenseful, and engaging. Reading about the Napoleonic era is always thrilling, but reading about an American of the time caught up in their drama is quite an original learning experience. I feel that Chatlien teaches us educationally and historically while at the same time creating a story that gives it its fiction genre designation. It's a story with impact and it flows through all the tumultuous times with a fervor and a seamless quality.

I highly recommend this book as a wonderful historical read, which like a fine art painting, will be an asset to your shelf of favorite French book collections. Such an amazing book rich with details and another to add to the list of book that speak to the amazing, almost forgotten women of the past.

Imperfect Acts
Peter Shianna
The Red Oak Readers Press
P.O. Box 2155, Lady Lake, FL 32158-2155
9780615923277, $13.00 (TPB), $3.99 (Kindle),

Mark H. Newhouse, Reviewer
Host of Author's Beat

Fiction, Literary

The results of a man witnessing a brutal murder would make for a great mystery plot, but Peter Shianna has given his readers so much more in this short, fast-moving book. The hero is a teen boy who has sworn to become a Catholic priest, but must confront all of his beliefs and ideals when his father witnesses a horrific murder.

Everything is open to question, and that is what makes this economically written book so fascinating to me. Not only has Mr. Shianna crafted a well thought out plot and a terrifying resolution, he has raised questions that even us non-Catholics must face at some point in our lives, questions about what we would do if those we love and care for are threatened by others. We all face decisions of how far we would go to protect our loved ones: Should we own guns? Could we use violence if faced by such threats? Some may not be satisfied with his answers, but after all, aren't we all "Imperfect Acts"?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe most readers will too. I do warn you that some will not enjoy the necessary violence, but this book is for thinking adults and not children.

The River Way Home
Mary. E. Dawson
AQ Press
P.O. Box 1517, Palm City, FL 34991
9780991518418; $19.95 (paperback); $4.99 (Kindle), 338pp

Glen Marcus, Reviewer
Magnolia Blossom Review

Synopsis: ALLIGATORS, OUTLAWS, AND TOURISTS? It's 1914, and Florida's last frontier is coming of age. A young Cracker who yearns to become a Florida cow hunter, a Seminole who sees his way of life disappearing, and an educated African-American girl who is looking for a better future lose their boat on Lake Okeechobee and are stranded in the wild and mysterious Florida Jungle. When outlaws block the only road back, they have to find a new way home. How will they survive and who will they be when they get there? WITH A SECTION OF OLD PHOTOS AND SHORT HISTORICAL ESSAYS AT THE END, "The River Way Home" is historical fiction full of action, humor, and conflicts that remain contemporary today. It's a classic tale of friendship and coming-of-age that will take you back in time to your childhood favorites.

Review: Some might compare "The River Way Home: The Adventures of the Cowboy, the Indian, & the Amazon Queen" to Mark Twain's 'Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn', and rightly so. Young characters, caught up in mischievous acts in the turn-of-the-century south. But it is more of a history lesson, with endearing and well-written characters to carry us on a wonderful journey.

The strong-willed, inquisitive Queenie, the "fish boy" Billy, who yearns to be a cowboy and a young Seminole, called Chief lead the reader on a quest. And though the book only covers a few days in their lives, it's enough adventure to last a lifetime. Readers from middle school age and up should enjoy this fast-moving tale

Being billed as a story of adventures, this book does not disappoint. The descriptions of the storm, the alligator attack, the wetlands and swamps, the night in the tree, the train, and even the fishing trip are wonderful snippets of the times gone by. Toss in an outlaw such as John Ashley that has to be dealt with, and the intrigue level peaks throughout. The pages flew by, as a good book most properly should. Fine writing at its best.

Ms. Dawson definitely did her homework. I would recommend this story to be used as a textbook in all Florida history classes. If the "devil is in the details," as they say, this book hits the bull's-eye.

I enjoyed reading about this time in Florida's history. While the characters made the book come alive, I gleaned more than just an adolescent thrill ride or a 'coming of age' story. I almost felt as if at times I was there amidst the characters, soaking up the lush surroundings. By far, one of the best history lessons I have ever had the privilege of taking.

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Infantry Adventures of Sgt William G. Altenhofen
Sgt. William G. Altenhofen
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781490720678 $14.99

The Infantry Adventures of Sgt William G. Altenhofen is the military memoir of a retired sergeant who, during his military career, struggled with mental health difficulties even as he shouldered leadership responsibilities. Altenhofen earned the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and other honorable recognitions during his lengthy army career, which stationed him in multiple locations across the globe, including Vietnam during the war. The Infantry Adventures of Sgt William G. Altenhofen is not only a story of military struggles and combat conditions, but also the harrowing day-to-day realities of life as an infantryman, and especially the blunt, sometimes confused and self-contradictory ways in which the military handled mental health issues. The mishandling of veterans' needs is hardly a new phenomenon, but The Infantry Adventures of Sgt William G. Altenhofen is especially recommended as a firsthand testimony of recurring and ongoing challenges, as well as a fascinating true-life story of dedicated service. "The army had cut basic training from eight weeks to seven weeks and four days in an effort to save money. It was an experiment. In order to make it work, all the test and evaluation stations for basic training posts went along with the twenty no-go maximum. After twenty people failed on a station, all the rest of the people were passed whether they really passed or not. That was why I would get men in the unit who did not know how to use their weapons."

Dogs Don't Look Both Ways
Jane Hanser
Ivy Books
9780991514908 $12.99

Dogs Don't Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences is based on the personal memories of a husband, wife, and their beloved chocolate Labrador Joey; some names have been changed to protect individual privacy, and the colorful storytelling might best be dubbed "reality-based fiction". The exuberant, loving and trusting personality of Joey shines through, as Dogs Don't Look Both Ways is narrated from his canine perspective. Dog lovers everywhere will see a little bit of Joey in their own pets and their daily lives, in this wonderful and heartfelt reminiscence.

Willis M. Buhle

Drazin's Bookshelf

Hell Hole
Ken Farmer
Timber Creek Press
9780991239047, $14.39, 337pp,

Ken Farmer's books, their plots, people, suspense, humor, the colorful western language in his western books, and the characters acting in it are delightful. It is no surprise that the books are so popular. He and Buck Stienke wrote eight books together, six are military action thrillers and two historical western fictions. Farmer wrote this third western alone. It will be followed by another western, Devil's Canyon, which Stienke wrote alone. Hell Hole follows The Nations and Haunted Falls, and has the same main hero, Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves; but readers who did not read The Nations and Haunted Falls will be able to follow the plot and drama in this novel and enjoy it because it is a totally new adventure.

In this tale, Judge Isaac Parker assigns Bass Reeves and his partner Jack McGann to capture the notorious outlaw Felix Griffin, the leader of a band of killers. The Griffin gang is hiding out in Catanoosa, known as the Hell Hole, a small town filled with dangerous outlaws, men with no scruples. It seems impossible for any lawman to enter the town, but Bass is determined to do so. We read about what he does along with several other adventures he and his friends have during the manhunt.

Farmer is very careful in presenting as many facts as possible. Six foot two Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves (1838-1910), the bigger than life hero of these tales, actually lived. It is said that his exploits inspired the story of the Lone Ranger. He worked for Judge Isaac Parker (1838-1896), known as the Hanging Judge, who was the judge in the western district of Arkansas for 21 years. Bass heroically brought many criminals to the judge.

Devil's Canyon
Buck Stienke
Timber Creek Press
9780991239085, $15.49, 382pp,

This is a superb engrossing novel about the civil war from a southern perspective by an author who knows the military and war and is able to write very well. Both skills enhance this novel. Stienke was a fighter pilot in the US Air Force and has an extensive background in military aviation and weaponry. The protagonist of this tale, Eric Schmidt is from Texas where he aided his father in manufacturing guns. Stienke is also from Texas, owns a Shooting Supply store and like Eric has a vast knowledge of weapons, tactics, and survival techniques, which Eric uses repeatedly in this tale. Stienke authored eight other widely acclaimed novels, seven of which he wrote with Ken Farmer. His portrayal of Eric and how he reacts to various situations that would have overwhelmed and crushed an average man is excellent. I enjoyed the novel from page one to 382.

It is March 1862 in a Texas farm. Eric is a tall, strong, and handsome youth, part of a devoted family who taught him many skills. He is fearless and has an uncanny ability to size up situations, decide what must be done, and does it. While Eric is in town on an errand, his family farm is attacked by vicious Union forces determined to steal food and other goods. When Eric returns he discovers the brutal murder of his parents and sixteen year old sister, after his sister, who had just become engaged, was raped. Eric is devastated but determined to make the marauders pay. He pursues them.

After this adventure, he is offered a position in the Confederate cavalry, which he accepts.

I can see that this book can easily become a best-seller. Readers will identify with Eric and enjoy reading his adventures.

Dr. Israel Drazin, Reviewer

Gail's Bookshelf

Rise: 32 Weeks of Inspiring Devotions to Fuel Your First Year of College
Christi Brooks
Chaplain Publishing
3104 County Road 7520, Lubbock, TX 79423
9781941549018, $10.99,

As school draws to a close and summer begins college bound students prepare to enter the adult world away from family and friends in the fall. staff writer, Hannah Purnell penned Ten Things Every College Student Should Know in their freshman year from an academic perspective.

It's also a season church family's "wrap their arms around high-school graduates one last time before they're sent off to face the future," writes compiler Christi Brooks. She invited authors to "put fingers to keyboards" with words of wisdom and encouragement for "high school graduates they will never meet," written from a Christian perspective.

Among them were three authors from Washington State, Bronwyn Worthington, Spokane, Heather Alexander, Olympia and Lydia Harris from Seattle who have one or more devotions in

Rise: 32 Weeks of College Devotions.

One of Bronwyn's devotions features the blessings of friendship developed and refined through shared challenges, successes and failures of college life. Such close friendships, she writes, equip students to share in and carry one another's burdens like Galatians 6:2 advises. Whether studying for tests, struggling with depression over the loss of a relationship or helping a friend recover friendships deepen and strengthen as "the cup of suffering" is shared.

Heather's devotion, "Sweet Selfishness," made me pause until I understood she meant for college students to "focus on God's plan for their lives," and not to be enticed by friends distractions and suggested detours. That's one of the rare instances selfishness is a good attribute. Instead she encourages undergrads to stay focused on the Lord and His plan for your life. Proverbs 3: 5-6.

Lydia's "College Game Plan," based on Jeremiah 33:3 is useful and appropriate for

undergraduates. "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

She begins with, "Study as if you didn't pray, and pray as if you didn't study." She found that "winning combination" prepared her to become an honors graduate with advanced degrees. Her "tip sheet" for before, during and after exams along with prayer suggestions for study times is simple and easy to implement.

An author's index and author biographies complete the book I consider to be a ten on a scale of one to ten.

If you'd like to connect with or ask questions of the authors connect with them on FaceBook

Dad Time: Savoring the God-Given Moments of Fatherhood
Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson Publishers
2014, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9780529111661, $12.99,

Max Lucado, popular pastor speaker and best-selling inspirational author's first book on fatherhood arrives just in time to celebrate Father's Day. The small gift size book draws on Lucado's personal memories and his vast collection of writings to illustrate lessons he learned as a father and lessons he learned from his own father.

Titled Dad Time, "Savoring the God-Given Moments of Fatherhood," Lucado explores with his typical transparency "what it means to be a father who loves God and loves his family." In pages overflowing with inspirational quotes, perceptive scriptures and heartfelt stories he portrays what it's like to be a father.

He captures the moment he felt the full force of fatherhood when he realized he and his wife Denalyn were "in charge of a human being" named Jenna as he assumed the complete care of Jenna while Denalyn rested from C-section surgery. Perhaps that was the first time he recognized the responsibility of leading "by example and sowing eternal seeds" into Jenna's life.

Over in the ensuing years Lucado would learn "children are like wet cement. What is modeled for them imprints their character." Knowing how he acted as a father would forever impact and influence Jenna's life for eternity was a sobering thought. However, even with all the problems and pitfalls of raising a child Lucado also knew there was "no greater privilege" than to be a father.

Just as an anonymous quote summed up what Lucado thought about his own father, "The greatest gift I ever had came from God; I call him Dad!" he wanted Jenna and any future children to feel the same way about him. From what I've read about Lucado's life, his daughters feel their dad is God's gift to them.

Lucado's timeless message on fatherhood is an excellent choice for Father's day, birthdays or for sharing paternal feelings with a loved one you look on as a father.

Hacker, Outlaw Chronicles #3
Ted Dekker
Worthy Publishing
134 Frankline Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
9781617952753, $14.99,

Ted Dekker explores the power of faith, identity and the unseen in Hacker, the latest action packed episode in the "Outlaw Chronicles" series releasing June 10, this time delivered with a dash of science fiction. It's also a story of cybercrime, neuroscience and seventeen-year-old hacker extraordinaire, Nyah Parks.

Nyah felt like a "freak" because she was different and didn't fit in. Although she could have "aced" high school by age eight her parents wanted her to "mature a bit before walking into the ivory halls of higher education" so she graduated at age twelve instead. Then whipped through college by age fifteen with a double major in computer science and mathematics that forecast a bright future ahead since computer programming was her "native tongue."

Then twenty-three-year-old Harlan Schmitt ran a red light "broadsided her family's minivan going eighty-three-miles-her-hour" and life went what seventeen-year-old Nyah would soon call "sideways." The accident claimed the lives of her father, little brother and hospitalized her mother with "severe brain trauma." Just when Nyah believed things couldn't get worse the doctors said her mother's brain was dying and she had three months to live.

When Nyah learns of an expensive experimental drug that could help she devises a clever scheme to break into a corporation's computer security to prove how much they needed to hire her. Her price? $250,000, enough to pay for the drug.

Nyah couldn't know she would find "close-up photographs of dead bodies and charred buildings and smoldering cars and a congressman who died in an embassy bombing" during the hack. Or that she would become the new target of a hit man hired by the CEO and founder of the corporation and the seat-of-your-pants- chase begins.

Thus begins Dekker's latest adventure that questions whether we're "spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience, or physical beings having a spiritual experience." In typical Dekker fashion he keeps the temperature of danger, intrigue and suspense high with adrenaline laced scenes of murder, FBI chases and edge-of-your-seat events that keep pages turning faster and faster.

Dekker's return to his early style of writing continues in a story of life, death, consciousness and catastrophic possibilities that will earn him new fans and keep his name on everyone's "favorite" reading list. Connect with Dekker on FaceBook.

Preparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finance and Much More
Alex Chediak
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414383125, $15.99,

Professor Alex Chediak, author of the bestselling guide for college bound teens, Thriving at College penned Preparing Your Teens for College to answer his most frequently asked parental question. "How can parents get their teens ready for college?" It's a question on many parent's minds with high school graduations in June.

With the escalating costs of college tuition, books and the "sluggish state of the global economy" it's an important question to consider with any form of "post-high school training." Since our nation has moved toward a "skill and knowledge based economy...a college degree gives your child the greatest shot at getting and keeping a good job," writes Chediak.

However, college is far more than advanced courses, studying and preparing for tests. For many students of higher education this will be their first time living responsibly outside the family without a parent to oversee their activities, friends and dating choices.

This is where "training matters," writes Chediak. Teens and "twenty-something's" character, habits, attitudes and world views will be challenged as they transition into the freedom of young adults from increasingly secularized universities, atheistic professors and campus party scenes.

The professor uses statistics, facts and engaging stories to guide parents into significant conversations with their teens on topics such as "character, faith, relationships, finances, academics and making the college decision."

Serious conversations are important in these final years of parental authority when teens need their "parents wisdom, maturity and life experience" more than ever. Chapters include summaries and helpful conversation starters that encourage parent-teen discussions.

He also uses Scripture and Bible stories to discuss the important role of the Gospel in relation to a teen's spiritual condition that is practical and relevant to people and situations college students deal with.

His balanced perspective comes from working with college students for eight years at California Baptist University as professor of engineering and physics. In addition to years of academic pursuit for his own higher education.

If you're a parent concerned over whether your soon-to-be-adult child's Christian faith is strong enough to overcome peer pressure challenges, strong enough to question issues of Christian faith, strong enough to withstand temptations that lead to moral compromise, Chediak's book from a Christian perspective is a must read.

Gail Welborn

Gary's Bookshelf

Best Kept Secret
Jeffery Archer
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
978125004770, $9.99,

"Best Kept Secret" picks up after "The Sins of the Father" with the Cliftons and the Barringtons and moves the story along to the 1950's. As the story plunges along there is a new saga of the two families begun with another generation through Sebastian and Jessica as their lives unfold. Blending historical fact with great characters readers care about and a moving story, "Best Kept Secret" is a great addition to the saga begun in "Only Time Will Tell" that will have readers turning pages to the shattering cliff hanger ending.

Be Careful What You Wish For
Jeffery Archer
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250034489, $27.99,

Picking up right after the end of "Best Kept Secret" "Be Careful What You Wish For" continues the page turning excitement and keeps a reader to the very end where once again there is a cliff hanger ending. This is the fourth installment of the Barrington and Clifton saga that continues to thrill readers with great characters, fast pacing against a backdrop of historical fact. Archer continues to show with this series why he is one of the best story tellers in the business of writing. Though it is a bit more complicated than others in the series "Be Careful What You Wish For" is still a delight to read. Its only problem is that we will have to wait a year before the next one is released.

Your Perfect Life
Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Washington Square Press /Atria
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476730578, $15.00,

Casey and Rachel are childhood friends who go to a school reunion. It is there that something strange happens. Casey wakes up the next day as Rachel, and Rachel wakes up as Casey. They stay in touch and try to figure out how this happened as they both adjust to their changed lives. The authors have created a fun novel that races along with fun situations and the reader wondering what caused the situation to happen and hoping they are able to change back. There are several underlying messages the authors convey and do it very well with a laugh out loud story. "Your Perfect Life" would make for a perfect Lifetime Network movie.

James Patterson & David Ellis
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316405348, $28.00,

"Invisible" is the first novel by Ellis and Patterson I have really enjoyed. This time the novel races along with fast pacing and a story that winds and turns, keeping the reader in suspense as the story unfolds. A killer is on the loose and Emmy Dockery an FBI researcher has a personal reason to solve the murders. "Invisible" is perfectly timed summer reading excitement.

Sycamore Row
John Grisham
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780385537131, $28.95,

"Sycamore Row" is the first sequel Grisham has ever written. Jake Brigance the attorney in "A Time To Kill," is back in the same courthouse trying a new case. Seth Hubbard, a wealthy man has lung cancer. He decides to commit suicide rather than go through treatment that will only prolong his life. Before he takes his own life he writes out instructions to Brigance to administer a new will and carry out the instructions. Brigance has to encounter greedy family members and others in another case that unfolds as the novel moves along. Grisham moves the story along with interesting characters and again sets the novel in Ford County. "Sycamore Row" is a perfect summer read that is also another great legal thriller.

Fatal February
Barbara Levenson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781495997556, $10.50,

Mary Magruder Katz is a tough as nails attorney who begins in "Fatal February" her own legal practice in Miami, Florida. As the novel opens she is working with a major law firm but things change for her very quickly. She is forced to set up her own practice, dump her boyfriend start a relationship with another one and take on a new murder case that has major press attention. Other things happen as well as the novel races along to its surprising ending. "Fatal February is a fast paced thriller that is sure to please anyone who loves legal thrillers.

Justice in June
Barbara Levenson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781495997587, $10.95,

Mary Magruder Katz is back in another great legal thriller. This time she has to defend a judge who has been accused of being crooked, and defend a man who is accused of being a terrorist. Levenson who was a practicing attorney and later judge in the Miami area,brings a sense of realism to her novels of Mary Magruder Katz. With the terrorist defendant she shows how Homeland Security is obsessed with its job to the degree of being just as radical as the people they are after. "Justice in June" is another great legal thriller for fans of this genre.

See How Much You Love Me
Amber Hunt
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250010353, $7.99,

Though Florida is known for its entertaining attractions there is a darker side that is just as well known. It is a place of bizarre murder cases. Two of them are Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman. There is another one that is just as strange that author Amber Hunt tells in her book "See How Much You Love Me." This is the case of a teenager who killed both of his parents then put out over facebook and other social media that he was having a big party at the house. He left their bodies in their bedroom and had his party. Tyler Hadley, the person who put on the party, seemed to be a normal teenager but he was anything but normal. Amber Hunt takes readers through the case and shows that Tyler is a very sick person who is where he should be in jail. "See How Much You Love Me" is a very chilling case of murder in the sunshine state.

Remembering Orlando Tales From Elvis To Disney
Joy Wallace Dickinson
History Press
645 Meeting Street, Suite 200, Charleston, SC 29403
9781596291720, $19.99,

For the rest of the world Central Florida means Disney World, but there is another side to Orlando that much of the world has no idea about. Joy Wallace Dickinson reveals many different things about Orlando and Central Florida that are interesting and fun reading. Some of the things are how and when Walt Disney began buying up land to create Disney World, buildings that are still in the downtown skyline of Orlando, the beginning of the Daytona Beach racetrack, signs in Orlando, a trip to Orlando by Elvis. Another major attraction of Orlando that is no longer in business is the special deli restaurant Ronnies that was an institution that was known worldwide for its deserts and other things unique to this establishment. "Remembering Orlando Tales From Elvis to Disney" is a fun look back at many aspects of the area that is the number one destination of tourists worldwide.

Through The Fire...Journal of a Child Star
Dr. Danielle Spencer Fi3lds & Cheryl P. Pelt
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781451596502, $22.95,

Danielle Spencer Fields played one of the most memorable characters of a sitcom of the 1970's as Dee the wisecracking annoying sister of Roger Thomas in "What's Happening." Now she tells her life story in "Through The Fire Journal of a Child Star." Shortly into her run as Dee she and her step father Tim Pelt were in a major car crash. Her step dad died while she was taken to a hospital. She went into a coma but came out of it and was treated and released. Because she went back to work everyone thought things were fine. After the show left the air she went about her life going to school, college, and later becoming a veterinarian and even finding true love. Things could not be better. It was on a trip with her family that she found out that the car crash so long ago had caused a lot more damage to her system than anyone ever realized. Danielle has had a strong faith in God, a support system of husband and family, and therapy to help her along the path she is on. "Through The Fire Journal of a Child Star" is an inspirational testimonial that there is hope when everything seems to be the worst it can ever be.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

Cries of the Lost
Chris Knopf
The Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor, NY 119963
9781579623326, $28.00, Hardcover, 272 pp

This novel is a sequel to "Dead Anyway," published by The Permanent Press in September of 2012, which I absolutely loved. The author has written ten previous mysteries, including two other series and one standalone. Despite my initial hesitation, I thought I'd repeat some of the content of the opening paragraph of my review of that first book in this new series to catch people up on the background. The protagonist is 43-year-old Arthur Cathcart [although he seldom uses that name after the events that kick off the first book]. And "kick" is an appropriate word here, inasmuch as its first chapter describes a scene wherein Arthur [self-described as a "math geek and social misfit"] and his "breathtakingly beautiful and successful" Chilean wife, Florencia, are held at gunpoint in their home in Stamford, Connecticut, by a man they have never seen before, who shortly shoots them both in the head. Florencia is killed instantly; Arthur is grievously wounded and left for dead. After falling in and out of a coma for months, he is almost literally brought back from the dead, and makes a decision not to let the world in on that fact, convincing his physician sister, who has been caring for him, to fake his death. The earlier book ended with Arthur deciding to use the skills of his profession - - he holds a Masters in Applied Mathematics, doing freelance market research (a field in which "we take a complete lack of results as a sign of encouragement" - - to find out who brutally murdered his adored wife and left him for dead.

Things immediately become more complicated when Cathcart discovers that his wife had a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands, and manages to move most of the millions therein contained, but accessing the safe deposit box requires that he and his significant other, beautiful and brilliant Natsumi Fitzgerald (a former blackjack dealer, "a small, slim person, barely a hundred pounds soaking wet)), to travel to the bank, from which they successfully retrieve the contents, leading only to more questions and more international travel: from the southern coast of France to London, Madrid, Italy, Switzerland, and ultimately Manhattan and Connecticut. As their search continues, Cathcart increasingly realizes just how little he knew Florencia.

Natsumi queries: "Was there ever a more curious person?" Which elicits the response: "Or paranoid?" Both necessary attributes, and there is much proof of both in these pages. Cathcart makes the observation: "It was rarely a failure of knowledge, but rather imagination. It was an affliction of the age - - too much information, not enough wisdom to make sense of it." But he has the skills, and the imagination. Both Cathcart and Natsumi are equally proficient at disguises and subterfuge, despite which they find themselves "a pair of fugitives from forces known and unknown." The title derives from this line in the book: "In the face of so much darkness, what else can a person do but bear witness, and pray he can sleep through all the cries of the lost?" Not wanting to give away any spoilers, suffice it to say that the book delivers on the promise of "Dead Anyway," and this novel is highly recommended.

The Good Boy
Theresa Schwegel
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250001795, $25.99, Hardcover, 357 pp

This newest novel from Theresa Schewegel is at its heart a tale about a boy and his dog, either (or both) of which could be the eponymous Good Boy. The boy is 11-year-old Joel Murphy; the dog is his father Pete's K-9 partner, Butchie (more formally Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry Butch O'Hare, and from time to time variations of any part of that "full title"), a hundred-pound shepherd mix. I opened this book expecting something along the lines of the author's earlier books, specifically a crime thriller/police procedural, and must admit that at first I was disappointed to find that this book is not that at all (although Joel's father is a cop, and there is no shortage of suspense to be found here). And the early portions of the book, told from Joel's p.o.v., were a bit difficult to follow and somewhat off-putting. I hasten to add at this point that in the end, the novel is thoroughly satisfying.

Joel is a very bright young boy with an incredible memory, also a boy who "sees things differently - - a high-spirited version of the overlooked and ordinary." One night he takes it upon himself to protect his teenage sister, McKenna ("Mike"), as she heads out for a party in a dangerous part of town, at the home of someone equally dangerous, where known gang-bangers and criminals are likely to be present. And that is exactly what transpires; a gun is discharged and someone is shot soon after he shows up, with Butchie, his best friend in the world, at his side. It's a toss-up as to who is protecting whom. The remainder of the book follows the path each member of the Murphy family takes in the aftermath of this event, the all-important message being that "home is being together, no matter where they are," and whatever it takes to accomplish that. Initial reservations aside, the novel is very enjoyable, and recommended.

Life, Baseball, and the '86 Mets
Mookie Wilson with Erik Sherman
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425271322, $26.95, Hardcover, 263 pp.

The sub-title of this book says it all: Almost everything one would want to know about this iconic baseball player, the sport which was the passion of his life, and the fabulous 1986 team that won it all. From the first pages: a terrific brief Forward by Keith Hernandez, continuing with an equally brief Preface by Mookie wherein he states, among other things: "It is my hope that this book is really going to let people know that I have a life outside of baseball and that I am more than just another pretty face," followed in turn by a brief Introduction by his co-author, Erik Sherman, stating the incontrovertible fact that "Mookie Wilson is the most beloved Mets player in the history of the franchise," the book goes on to make all of that abundantly clear, and tells us that the man is "an accomplished chef, a fisherman, a licensed securities trader, a soon-to-be ordained Christian minister, and a truck driver who goes by the nickname Night Rider." The introduction includes the fact that Mookie "never forgot where he came from . . . growing up black and poor in the then racially divided South of the sixties and seventies." His father was a hard-working sharecropper "who supported a family of fourteen on a $25 a week salary."

The first chapter, appropriately, describes in detail the tenth inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series, when that miraculous team came from behind to win the game and go on to the championship, propelled by the ten-pitch at bat that ended with the slow roller that went between the legs of Bill Buckner (called by some "the greatest single at-bat in World Series history," and Mookie did "what I always did, which was run as hard as I could. That was the only way I knew how to play the game." This chapter, and the ones in the ensuing pages describing other games, felt like listening to a play-by-play account, especially the 16-inning Game 6 of the NLCS in Houston (which Mookie describes as "The Greatest Game Ever Played") that led to that wonderful World Series.

Mookie is never less than candid about his teammates, pulling no punches, at the same time unstinting in his praise for many of those supremely talented men with whom he played. As a devoted baseball fan since the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and an ardent Mets fan ever since that phenomenal season, and team, of 1986, I have often been asked who is my favorite Mets player. There is only one answer to that: It could only be Mookie Wilson. This is a terrific and heart-warming book, and it is highly recommended, for baseball fans and others alike, but especially for baseball fans.

Fixing to Die
Elaine Viets
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
978045124098-9, $7.99, Paperback, 279 pp

The newest book in the series featuring Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper extraordinaire, focuses on other aspects of Josie's life, with only one small assignment as a mystery shopper. Instead this tale revolves around a fairy-tale house which she has just bought from Dr. Christine Cormac, the vet who is a partner with Josie's new husband, 6' tall Dr. Ted (their marriage is new enough that she still thinks of it in terms of days, now numbering 44 as the book opens), in his St. Louis Mobo-Pet clinic. The house is potentially a treasure, albeit one in need of serious repair.

Josie had been living with her 12-year-old daughter, Amelia, in her mother's house, and Ted had been living in a rental home. Josie is a thirty-two-year-old mom to Amelia, a scholarship student at the Barrington School, "a private school for the richest kids in St. Louis." Their combined pets include Stuart Little, Josie's mother Jane's shih tzu, Josie's cat Harry, and Ted's cat Marmalade and his black Labrador, Festus. The new house, a Tudor Revival cottage, becomes available after its former tenant, Chris' sister, Rain, a "free spirit," had not been seen or heard from after taking off several months before, telling Chris in an e-mail that she was moving to an ashram, leaving the house in a state of disrepair and owing several months rent.

Josie takes on the task of getting the repairs underway almost immediately. No sooner does she begin than, when a crew starts tearing down an old gazebo, a body is unearthed, soon identified as Chris' missing sister. The lead detective who comes to investigate quickly determines that Chris has killed her sister, and arrests her for murder. Soon Josie finds herself thinking "If it wasn't for that body in the backyard of our new house, my life would be perfect. Hunky husband, a daughter who's doing well in school, and no crises with Mom." The effect on her marriage is severe, as her new husband's time is taken up with much longer hours at the clinic; not for the first time in the series, Josie determines to find the real killer. An interesting murder mystery with several possible culprits, the book makes for a perfect beach read, and is recommended.

Let It Burn
Steve Hamilton
Minotaur, 175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 1010
9781250000095, $15.99, Paperback, 288 pp.

Alex McKnight never expected to return to Detroit. His career as a cop there had come to an abrupt end after eight years when he was placed on disability after being shot three times, only two of the bullets able to be removed, the third remaining half a centimeter from his heart. And his partner had never survived the bullets that hit him. Those events obliterated his entire life as he knew it. But when an old colleague tells him that Darryl King, the man he helped put away just days before that final case, is about to be let out of jail after finishing out his sentence, he feels impelled to go back there. King was just a teenaged boy when the vicious murder to which he confessed occurred. That confession left no doubt of his guilt. Unexpectedly, however, there is a nagging thought buzzing around in McKnight's head, a suspicion that he had missed something vital in the investigation. He enlists the aid of Leon Prudell, with whom he had briefly worked as a private investigator in the past, who McKnight calls "the smartest man in town, and as loyal a friend as you could ever have."

This is a police procedural of the highest order. The chapters in the first half of the book alternate between the present and the events which took place all those years ago at a pivotal, life-changing time for McKnight. The second half of the book follows him trying to go back over everything in the initial investigation to find out what he missed. Ultimately this already fast-paced tale takes a totally unexpected twist. And from that point on, I couldn't put the book down.

As with all Mr. Hamilton's books, the author evokes a very real sense of the places, and the people, about which and about whom he writes. Beginning with the first page of his newest novel, he immediately conjures up the place in which he now lives: the town of Paradise on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 300 miles away from has native Detroit, "one of the most murder-prone cities in the country." On the other hand, Paradise is described as a "stark lonely place on the edge of the world, which also turns into the most beautiful place on earth for the few days they call summer." (Mr. Hamilton, along with fellow "Yooper" William Kent Krueger, pretty much owns this territory.) But his love for the Detroit in which he lived for so many years is also made clear, especially his nostalgia for the city as it used to be, including the old Tiger Stadium, long since gone. After I reluctantly closed the book for the last time, I looked back at the cover, re-read the title, and smiled sadly.

Highly recommended.

Lisa Scottoline
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250027658, $27.99, Hardcover, 368 pp.

After several standalone novels and four non-fiction books, Lisa Scottoline has gone back to her terrific Rosato & Associates series, as Mary DiNunzio, one of the all-female "Associates," is made a partner in the firm, joining Benedetto ("Bennie") Rosato as a boss in the successful criminal law firm, well-known as mavericks and for championing the underdog. But when their newest client is Allegra Gardner, the thirteen-year-old daughter (with a genius-level IQ) of a well-known and wealthy Philadelphia family, it presents more of a challenge than usual.

The eponymous accused in this instance is a man who has pleaded guilty to murdering Allegra's sister six years ago in what appeared to be an open-and-shut case, currently serving a long prison term. Allegra firmly believes he is innocent, and hires the firm to investigate and find out who really killed her sister, over the objections of her family.

I can vouch for the authenticity of the large and endearing Italian family with which Mary is surrounded, and they are just as supportive and loving as readers have come to expect, especially when the news of her having been made partner comes on the heels of her announcing that she and her long-time love, Anthony Rotunno, are going to be married. (Unlike the first of these two milestones, Mary is just a bit ambivalent about the latter one, after her husband, Mike, had been murdered many years before when they'd been married for only a year. But she has no doubt of her love for Anthony, being just a bit uncomfortable about wearing the engagement ring.)

Allegra is a fascinating creation, and it's easy to see why the firm would take on such a daunting case. The interesting plot and the winning and wonderfully humorous writing only get better as the book goes along, with a jaw-dropping twist and an unbeatable ending.


Lisa Scottoline
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250027658, $27.99, Hardcover, 368 pp

After several standalone novels and four non-fiction books, Lisa Scottoline has gone back to her terrific Rosato & Associates series, as Mary DiNunzio, one of the all-female "Associates," is made a partner in the firm, joining Benedetto ("Bennie") Rosato as a boss in the successful criminal law firm, well-known as mavericks and for championing the underdog. But when their newest client is Allegra Gardner, the thirteen-year-old daughter (with a genius-level IQ) of a well-known and wealthy Philadelphia family, it presents more of a challenge than usual.

The eponymous accused in this instance is a man who has pleaded guilty to murdering Allegra's sister six years ago in what appeared to be an open-and-shut case, currently serving a long prison term. Allegra firmly believes he is innocent, and hires the firm to investigate and find out who really killed her sister, over the objections of her family.

I can vouch for the authenticity of the large and endearing Italian family with which Mary is surrounded, and they are just as supportive and loving as readers have come to expect, especially when the news of her having been made partner comes on the heels of her announcing that she and her long-time love, Anthony Rotunno, are going to be married. (Unlike the first of these two milestones, Mary is just a bit ambivalent about the latter one, after her husband, Mike, had been murdered many years before when they'd been married for only a year. But she has no doubt of her love for Anthony, being just a bit uncomfortable about wearing the engagement ring.)

Allegra is a fascinating creation, and it's easy to see why the firm would take on such a daunting case. The interesting plot and the winning and wonderfully humorous writing only get better as the book goes along, with a jaw-dropping twist and an unbeatable ending.


Lynda LaPlante
Bourbon Street Books
101 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
978-0-06-213434-9, $14.99, Paperback, 484 pp., October 15, 2013

In the 8th entry of the series featuring London's DCI Anna Travis, the discovery of a young woman's body in the back of a van opens up the possibility of finally getting a lead on a cold case that had been handled by her good friend and former mentor and lover, DCS James Langton, five years ago, when a 13-year-old girl, Rebekka Jordan, disappeared. The man the police arrested, when first questioned, confessed to the murder, as well as two others, including Jordan and a girl he refers to only as "Julia," an exchange student from Dublin. On Langton's recommendation, Travis has been heading up the Specialist Casework Investigations unit, but he now asks her to take up the investigation of the case that has haunted him for years, which she does. The author makes Langton's obsession with the Jordan case, and the lingering grief of her parents, palpable.

Soon after making his confession, however, the suspect retracts it, saying only that he "had made it all up for a laugh," that "he read about the Jordan girl's disappearance and he simply made up the name Julia." But when a missing person report from 18 months ago is uncovered on a 21-year-old girl resembling the man's description of "Julia," which happened to be the girl's middle name, they become determined to investigate further. That investigation leads them to suspect that there may have been even more murders of which the man was guilty.

Langton and Travis are both slowly recovering from trauma, he a physical one that has put him on sick leave with a severe knee injury, she from the murder of her fiance. The case becomes more complex as the investigation proceeds. I found the pace slow and at times plodding, much as I imagine real police work might be. That pace, and the tension, amp up considerably as the book nears its conclusion. I had been a great fan of the author's "Prime Suspect" books, the basis for the wonderful TV series, but have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in the present novel.

Three Can Keep a Secret
Archer Mayor
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250026132, $25.99, Hardcover, 324 pp

This newest in the Joe Gunther series opens with the devastation in the author's native Vermont which accompanied Hurricane Irene in the northeast US a few years back. One of the scenes to which Joe and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation squad are called is a small cemetery where several coffins at a 17-year-old gravesite were unearthed by the force of water, one of which was discovered to contain nothing but rocks, with no sign of any body ever having inhabited it. The cops believe it "might mean somebody faked his own death; might mean something more complicated." This plot line unearths, as well, the first of the secrets hinted at by the title (from Ben Franklin's well-known "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.").

But some very corporeal bodies turn up soon after, not the victims of the storm, but from unclear circumstances, the causes of death undetermined but appearing not to be natural, in addition to a missing patient from a state mental facility in Waterbury which had been flooded, the latter being an elderly woman who called herself The Governor. In an unlikely coincidence, all of these people are found to be connected. All of which leads to more secrets waiting to be uncovered.

Joe and the members of his team are, as always, wonderfully well-drawn, particularly Sammie Martens and Willy Kunkle, now the parents of a baby girl - - Willy, a former sniper in the military whose "arm had been destroyed by a bullet years ago, taken in the line of duty," learning to live with discomfort, physical and psychic, "as a recovering alcoholic with a crippled left arm and an attitude problem. The tale spins out in clever plotlines, along with references to "the flooding and its impact and implications [not the least of which are political in nature]. There was little else being discussed anywhere in the state, and probably wouldn't be for some time." As one whose life was impacted greatly by Superstorm Sandy in late 2012, I could relate very well to that statement.

Not a page-turner in the usual sense of the word, the novel proceeds at an appropriate pace for a police procedural, with a denouement which was totally unexpected by this reader, and what I felt was a wonderfully wrought ending. Another solid entry in the series, and one which is recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
Mulholland Books
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316206846, $26.00, 455 pages

The Cuckoo's Calling is a solid detective mystery. The story has a nice twist. It isn't a great detective novel because it is too wordy. Without damaging the tale at least fifty pages could be removed from the story. Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) uses the entire interviews of suspects and witnesses in the book's narrative including portions of the narrative extensively used as a method for relaxing the witness with no underlying development of the plot. There are also long passages written in London street brogue that are nearly impossible to decipher.

Lula Landry, a world famous fashion model, dies of an apparent suicide. Months later John Bristow, comes to the office of private detective Cormoran Strike. He thinks Lula was murdered and wants Cormoran to find the killer. Cormoran starts the investigation, not with fancy forensics but with a plodding style of reviewing reports, tapes, files and re-interviewing every witness he can find.

The Cuckoo's Calling is a sound detective story. Anyone interested in the detective genre will enjoy the book. It doesn't match the storytelling of the top contemporary authors in the niche but it is a strong addition to the genre. Rowling has shown she is able to write well in genres other than the youth fantasy market.

Bone Blind
Abigail Padgett
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
B004NSV5R2 (ISBN: 9781460927175) $3.99

Bone Blind is in a different genre than it is marketed as. It is a horror story dressed as a murder mystery. This cozy tale has all of the parts of a horror and detective mystery with a dash of a particular writer's life. The parts by themselves don't stand up but mixed together you get a nice weekend read. The mystery story is blended into a writer's creation of his new ghost/zombie story making both parts of the novel more horrific.

Horror novelist Finn Ryan is starting a midlife crisis when his daughter starts getting ready to leave home for college. He meets Tally Serzak, another horror writer. She is a damaged woman that attracts and excites the conservative Ryan. Everything becomes even more complicated when retiring detective Warren Yost decides to look again at a gruesome murder case that has haunted him over the years. Their three lives get tangled with the horrific past murder and a dangerous future.

Bone Blind is a good cozy horror/detective tale. It is well written. It doesn't stretch the reader or pull the reader into the book but it is a comfortable read that is easily worth the low price. The one thing the reader should know is that this isn't a standard murder mystery but a blended horror/mystery cozy. Its methodic pace and horror leanings can put off a pure mystery junkie.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Julia Deck
The New Press
38 Green Street, 4th floor. New York, NY 10013
9781595589644, $19.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: "Viviane" is both an engrossing murder mystery and a gripping exploration of madness, a narrative that tests the shifting boundaries of language and the self. For inspiration, Deck read the work of another Minuit star, Samuel Beckett, because, as she says, "he positions himself within chaos and gives it coherence". "Vivane" is a breakthrough novel, nominated for the Prix Femina, the Prix France Inter, and the Prix du Premier Roman, is sure to become a contemporary classic.

Critique: Ably translated into English from the original French by Linda Coverdale, "Viviane" documents author Julia Deck as a superbly gifted novelist who is able to elevate a mystery from an ordinary genre classification into an impressive work of considerable literary merit. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections, it should be noted that "Viviane" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Can You Let Go of a Grudge?
Frank Desiderio, CSP
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
9780809148448, $16.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: Everyone has had a grudge. Maybe it only lasted for a few minutes or maybe it s lasted for years. Eventually some of these grudges are resolved and people move on. But how do you go from being resentful to being forgiving? How can you let go of whatever bad thing happened? What if the reason you haven t let go is because the act is unforgivable?

This book gives insight in the possibility of forgiveness in all situations. It ties spirituality and the forgiving nature of God to the human ability to give out forgiveness. Can You Let Go of a Grudge? gives meaningful steps in how to move toward forgiveness with no illusions regarding the difficulty involved. Like all learning scenarios, it is best to start small so that you can get the practice needed to later move on to the bigger issues.

The five steps outlined in giving out forgiveness are: to evaluate deeply what went wrong; to embrace empathy; to tell the scenario in a different way; to give forgiveness as you would a gift; and to take it one day at a time because forgiveness is not an easy task, but rather the right one.

Desiderio differentiates between forgiveness and reconciliation. There are times when reconciliation is not in someone s best interests, such as in the case of a murder or violent situation, but forgiveness does not mean forgetting it means letting go of the anger and resentment towards the person who hurt you and moving on without those emotions in your heart. Here is a welcoming, compassionate book of practical spirituality a spirituality of forgiveness that will comfort and inform anyone who has ever experienced a grudge, that is, all of us.

Critique: A relatively quick and easy read, "Can You Let Go of a Grudge? Learn to Forgive and Get on with Your Life" is as informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, a prayerful reading of "Can You Let Go of a Grudge? Learn to Forgive and Get on with Your Life" has the potential of being life changing. "Can You Let Go of a Grudge? Learn to Forgive and Get on with Your Life" is very strongly recommended reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.

The Diet Trap
Jason Lillis, JoAnne Dahl, Sandra M. Weineland
New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781608827091, $19.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on weight-loss products, yet we continue to have the highest obesity rate in the world. The problem with most fad diets is that they only attack the symptom of the problem, not the cause. No matter how much you try to deny yourself the food you crave, you always end up reverting back to bad habits. You might even lose weight initially, but more often than not you'll gain it back - with a couple extra pounds to boot! In order to make real change in your life, you need to change the way you think about food, weight, and what's most important to you. "The Diet Trap" offers proven-effective methods based in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help you develop mindful eating habits, self-compassion, and a greater understanding of what it means to live a valued life. ACT is a values-based therapy that has been proven effective for the treatment of weight loss. Because ACT encourages you to accept and experience uncomfortable emotions - rather than succumb to emotional eating - it helps you to stay on your path to lose weight, while also helping you develop compassion toward yourself, no matter how much you weigh. "The Diet Trap" offers evidence-based solutions to help you fundamentally change the way you think about food, so that you can successfully lose weight, get healthy, and live a happy, fulfilling life without costly and frustrating fad diets.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and presented by a team of genuine experts (Jason Lillis is the Assistant Professor of Research at the Alpert Medical School, Brown University; JoAnne Dahl is Professor of Psychology, Uppsala University, Sweden; Sandra M. Weineland is a Clinical psychology and Doctor of Psychology, Linkoping university, Sweden), "The Diet Trap: Feed Your Psychological Needs and End the Weight Loss Struggle Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy" is specifically recommended for non-specialist general readers struggling with weight issue. Informed and informative, packed with practical, insightful, and applicable information, "The Diet Trap: Feed Your Psychological Needs and End the Weight Loss Struggle Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy" would prove to be a popular pick for community library Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted that "The Diet Trap: Feed Your Psychological Needs and End the Weight Loss Struggle Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.39).

Head to Heart
Jenifer Madson
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573245982, $16.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: Head to Heart gently guides us to cultivate (and sustain) those moments of clarity--the awakenings of everyday life--and to embrace and grow from them all, no matter how joyful or painful. "Head to Heart" covers awakening to: generating more compassion or love; creating an unshakable sense of well-being; better understanding your mind and surroundings; finding answers to specific challenges; or all of these. Practice can happen anywhere, any time: on the mat or on the move, sitting or walking, in silence or conversation, alone or with a group; in short, whenever you are consciously pointing your mind toward greater clarity and service while connecting with the Spirit, you are meditating and preparing to awaken.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Head to Heart: Mindfulness Moments for Every Day" is comprised of 365 succinct meditations specifically designed to open the reader to the promises of peace, of joy, of contentment, and of purpose. With a prose that is simple, elegant, and erudite, "Head to Heart: Mindfulness Moments for Every Day" is ideal for the nonspecialist general reader and would make a popular addition to community library Self Help collections. It should be noted that "Head to Heart: Mindfulness Moments for Every Day" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

All Saints
Kathleen Daisy Miller
1520 Wyandotte Street East
Windsor, ON, Canada, N9A 3L2
Tara Murphy
9781927428634, $16.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: In a linked collection that presents the secret small tragedies of an Anglican congregation struggling to survive, "All Saints" delves into the life of Simon, the Reverend, and the lives of his parishioners: Miss Alice Vipond, a refined and elderly schoolteacher, incarcerated for a horrendous crime; a woman driven to extreme anxiety by an affair she cannot end; a receptionist, and her act of improbable generosity; a writer making peace with her divorce. Effortlessly written and candidly observed, All Saints is a moving collection of tremendous skill, whose intersecting stories illuminate the tenacity and vulnerability of modern-day believers.

Critique: Expertly crafted short stories that perform an impressive story arc and engage the reader's fascinated attention from first page to last, "All Saints" is an extraordinary anthology that documents author Kathleen Daisy Miller as an impressively gifted and original writer able to craft truly memorable characters that will linger in the mind and memory long after "All Saints" has been read and put back upon the shelf. Highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections, it should be noted that "All Saints" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Women in Space
Karen Bush Gibson
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613748442, $19.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance - cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982 - followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow. "Women in Space" profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.

Critique: The importance of "Women In Space" cannot be understated. An extraordinary book about extraordinary women, "Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures" by Karen Bush Gibson should be in every school and community library collection in the country -- and at the top of every reading list for girls and women from the ages of 12 to 102. It should be noted that "Women In Space" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Leaves Are Falling
Lucy Beckett
Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
9781586178949, $19.95, 314pp,

Synopsis: An octogenarian bookseller living alone in London has found a description of his father, as a young doctor in 1920s Breslau, in a story about Weimar Germany. Perhaps his own story might be worth telling? In 1945, as a sixteen-year-old boy rescued from the ruins of Europe, he arrives at a Yorkshire farmhouse. Working on the farm for two years in the strange atmosphere of rural England immediately after World War II, he learns to deal with his memories of what happened to him and to his family and to trust, up to a point, those around him in a foreign country. London in 1947 is stranger still. But he is lucky, as he has been since 1941, when marksmen tried to shoot him into a pit full of corpses in a Lithuanian forest. The year before, different executioners in a different forest further east had shot and killed his father. Those who faced the worst atrocities of World War II, which were inflicted on people in the "bloodlands" of eastern Poland and western Russia, knew that there was little to choose between the two mighty machines, Nazi and Soviet. How was it possible for the individual to survive the crushing wheels of ideology, terror, and mass murder with his integrity intact? "The Leaves Are Falling" (a sequel to Lucy Beckett's "A Postcard from the Volcano" but a stand-alone story), explores this question.

Critique: Lucy Beckett is a superbly gifted novelist able to deftly craft memorable characters and original storylines for the delight and edification of her readers. A thoroughly engaging and entertaining novel from beginning to end, "The Leaves Are Falling" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted that "The Leaves Are Falling" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.38).

The Truth Be Told
Carol Cox
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764209574, 14.99, 352pp,

Synopsis: When Amelia Wagner takes over her father's newspaper in 1893 Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper's commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have serious consequences. Her father's revealing articles about the Great Western Investment Company have caught the attention of the wrong people, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father's statements. Determined to find out the real story, Amelia begins her own investigation. She's joined by Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who's been assigned to keep tabs on her for the good of the company, a man Amelia finds both perplexing and intriguing. What they uncover stuns them both--and has far-reaching implications for not only Ben and Amelia but all of Granite Springs. Can they reveal the truth before the enemy finds a way to silence them for good?

Critique: Carol Cox is a veteran novelist whose exceptional skills as a storyteller are consistently impressive. For those to whom "The Truth Be Told" is their first introduction to her extraordinary literary talents, they will be motivated to seek out other titles among her thirty novels and novellas. Highly entertaining and a recommended addition to summer reading lists, "The Truth Be Told" will make a popular addition to community library fiction collections and is available in a library quality binding edition (Christian Mystery Series: Large Print (9781628991420, $34.95). It should be noted that "The Truth Be Told" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99) as well.

The Reader As Peeping Tom
Jeremy Hawthorn
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road
Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814212578, $69.95, 272pp,

Synopsis: When we read a novel or watch a film, we become Peeping Toms. Spying on fictional characters, we can enjoy observing their private lives and most intimate secrets while safe in the knowledge that they are totally unaware of us. The Reader as "Peeping Tom: Nonreciprocal Gazing in Narrative Fiction and Film", by Jeremy Hawthorn, examines the implications of this nonreciprocal relationship by focusing on works in which the relationships between characters are also nonreciprocal. Hawthorn focuses on four novelists and three filmmakers whose works are concerned with surveillance, spying, and voyeurism: Hawthorne, Dickens, Melville, Henry James, Hitchcock, Michael Powell, and Francis Ford Coppola. Hawthorn suggests that while some literary and film narratives use the reader's or viewer's sense of all-seeing invulnerability to underwrite the various systems of control and surveillance that are depicted in the work, others associate such forms of nonreciprocal observation with impotence and impoverishment and thus critique political systems that legitimize surveillance. Hawthorn concludes that critics have underestimated the extent to which reader's or viewer's sense of disempowerment adds meaning to the experience of fiction and film and may encourage acceptance or criticism of spying and surveillance in the real world. "The Reader As Peeping Tom" questions benign views of the reader's or spectator's role as passive observer, and offers original and exciting readings of some key narrative texts.

Critique: An erudite and insightful work, "The Reader As Peeping Tom" is a extraordinary model of analytical literary scholarship. Enhanced with the inclusion of nine page Bibliography and a comprehensive Index, "The Reader As Peeping Tom" is very highly recommended, especially for academic library Literary Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Hex Weave & Mad Weave
Elizabeth Lang-Harris & Charlene St. John
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764344657, $24.99, 112pp,

Synopsis: Triaxial weaving is based on three axes, or directions, instead of the two directions used in most Western textiles. It is among the oldest forms of weaving, and in today's world, industry uses triaxial weaving to produce strong, stable fabrics. There is also a growing interest in triaxial weaving as an art form. Through more than 200 diagrams and photos, you will learn the basics of the two simplest forms of triaxial weaving hex weave and mad weave. Practice your new skills with thirteen projects. The five hex weave projects are stationery stars, a tiny Christmas tree made from recycled holiday cards, an accordion journal, and a faux bull's eye clock. Eight mad weave projects cover pillows, tote and evening bags, a table runner, and eyeglass cases. Chapters include designing patterns, color, using paper, ribbons and yardage, and a troubleshooting section. This in-depth guide will inspire weavers, basket makers, and more.

Critique: Profusely illustrated and thoroughly 'user friendly', the projects comprising "Hex Weave & Mad Weave: An Introduction to Triaxial Weaving" are superbly presented making this a perfect course of introductory instruction with respect to triaxial weaving. "Hex Weave & Mad Weave: An Introduction to Triaxial Weaving" is strongly recommended for personal and community library Needlecraft instructional reference collections.

Olive Odyssey
Julie Angus
Greystone Books
c/o Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group
2323 Quebeck Street, Suite 201
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5T 4S7
9781553655145, $25.95, 344pp,

Synopsis: When Julie Angus visits her relatives in Syria, where they continue a centuries-old tradition of making olive oil, she understands that the olive is at the very core of who they are. Her curiosity piqued, she begins to wonder about the origins and history of this fruit that has meant so much to them. Angus, her husband, and their ten-month-old son embark on a Mediterranean voyage to retrace the route of the Phoenicians and discover who ate the first olive and learned to make oil from it, why it became such an influential commodity for many of the greatest civilizations, and how it expanded from its earliest roots in the Middle East. As they sail the dazzling waters of the Mediterranean, Angus and her husband collect samples from ancient trees, testing them to determine where the first olive tree originated. They also feast on inky black tapenades in Cassis, nibble on codfish and chickpeas creamed in olive oil in Sardinia, witness the harvesting of olives in Greece, and visit perhaps the oldest olive tree in the world, on Crete.

Critique: Part travelogue, part memoir, and part history of a cultivated crop that had its origins in the very dawn of the discovery of agriculture thousands of years ago, "Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit That Seduced the World" is a fascination read from beginning to end. A molecular biologist, adventurer, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker, author Julie Angus is able to captivate her reader's total attention and hold it from first page to last. As informed and informative as it is educative and entertaining, "Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit That Seduced the World" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit That Seduced the World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.49).

My Name Is Lola
Lola Roza & Susie Sparks
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive, N.W.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
9781552387191, $39.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: "My Name Is Lola" contains the collected memories of Lola Rozsa - of her life and service to her family, her church, and her community as she and her husband, Ted, made their way from the tiny towns of the Depression-era, dust bowl southern plains of the United States to the burgeoning oil fields of 1949 Alberta. As Ted struggled to build his first seismic company, Lola raised their children in Calgary, an environment far different from the home in Texas she desperately missed. However, the values taught to her by her preacher father stood her in good stead as she immersed herself in service for her new community. For the next sixty years, as they prospered, they made Calgary their home and, along with other industry pioneers, helped to build many of the city's enduring cultural institutions.

Critique: An interesting life lived out in interesting times. "My Name Is Lola" is a memoir of Lola Roza as told to and written down by Susie Sparks (director of an extensive oral history project for the Calgary Bar Association). Exceptionally well written and presented, "My Name Is Lola" could well serve as a kind of template for similar undertakings to record and preserve the life stories of a fading generation of men and women. Simply stated, "My Name Is Lola" is an entertaining and informative read, as well as a highly recommended addition to community and academic library Biography & Memoir collections.

It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been
B. J. Gallagher
Viva Editions
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781936740697, $15.95, 220pp,

Synopsis: Inspired by the timeless quote by the great writer George Eliot, "It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been" is a guidebook to getting the life you've always wanted. Written in a warm and witty style, "It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been: A Guide to Getting the Life You Love" is written for, in B. J. Gallaher's own words, "Everyone who has let fear or busyness or any reason good or bad get in the way of achieving your highest goals and long-held dreams, and isn't that everyone?" Whether you are a brand new college graduate going out into the big, wide world, a business executive escaping burnout, or a 40-something mom looking for a 'second life,' this book is a wonderful combination of great advice, step-by-step guidelines, and pure inspiration to listen to and honor your inner voice and seize not just the day, but the rest of your life!

Critique: Now in a newly updated second edition, "It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been: A Guide to Getting the Life You Love" is replete with illustrative true life stories, step-by-step 'user friendly' guidelines, and inspiring anecdotes for helping the reader craft and then achieve for themselves their own definitions of 'the good life'. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Self-Help collections, ""It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been: A Guide to Getting the Life You Love", it should be noted that this deftly written 'how to' manual for personal growth is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Death Spiral
Janie Chodosh
The Poisoned Pencil
c/o Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
MM Book Publicity
9781929345007, $10.95, 312pp,

Synopsis: When loner Faith Flores finds her mother dead of an apparent overdose, she refuses to believe that's the case. Sure, her mom made some bad decisions, but leaving her daughter would never be one of them. Unfortunately, the cops are all too eager to close the case and move on, sending a distraught and unsatisfied Faith to live with her Aunt T in the suburbs of Philadelphia. But a note from Melinda, her mom's junkie friend, prompts Faith to begin digging, igniting her passion in science and her need for answers. Faith soon discovers Melinda and her mother had participated in an experimental clinical trial to treat heroin addiction. Then Melinda also turns up dead from an apparent overdose. Now Faith is pulling out all the stops in her search for truth, cutting school, lying to her aunt, her best friend, even the police. The only person she can't lie to is new boy Jesse, whose brutal honesty is a welcome respite from the mountain of misinformation uncovered by her investigation. Faith's investigation takes her through the myriad back alleys and laboratories of Philly, all the way to one of the most powerful scientists in town. But when the medical examiner's body is found in the Schuylkill River, Faith realizes if she doesn't find who's behind the sinister science and its cover-up, she could be next.

Critique: A deftly written mystery that will especially appeal to young adult readers, author Janie Chodosh demonstrates her mastery of the genre with a compelling and thoroughly entertaining debut novel that will leave her readers looking eagerly toward her next literary effort. Very highly recommended for school and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that "Death Spiral" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

How Not To Be My Patient
Edward T. Creagan, MD
Write On Ink Publishing
c/o Concierge Marketing Inc.
13518 'L' Street, Omaha, NE 68137
9780991654413, $19.95, 312pp,

Synopsis: Dr. Edward Creagan has been treating very sick patients for more than 35 years. "How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician's Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis" is not just about lifestyle choices, although these are important aspects of Dr. Creagan's healthy living plan. It is about using your precious minutes in the exam room (the average doctor visit is about 16 minutes), forging the right kind of relationship with your care providers (because that world is changing quickly), and understanding and using the health care system - instead of having the system use (and often abuse) you.

Critique: Informed, informative, impressively well written, and now in a newly updated and expanded second edition, "How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician's Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis" is especially recommended for the non-specialist general reader wanting to obtain the very best of medical care from their doctors and other health care providers. Essential reading for anyone suffering from chronic illness or serious injury, "How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician's Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis" should be a part of every community library Health & Medicine reference collection. It should be noted that "How Not to Be My Patient: A Physician's Secrets for Staying Healthy and Surviving Any Diagnosis" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The President's Caddy
Tony Rosa
Jackpot Press
7110 CR 17 South, Sebring, FL 33876
9780982822500, $11.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: Thanks to his uncle, sixteen-year-old Sam Parma lands the job of caddying for the President at a celebrity golf tournament. His younger brother, Matthew, will be caddying alongside him. Well, sort of; Matthew gets to drive around in a cart, plays the "cute" card, and gets away with everything. Meanwhile, Sam slaves away hauling clubs next to egotistical caddy Chip Swanson, a popular high school senior who makes it known that he's just as good as any of the pros. Sam wants to prove he is cut out for a career like professional tour caddy, Major, but soon worries he just may not be good enough.

Sam finds the simple rules of being a caddy not so simple. He's a little put-off that the President selects his own clubs and never asks for his advice, but he just wants to do a good job and not overstep his bounds... even though he's frustrated by Chip's colorful tidbits about the course, and the fact that everybody loves Matthew's antics. Then there's the fact that Theresa Bellissima is at the golf course; Sam can't stop thinking about what to say to her, and whether or not she's flirting with him.

Sam's not just learning about how to be a good caddy; he's also discovering things about himself. He wants to do an extraordinary job, but the terrain proves troublesome and a "Big Goof" almost sinks him. Sam is ready to give up thoughts of ever being a caddy when something simple gives him a needed boost.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and original, "The President's Caddy: A Golf Story" is highly entertaining and will capture the young reader's total attention from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for school and community library collections, it should be noted that "The President's Caddy: A Golf Story" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95).

Julie Summers

Mason's Bookshelf

And There Was Light
Jacques Lusseyran
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608682690, $15.95, 304pp,

Synopsis: When Jacques Lusseyran was an eight-year-old Parisian schoolboy, he was blinded in an accident. He finished his schooling determined to participate in the world around him. In 1941, when he was seventeen, that world was Nazi-occupied France. Lusseyran formed a resistance group with fifty-two boys and used his heightened senses to recruit the best. Eventually, Lusseyran was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in a transport of two thousand resistance fighters. He was one of only thirty from the transport to survive. His gripping story is one of the most powerful and insightful descriptions of living and thriving with blindness, or indeed any challenge, ever published.

Critique: Now in a newly updated edition that is ably translated into English from the original French by Elizabeth R. Cameron, "And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II" is enhanced with a new photo insert section and some restored passages missing from the earlier edition. A highly recommended and deeply personal autobiography, "And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II", it should be noted that a Kindle edition ($9.99) and an audio edition ($9.95) are also available.

Koren Talmud Bavli: The Noe Edition
Adin Steinsaltz
Koren Publishers Jerusalem
c/o The Toby Press
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776-8531
9789653015739, $49.95,

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (born 1937) is a teacher, philosopher, social critic, and spiritual mentor. He has devoted his life to making the Talmud accessible to all Jews. Originally published in modern Hebrew, with a running commentary to facilitate learning, his Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud has also been translated into English, French, Russian and Spanish. Beginning in 1989, Steinsaltz published several tractates in Hebrew and English of the Babylonian (Bavli) Talmud in an English-Hebrew edition. The first volume of a new English-Hebrew edition, the "Koren Talmud Bavli: The Noe Edition" for an American readership features vowels and punctuation in the traditional text of the Vilna page; presents logical division of the text into manageable paragraphs and lines; employs clear and concise English; is enhanced with the inclusion of color photographs, illustrations, maps and charts; includes Jewish law citations; offers explanations of grammar and terminology; incorporates historical and scientific background information; offers biographical information, as well as introductions, summaries, and indexes. An invaluable work of meticulous scholarship, "Koren Talmud Bavli: The Noe Edition" is extraordinary and highly recommended for personal, synagogue, and academic library Judaic Studies reference collections.

The Stillman
Tom McCulloch
Sandstone Press Ltd.
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781908737670, $18.00, 286pp,

Synopsis: Jim Drever is a man apart. Twenty years a Still Master at a distillery in the Scottish Highlands, his closest relationship is with the machinery he monitors, and the movies he's obsessed with. It's the worst winter in years and the world is closing in. A strike is looming and his daughter is about to get married. His son's ever-weirder behavior is becoming a worry and his marriage has disintegrated into savage skirmishes with a wife he barely knows. Then the emails start to arrive from Cuba, sending him letters from his dead mother, and Jim can't stay on the sidelines any longer.

Critique: "The Stillman" is a literary masterpiece of a deftly written novel with impressively crafted characters and a complex yet coherent storyline that engages the reader's full attention from beginning to end. "The Stillman" is as memorable as it is entertaining and is commended for personal summer reading lists and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Fiction collections. It should also be noted that "The Stillman" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.79).

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism
John Hope Bryant
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
235 Montgomery Street, Suite 650
San Francisco, CA 94104-2916
9781626560321, $24.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: In "How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class", John Hope Bryant (successful self-made businessman and founder of the nonprofit Operation HOPE), says business and political leaders are ignoring the one force that could truly re-energize the stalled American economy: the poor. If we give poor communities the right tools, policies, and inspiration, he argues, they will be able to lift themselves up into the middle class and become a new generation of customers and entrepreneurs. Raised in poverty-stricken, gang-infested South Central Los Angeles, Bryant saw firsthand how our institutions have abandoned the poor. He details how business loans, home loans, and financial investments have vanished from their communities. After decades of deprivation, the poor lack bank accounts, decent credit scores, and any real firsthand experience of how a healthy free enterprise system functions.

Bryant radically redefines the meaning of poverty and wealth. (It's not just a question of finances; it's values too.) He exposes why attempts to aid the poor so far have fallen short and offers a way forward: the HOPE Plan, a series of straightforward, actionable steps to build financial literacy and expand opportunity so that the poor can join the middle class. Fully 70 percent of the American economy is driven by consumer spending, but more and more people have too much month at the end of their money. John Hope Bryant aspires to "expand the philosophy of free enterprise to include all of God's children" and create a thriving economy that works not just for the 1 percent or even the 99 percent but for the 100 percent. This is a free enterprise approach to solving the problem of poverty and raising up a new America.

Critique: A welcome breathe of fresh air into a stale and polarized national debate on how to reverse the steady decline of the American middle class, "How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class" is as inspired and inspiring as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Exceptionally well written, "How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class" is especially recommended to the attention of non-specialist general readers and governmental policy makers with an interest in restoring America to a sustained and sustainable economic prosperity for all its citizens and not just the top 1%. Also available in a Kindle edition ($9.48), "How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class" will prove to be an important and popular addition to community and academic library Economic Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

We The Cosmopolitans
Lisette Josephides & Alexandra Hall, editors
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782382768, $80.00, 196pp,

Synopsis: "We the Cosmopolitans: Moral and Existential Conditions of Being Human" is compendium of six theoretically experimental essays, where contributors try different ideas to answer distinct concerns regarding cosmopolitanism. Leading anthropologists explore what cosmopolitanism means in the context of everyday life, variously viewing it as an aspect of kindness and empathy, as tolerance, hospitality and openness, and as a defining feature of pan-human individuality. The chapters thus advance an existential critique of abstract globalization discourse. "We the Cosmopolitans: Moral and Existential Conditions of Being Human" enriches interdisciplinary debates about hitherto neglected aspects of contemporary cosmopolitanism as a political and moral project, examining the form of its lived effects and offering new ideas and case studies to work with.

Critique: The editorial team of Lisette Josephides (Professor of Anthropology at Queen's University Belfast, Ireland) and Alexandra Hall (Lecturer in Politics at the University of York) have collaborated to produce a collection of seminal essays that are as informed and thoughtful as they are iconoclastic examples of meticulous and seminal scholarship replete with illustrative case examples. Of special note are Lisette Josephides' Introduction' and Alexandra Hall's 'Conclusion'. "We the Cosmopolitans: Moral and Existential Conditions of Being Human" is a strongly recommended contribution to academic library Philosophy and Cultural Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Twenty Thirty-Three
James A. Turner
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490824123, $13.95, 186pp,

Synopsis: An ominous dark cloud looms over America. America's decline has finally reached a breaking-point. Few options remain to correct decades of national failure. A world-unified government is one option. A secret committee still has hope for a return to what America was before secular humanism was the prevalent religion and progressivism controlled the government.

Critique: With "Twenty Thirty-Three", author James A. Turner demonstrates a complete mastery as a novelist who is able to craft believable characters and introduce them into a tightly woven storyline of unexpected twists and turns. The result is solid entertainment from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for summer reading lists, "Twenty Thirty-Three" is also available in a hardcover edition (9781490824130, $30.95) and a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Advocate
Randy Singer
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414348605, $15.99, 496pp,

Synopsis: At the trial of Christ, Theophilus, brilliant young assessore raised in the Roman aristocracy, stands behind Pontius Pilate and whispers, "Offer to release Barabbas." The strategy backfires, and Theophilus never forgets the sight of an innocent man unjustly suffering the worst of all possible deaths - Roman crucifixion. Three decades later, Theophilus has proven himself in the legal ranks of the Roman Empire. He has survived the insane rule of Caligula and has weathered the cruel tyrant's quest to control the woman he loves. He has endured the mindless violence of the gladiator games and the backstabbing intrigue of the treason trials. Now he must face another evil Caesar, defending the man Paul in Nero's deranged court. Can Theophilus mount a defense that will keep another innocent man from execution? The advocate's first trial altered the course of history. His last will change the fate of an empire.

Critique: Author Randy Singer fully captures the reader's attention with his deftly written historical novel rich in detail, character development, and expertly woven story lines and plots. A terrifically entertaining read from first page to last, "The Advocate" is very highly recommended and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted that "The Advocate" is also available in a hardcover edition (9781414391304, $24.99), a Kindle edition (B00E1O6VWC, $9.99), and an unabridged audio book edition (9781610458320, $26.98).

Knock at the Door of Opportunity
Christopher Robert Reed
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809333332, $65.00, 408pp,

Synopsis: Disputing the so-called ghetto studies that depicted the early part of the twentieth century as the nadir of African American society, "Knock at the Door of Opportunity: Black Migration to Chicago, 1900-1919" investigates black life in turn-of-the-century Chicago, revealing a vibrant community that grew and developed on Chicago's South Side in the early 1900s. Author Christopher Reed also explores the impact of the fifty thousand black southerners who streamed into the city during the Great Migration of 1916 - 1918, effectively doubling Chicago's African American population. Those already residing in Chicago's black neighborhoods had a lot in common with those who migrated, Reed demonstrates, and the two groups became unified, building a broad community base able to face discrimination and prejudice while contributing to Chicago's growth and development. Reed not only explains how Chicago's African Americans openly competed with white people for jobs, housing and an independent political voice but also examines the structure of the society migrants entered and helped shape. Other topics include South Side housing, black politics and protest, the role of institutionalized religion, the economic aspects of African American life, the push for citizenship rights and political power for African Americans, and the impact of World War I and the race riot of 1919. The first comprehensive exploration of black life in turn-of-the-century Chicago beyond the mold of a ghetto perspective, this revealing work demonstrates how the melding of migrants and residents allowed for the building of a Black Metropolis in the 1920s.

Critique: Simply stated, "Knock at the Door of Opportunity: Black Migration to Chicago, 1900-1919" is a model of meticulous research and deftly written sociological scholarship. Enhanced with forty-four pages of Notes, a seventy page Bibliography, and a comprehensive Index, "Knock at the Door of Opportunity: Black Migration to Chicago, 1900-1919" will prove to be an invaluable and seminal contribution to academic library American History and Black Studies reference collections.

Decline and Fall
John Michael Greer
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, V0R 1X0
9780865717640, $19.95, 304pp,

Synopsis: "Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America" challenges the conventional wisdom of empire. Using a wealth of historical examples combined with groundbreaking original analysis, author and ecological history scholar John Michael Greer demonstrates and documents just how the United States has backed itself into a blind corner in the pursuit of political and economic power; explores the inevitable consequences of imperial collapse; and then proposes a renewal of democratic institutions as the only constructive way forward. By shifting the conversation from whether today's American empire should survive to whether it can survive, and arguing persuasively that the answer to the latter question is NO, "Decline and Fall" makes an invaluable contribution to the body of speculative post-industrial literature.

Critique: A brilliant, informative, seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America" is both highly recommended for academic library Political Science Studies reference collections, and ideal for non-specialist general readers with an interest in American political reforms on local, state, federal, and international scales. It should be noted that " "Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Dangerous Friendship
Ben Kamin
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25
East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611861310, $22.95, 268pp,

Synopsis: The product of long-concealed FBI surveillance documents, "Dangerous Friendship" chronicles a history of Martin Luther King Jr. that the government kept secret from the public for years. Author Ben Kamin reveals the story of Stanley Levison, a well-known figure in the Communist Party - USA, who became one of King's closest friends and, effectively, his most trusted adviser. Levison, a Jewish attorney and businessman, became King's pro bono ghostwriter, accountant, fundraiser, and legal adviser. This friendship, however, created many complications for both men. Because of Levison's former ties to the Communist Party, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover launched an obsessive campaign, wiretapping, tracking, and photographing Levison relentlessly. By association, King was labeled as "a Communist and subversive," prompting then - attorney general Robert F. Kennedy to authorize secret surveillance of the civil rights leader. It was this effort that revealed King's sexual philandering and furthered a breakdown of trust between King, Robert F. Kennedy, and eventually President John F. Kennedy. With stunning revelations, "Dangerous Friendships" exposes both the general attitude of the U.S. government toward the privacy rights of American citizens during those difficult years as well as the extent to which King, Levison, and many other freedom workers were hounded by people at the very top of the U.S. security establishment.

Critique: A masterpiece of targeted American political, social, and cultural history, "Dangerous Friendship: Stanley Levison, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Kennedy Brothers" is a deftly written and superbly presented seminal study that is informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. "Dangerous Friendship" is an invaluable contribution to academic library 20th Century American Political History Studies reference collections, and will prove an especially educative contribution to the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and his brother Robert Kennedy.

The Gospel of John and Christian Origins
John Ashton
Fortress Press
P.O. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
9781451472141, $49.00, 208pp,

Synopsis: One of the most challenging questions facing New Testament scholars - how did Christianity emerge from Judaism? - is often addressed in general and indirect terms. The question becomes acute, however, when we turn to the Fourth Gospel, which, like the Judaism from which it presumably sprang, affirms one God, yet also affirms the incarnation of the eternal Word and, in nascent form, what Christians will later call the Trinity - - teachings that seem to set the Gospel poles apart from Judaism! John Ashton refuses any merely evolutionary explanation for this shift. Rather, he argues that the author of the Fourth Gospel set out precisely to supplant one revelation with another, and this because of the profound religious experience of the Evangelist, who turned from being a practicing Jew to experiencing a new revelation centered on Christ as the intermediary between God and humanity.

Critique: An erudite work of impeccable scholarship from beginning to end, "The Gospel of John and Christian Origins" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A complete course of instruction, "The Gospel of John and Christian Origins" is highly recommended, especially to New Testament Studies supplemental reading lists and student of the early Christian movement of the first through third centuries. An impressive addition to academic and seminary reference collections, it should be noted that "The Gospel of John and Christian Origins" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.99).

How Dark The Night
William C. Hammond
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612514673, $34.95, 216pp,

Synopsis: Although a work of fiction, William C. Hammond's "How Dark The Night" offers an historically authentic American perspective during the Age of Fighting Sail. "How Dark the Night" continues the seafaring adventures of the Cutler family by picking up the action where the fourth volume, "A Call to Arms", ends in 1805. The years leading up to the War of 1812 were devastating ones for the young republic. The life-and-death struggle between Great Britain and France caught the United States in a web of financial and political chaos as President Jefferson and Secretary of State Madison labored to keep the unprepared United States out of the conflict without compromising the nation's honor. On the home front, Jefferson's embargo threatened the livelihood of the Cutlers and other New England shipping families as merchant ships rotted on their moorings and sailors sat on the beach, penniless. Far worse for the Cutler family is a grave illness that threatens the life of its most beloved member.

Like previous books in the series, the action in "How Dark the Night" is brought to life by such colorful historical figures as the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte, Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith, Robert Fulton and his prototype for a submarine, Captain Stephen Decatur, Captain Salusbury Pryce Humphreys RN, and Commodore James Barron. Historical events include the decline of slavery in the West Indies, the stark political differences between the Federalists in New England and the "War Hawk" Republicans in the South and West led by Henry Clay and John Calhoun, as well as the abuses at sea perpetrated by the Royal Navy against America. Such abominations reach a war footing after the so-called "affair" between the USS Chesapeake and HMS Leopard--as related from the British point of view through the eyes of Seth Cutler, a midshipman serving in Leopard.

Critique: William C. Hammond is an impressive author able to breath life into his characters and envelop his reader's total attention from first page to last. An outstanding continuation of a highly recommended series, "How Dark The Night" is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library historical fiction collections. It should also be noted that "How Dark The Night" is also available in a Kindle edition. These are the kinds of books from which block-buster movies and award-winning television mini-series are made!

Vying for Allah's Vote
Haroon K. Ullah
Georgetown University Press
3240 Prospect Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
9781626160156, $26.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: Contemporary Pakistani politics is one of extremes. In early 2011, the prominent Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by a member of his own security team for insulting Islam by expressing views in support of the rights of women and religious minorities. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, was killed by gunfire and explosive devices as she left a campaign event in December 2007; strong evidence links members of extremist organizations to her slaying.

These murders underscore the fact that religion, politics, and policy are inextricably linked in Pakistan. In this book, Haroon K. Ullah analyzes the origins, ideologies, bases of support, and electoral successes of the largest and most influential Islamic parties in Pakistan. Based on his extensive field work in Pakistan, he develops a new typology for understanding and comparing the discourses put forth by these parties in order to assess what drives them and what separates the moderate from the extreme. A better understanding of the range of parties is critical for knowing how the US and other Western nations can engage states where Islamic political parties hold both political and moral authority.

Pakistan's current democratic transition will hinge on how well Islamic parties contribute to civilian rule, shun violence, and mobilize support for political reform. Ullah's political-party typology may also shed light on the politics of other majority-Muslim democracies, such as Egypt and Tunisia, where Islamist political parties have been thrust onto the world stage.

Critique: Harron K. Ullah draws upon his experience and expertise as a staff adviser to the U.S. State Department and as a member of the Late Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke's policy team on Pakistan and Afghanistan to produce an informed and informative analytical history and overview of Pakistani politics in "Vying for Allah's Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan". Deftly written and superbly presented, "Vying for Allah's Vote" should be considered mandatory reading for anyone (especially U. S. congressional and administrative international relations policy makers) needing to understand the exploitation of Islamic fervor and fundamentalism to shape and control political power in a fractured and conflicted contemporary Islamic state. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, two appendices, extensive notes, a select bibliography, and an index, "Vying for Allah's Vote" is especially recommended for academic library Pakistani and Islamic contemporary reference collections. It should also be noted that "Vying for Allah's Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Europe in Its Own Eyes, Europe in the Eyes of the Other
David B. MacDonald & Mary-Michelle DeCoste, editors
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781554588404, $85.00, 322pp,

Synopsis: What is Europe? Who is European? What do Europe and European identity mean in the twenty-first century? This collection of sixteen essays seeks to answer these questions by focusing on Europe as it is seen through its own eyes and through the eyes of others across a variety of cultural texts, including sport, film, literature, dance, cartography, and fashion. These texts, as interpreted here by emerging researchers as well as well-established scholars, enable us to engage with European identities in the plural and to understand what these identities mean in larger cultural and political contexts.

The interdisciplinary focus of this volume permits an exploration of European identity that reaches beyond the area of European studies to incorporate understandings of identity from the viewpoints of both insider and other. Contributors explore diverse understandings of what it means to be "other" to a country, a culture, a society, or a subgroup. This book offers a fresh perspective on the evolving concept of identity and expands on the existing literature by considering the political tensions and social implications of the development of European identity, as well as its literary, artistic, and cultural manifestations.

Critique: An impressive collection of seminal works of outstanding scholarship throughout, "Europe in Its Own Eyes, Europe in the Eyes of the Other" is an especially recommended addition to academic library Contemporary European Cultural Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Range War Hell
Ryan Bodie
Lindford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444813807, $20.99, 188pp,

Synopsis: Memories of a bloody feud were re-awakened between the mighty Doubletree and Rancho Antigua cattle country giants. Honest settlers had moved out - replaced by those of the new breed. They called them gunfighters, but they were killers, lethal gunmen and drifters. They soon turned any troubled territory into a graveyard. Then, a lone man with a gun arrived. Long forgotten over the years by the people of Fort Such - his arrival brought the feud to explosion point.

Critique: A simply terrific western tale of feuding ranches, an ancient grudge, two star-crossed lovers, and a plan to exact revenge on 'both their houses', "Range War Hell" is a deftly written novel that grips the reader's total and rapt attention from first page to last. A rewarding, entertaining, large print, western novel, "Range War Hell" is very highly recommended reading and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Large Print fiction collections.

Fortress Palomino
Michael D. George
Lindford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444818857, $20.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: As the grasslands of War Smoke fill with steers for the coming trail drives, Marshal Matt Fallen wires other lawmen for help in keeping his town peaceful until the drift moves north. Kid Palomino and his sidekick, Red Rivers, heed the call and ride in to help. When they discover that notorious bandit Santiago Del Rosa has crossed the border with his gang, they don't hesitate to leap into action. Can Kid and Rivers stop Santiago before more blood is spilled?

Critique: From it's sudden violet opening to its unexpected plot twist of an ending, Michael George's "Fortress Palomino" is guaranteed to hold the reader's total and rapt attention from literarily the first page to the last. A terrific western novel by a master of the genre, "Fortress Palomino" is enthusiastically recommended in this large print edition.

International Intervention in a Secular Age
Audra Mitchell
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, NY, NY 10017-9209
9780415705066, $140.00, 216pp,

Synopsis: "International Intervention in a Secular Age: Re-Enchanting Humanity?" explores the Western secular beliefs that underpin contemporary practices of intervention - most importantly, beliefs about life, death and the dominance of humanity. These beliefs shape a wide range of practices: the idea that human beings should intervene when human lives are at stake; analyses of violence and harm; practices of intervention and peace-building; and logics of killing and letting die. Ironically, however, the Western secular desire to ensure the meaningfulness of human life at all costs contributes to processes of dehumanization, undercutting the basic goals of intervention. To explore this paradox, International Intervention in a Secular Age engages with examples from around the world, and draws on interdisciplinary sources: anthropologies of secularity and IR, posthumanist political philosophy, ontology and the sociology of death. "International Intervention in a Secular Age: Re-Enchanting Humanity?" offers new insight into perennial problems, such as the reluctance of intervenors to incur fatalities, and international inaction in the face of escalating violence. It also exposes new dilemmas, such as the dehumanizing effects of quantifying casualties, Western secular logics of killing, and the appropriation of lives and deaths through peace-building processes.

Critique: An impressive and seminal work of meticulous scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a nine page bibliography and a comprehensive index, "International Intervention in a Secular Age: Re-Enchanting Humanity?" by Aurda Mitchell (Lecturer in the Politics Department, University of York, United Kingdom) is a strongly recommended addition to academic library collections in general, and to the supplemental reading lists for International Relation Studies, Political Philosophy Studies, International Ethics Studies, and Social Anthropology Studies supplemental curriculum reading lists. It should be noted that "International Intervention in a Secular Age: Re-Enchanting Humanity?" is also available in a Kindle edition ($112.00).

It will be of great interest to students and scholars of international relations, political philosophy, international ethics and social anthropology.

Dream Interpretation Ancient and Modern
John Peck, et al.
Princeton University Press
41 William Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
9780691159454, $35.00,

Carl Gustav Jung (26 July 1875 - 6 June 1961), often referred to as C. G. Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of extraversion and introversion; archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, philosophy, archeology, anthropology, literature, and related fields. He was a prolific writer, many of whose works were not published until after his death.

Dream Interpretation is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. In many ancient societies, such as those of Egypt and Greece, dreaming was considered a supernatural communication or a means of divine intervention, whose message could be unraveled by people with certain powers. In modern times, various schools of psychology and neurobiology have offered theories about the meaning and purpose of dreams. One of the earliest and most enduring of these schools of thought is called Jungian Psychology and includes the archetypal interpretation of dreams.

Collaboratively edited by the team of Jungian analysts John Peck and Lorenz Jung, as well as Maria Meyer Grass (Lecturer, University of Innsbruck), "Dream Interpretation Ancient and Modern: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1941" is a 320 page compendium comprised of fourteen seminal papers contributed by experts and researchers in Jungian psychology on Carl Jung's original lectures in Zurich, Switzerland on children's dreams and the historical literature on dram interpretation. A critically important body of impressive scholarship, enhanced with the inclusion of an eight page bibliography and a comprehensive index, "Dream Interpretation Ancient and Modern: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1941" is strongly recommended as a core addition to academic library Jungian Studies and History of Psychology reference collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted that "Dream Interpretation Ancient and Modern: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1941" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.25).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Timepieces Masterpieces of Chronometry
David Christianson
Firefly Books
66 Leek Crescent, Richmond Hill, ON, Canada, L4B 1H1
9781552976548, $15.95, 160pp, Hardcover,

Timepieces Masterpieces of Chronometry is a book having 176 pages including a timeline illustrating the moneymaking development of timepieces including clocks and watches set onto the inside and back cover pieces.

Horological historian David Christianson a certified Master Watchmaker for more than a quarter century brings his skill and proficiency to bear with his publication TIMEPIECES Masterpieces of Chronometry.

A table of contents includes an introduction on page 6, 8 chapters, launched on page 18 and lasting to page 161 is followed on page 162 with a Glossary of terms the reader may need to fully understand some of the intricate nuances, page 173 begins a section having Sources and Further Reading for the interested, Acknowledgements and Index features a two page spread 174 - 175, and Picture Credits are provided on page 176.

The Celestial Clock, the natural timekeeper in the sky expressing the passage of time is described. The narrative is underscored with use of many graphics depicting some of the methods early man used to show the passage of time. From water flow to sun dials to astronomer priests to armillary spheres and more, humans have wanted to track time from the earliest days.

Chapter 1: A Call to Prayer, and monastery bells regulated every part of the day for the early Christian community. Other religious groups including Judaism and Islam have long called for prayer to be recited often during the day, nature often played, and even yet is often a part for determining when, sunup dusk etc. to pray. At other times devices are relied upon.

This chapter too is chock-full with many illustrations showing early time devices including astronomical compendium, clockwork gearing, early clocks some dating to 945, a 1345 astrarium and more.

Chapter 2: The Priceless Possessions of a Few chronicles early domestic clocks of the 14th century. These smaller versions of the huge clocks of earlier days became popular as numerous of the ruling class developed interest in the devices.

Watchmaking guilds soon established, ornate clocks were all the fashion. With the use of the pendulum tracking time became more defined.

Chapter 2 is brimming with graphics, photos and the like showing some clock makers and some of the clocks they developed.

Chapter 3: From Tabletop to Waistcoat and Beyond presents the introduction of the wound mainspring during the 15th century and the influence the spring had on time pieces.

Craft guilds prospered in England and throughout Europe. Guilds were initiated to shield guild members from competitors as well as to regulate wages, market prices and the market itself.

Chapter 3: displays many visuals including a copy of an oil painting, the portrait shows a wealthy man holding a pocket watch circa 1558. Numerous watches are presented with case open to allow viewing of the early balance wheel and hairspring. A succession of watches permits the reader to visualize how the watch has changed.

Chapter 4: The Craft Era in Watch Making. Watch Making, separate from clock making, was focused in a small area for the first 300 years of its history. Beginning in central Italy during the 15th century watch making began expanding near the turn of the 18th century.

Small manageable timepieces, to be carried in the pocket became decidedly ornamental pieces. Graphics highlighting everything from a 17th century clockmaker's shop, to many pocket watches, to table top models are scattered in the pages of Chapter 4. Especially interesting; a copy of the Geneva Rules of 101 (Abridged) with rules and regulations governing the Corporation of Watchmakers is included. Watches featured run the range of very early to modern.

Chapter 5: With The Industrial Revolution came necessity for the work force to be in the factory or other place of work at a particular time. Should the whistle from the factory's steam engine did not awaken employees, then window tappers were sent to get the workforce on their feet.

Need for accurate time during the Industrial revolution propelled mass production methods for fabricating many watches with innumerable shops accountable for turning out precise portions of the whole. Eli Terry, master clockmaker of Plymouth, Connecticut turned out 4,000 wooden gear clocks between 1807 and 1810; this activity was the first effective mass production in America regarding a product having exchangeable parts.

Graphics embrace wood cuts displaying factories producing watches and watch parts, as well as a copy of a painting of Eli Terry. A photo of an Eli Terry mass produced wooden gear movement, mantle clocks, watches, and even a, 1896 photograph showing a group of workmen busy in the press department of the movement shop belonging to Wm. L. Gilbert Clock Company's factory in Winsted, Connecticut.

Chapter 6: A Mountain Industry Explodes details how families began specializing with each member working on explicit watch components in the mountain range forming the frontier between Switzerland and France. From copies of watch factories to pocket watches, this chapter is filled illustrations filled with beauty, and detail

While most of the early paintings, wood cuts and the like show only men fabricating watches or other time pieces, Women have had a part during nearly the whole of the history. Especially during the Industrial Revolution women and children too began working in the factories. During the 20th century women were accepted fully and began to seek training and pursue employment as watchmakers.

Chapter 7: The Standardization of Time and the necessity for solving the scientific problem regarding decrypting exact position while at sea came to the fore. With the dawn of the first sextant crafted by John Bird 1757 and the unwavering commitment of John Harrison, who is pictured with his H-4 chronometer which could keep time so accurately at sea that a ship's longitude could be determined, the conundrum plaguing seafaring nations began to become more practicable.

Many copies of painting showing several of the early inventors, sea farers and such are intermingled into the text where they add much to the narrative.

Chapter 8: The Quartz Revolution saw great progression in the perfecting of precision timekeeping. 1928 Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York State brought the development of the first quartz crystal clock by Warren A Marrison. For 4 centuries the standard of portable timepieces had been the balance wheel, and then in 1960 Bulova Watch Company developed a vibrating tuning fork, the invention of Swiss engineer Max Hetzel.

Smaller size and economical cost have caused timepieces to become common place. From many, beautiful watches showcased in detail to carefully drawn gears and the like labeled How the Mechanical Watch Works, and the similarly detailed How the Electric Watch Works; this chapter is a treasure trove for those enjoy the minutiae and history of stuff. I do.

The multi-page Glossary begins with Analogue display and ends with Zodiac. The glossary as well is jam-packed with photographs, tables, and drawings.

The Bibliography allows the reader to pursue more examination should that be a desired preference. The Index allows the reader to locate explicit areas of interest.

I found this work to be abundantly filled with scientific information presented in a straight forward, effortlessly read manner.

I enjoyed reading the book, and envisioning the evolution of time pieces from earliest days to the present.

Knowing that Writer Christianson is a capable craftsman who has served as president of the American Watchmakers and Clockmakers Institute, that he not only mentors regarding clock and watch restoration, and is a Fellow of the British Horological Institute, but that he also writes for Professional Jeweler and Watchmaking publications lends much to his credibility.

TIMEPIECES Masterpieces of Chronometry is a lovely work filled with the dedication to detail, and result of research presented by a renowned craftsman.

Fascinating read Happy to Recommended 5 stars

Monday Morning Motivation
David Cottrell
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061859380, $21.95, Hardcover: 192 pages,

Interesting read Recommended 4 stars

David Cottrell's Monday Morning Motivation Five Steps to Energize Your Team, Customers, and Profits is said by the author to be The Only Formula You Need To generate Positive Energy At Work.

The comprehensive Table of Contents prepares the reader for the work that is to follow:

Included in the Table of Contents is a Preface followed by 10 chapters divided into 3 Divisions and a Summary.

Part 1 The Power of Energy and Motivation


Chapter 1 The Formula: Einstein's E=mc2, is present by writer Cottrell as E demonstrating the dynamism found in the business, while m represents mass, is the people, work staff, within the business. c represent the conductors transferring energy while 2 typifies administration enthusiasm and the multiplier magnitude that dynamism has on the organization

Chapter 2 Why Energy and Motivation Leaks Occur: Cottrell notes stimulus only takes place when vivacity is rigorous throughout the business. Energy and Motivation Leaks ensue when the business is frequently pressed outside its limits by leaders having unreasonable or unattainable goals or methods for challenging outstanding short term outcomes.

Complacency, fostered by stress-free or long lasting success, can also work to influence Energy and Motivational leaks. The most noxious leak, in the appraisal of the writer, comes through weakening, consequent to in-house problems.

Chapter 3 Mass: Building the Right Organization: Cottrell asserts people making up the work team are the individuals who are the principal essential of the organization, and have in their proprietorship massive potential for completing desired objectives, and guarantee triumph.

Part 2 The Conductors of Energy and Motivation

Chapter 4 Synchronization: Cottrell proclaims Synchronization is indispensable, when anything is out of sync, the work staff loses single-mindedness and begins to go stale. Simplify Objectives help keep the time in sync.

Chapter 5 Speed: Cottrell states speed can be used to standardize, adjust and modify administrative strategies.

Chapter 6 Communication: Cottrell suggests an indicator vis-a-vis the importance of worthy communication; Cottrell notes companies expending concentrated, operative internal communication is more likely to return larger profits to stakeholders.

Chapter 7 Customer Passion: found among successful especially thriving enterprises is a common theme per Cottrell, employee preparation and consumer appetite are entwined. Employees having empathetic feelings of concern for the employer, and receives training in how to meet the prerequisites of the customer is a more productive employee.

Chapter 8 Integrity: per Cottrell, is the keystone of governance. Integrity is a by-product of trust. Honesty leads to trust and is the secret to good communication.

Part 3 Optimizing Your Resources

Chapter 9 The Leader's Impact on Energy: because passion generates dynamism, Cottrell proclaims, passion both uncovers prospects and kindles quest toward objectives.

Chapter 10 The Final Word: points the reader toward things to recall including the notion that Leaders generally get what they do. An involved leader having superior ideals and making good decisions, and, ability to get the right people in the right job have greater success.

The Summary is roughly a framework of the book with the major points as points of the outline.

Three Ways to Bring Monday Morning' Motivation into Your Organization lists a powerpoint of the main concepts noted in the book, suggests inviting the author to come and speak to the reader's employees, and advocates holding a motivational workshop for employees. Contact information for contacting Cottrell and the CornerStone Leadership group is provided.

Acknowledgments: lists those to whom writer Cottrell feels he owes a debt for encouragement, direction and mentoring.

Right from the dust jacket protecting the cover and continuing through the pages of the copy, the reader is provided much to contemplate vis-a-vis how to attain the greatest by leaders or others in the position of authority engendering optimistic energy as is found in efficacious organizations.

Chapter pages are packed with small boxes having significant data interspersed in the text. Frequently the writer provides a Three Things You Will Do segment for the reader to use for penning quick notes, margins are wide and chapter end pages have enough blank area for the writer to set down additional notes.

As with all instructional type materials, I find books having margins and blank areas particularly convenient, I am a highlighter, note jotter type of informational text reader.

It is author Cottrell's understanding that Einstein's theory of relativity reaches outside the realm of science, and by using some of Einstein's principles and relating them to the world of business, enlightenment for the vitality found in effective, high-achieving groups can be set down.

Cottrell sets about explaining what organization energy is by explaining what it is not.

Writing is lucid, succinct, stress-free to follow and is well presented.

I find Monday Morning Motivation to be a highly understandable work filled with in depth material concerning how to galvanize and sustain the verve needed to spur a team, office, partner or entire working force toward a productive, common goal.

Writer Cottrell notes that stimulus needs dynamism before it can boost anyone toward achieving targets.

I can see that this work would likely prove advantageous for those in business or other settings where oomph, encouragement and fervor of the leader is anticipated to constructively prompt the work force.

Monday Morning Motivation is a nominee for the Business owner, or manager book shelf, the MBA's reading list or anyone who finds themselves in the position to superintend and hearten a group of workers in a constructive, satisfying manner.

David Cottrell is president and CEO of CornerStone Leadership Institute, prov0iding education, speakers and leadership consultants.

A resident of Horseshoe Bay, Texas, Cottrell has written some 25+ books, is a recognized motivational speaker.

Cry of The Fish Eagle
Peter Rimmer
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781497412576, $14.00, Paperback, 386 pages,

Peter Rimmer's Cry of the Fish Eagle begins in 1943 with Flying Officer, pilot, Rupert Pengelly shouting "For God's sake, JUMP!"

The book is divided into 4 sections, books 1, 2, 3, and 4. Book one covers the years 1943 -1946. It is a time filled with war, realization that the family home in Cornwall is mortgaged to the hilt, and loss of friends. The loss of Rigby Savage and a promise made to him by Rupert will follow Rupert for the rest of his life.

Book 2 begins in 1952 with Sasa Savage just 17 when Rupert moves onto his farm in Southern Rhodesia. Rupert, aged 28, wanted to make good on a promise made to Rigby concerning his daughter Sasa. However, finding her was proving more difficult than he had anticipated.

Book 3 opens in 1964, introduces the reader to Piccadilly Brown among others, continues discussion of war in various theaters, and continues Rupert's life, dreams and hopes.

Book 4 covers the span of 1972 -1979; guerilla activity, terrorists wreak havoc, and Rupert's promise to Rigby had been fulfilled. Life had been difficult, but worth it.

I enjoyed this book. The author's character development is admirable, dialog is realistic, and believable, the well-drawn story line is compelling, draws the reader into the work, and maintains a hold from opening lines to last paragraph.

An excellent read for those interested in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and the transitions time has wrought. A somewhat melancholy, sad country, the tale nevertheless manages to present the pathos of the time without resorting to maudlin. The history is something to be remembered and not swept away too quickly.

Cry of the Fish Eagle presents a saga filled with the lives of numerous related families during the declining days of Rhodesia.

At 324 pages, the work begins with a few characters, builds in scope and depth as the chronicle continues. The tale develops as Rupert Pengelly, WW2 war pilot first tries to fulfill a promise to a friend who did not live through the war, and then Rupert's return to Cornwall where he plans to live in on the family estate is thwarted through chicanery. Rather than mope over his reversal of fortune, Pengelly moves forward to forge a life for himself, and does so with grace and aplomb.

A brief glossary with terms perhaps unknown to those living outside Zimbabwe is included.

The work closes with a page to introduce Rimmer's soon to be published work, Vultures in the Wind.

Peter Rimmer's daughter indicates writer Rimmer, was born in London, England, where he grew up and went to school.

After the WW2, the 18 year old Rimmer joined the Royal Air Force, reached the rank of Pilot Officer and at the end of his National Service Rimmer set sail for Rhodesia where he planned to grow tobacco.

Rimmer founded a highly successful insurance brokering company in Johannesburg. He opened companies in the United States of America, Australia and Hong Kong and travelled extensively between the branches.

By the 1990's Rimmer had written several novels about Africa; Cry of the Fish Eagle was first published by HarperCollins, Zimbabwe and became a bestseller.

Rimmer now retired from his business career continues writing from his home in Africa.

Interesting read Highly Recommended 5 stars

Available as download for Kindle and paper, I received a paper ARC from the author's publicist, his daughter.

Landslides, Slumps, & Creeps
Peter Goodwin
Franklin Watts
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780531158975, $14.45, Paperback: 64 pages,

Series: First Books--Earth & Sky Science
Reading level: Middle Grade - High School Reader, YA
Interesting read; Recommended; 5 stars

Landslides, slumps, & Creeps by Robert Goodwin is a A First Book designed for the middle grade set.

The work comprised of a Table of Contents, 5 Chapters, a Conclusion, Glossary, For Further Reading and an Index as well as a brief note regarding the author.

Slides on Giant Mountain discusses the June 1962, Keene Valley, New York State slides, 15 major slides on the face of the mountain following a steady downpour. The author explains his interest in part results in his seeing the results of the slides as a child.

The landslides on Giant Mountain are examples of mass wasting. Mass Wasting is the downward movement of rock and soil, often mixed with water. Goodwin explains that when the movement is rapid it can be especially dangerous because they catch people unaware.

Goodwin goes on to explain slump and creep, other types of mass wasting. Slumps tend to move short distances and to pile up at the bottom. Creep takes place slowly moving 1/2 inch or so over a year, this is the type of activity most noticeable when gazing across a fence, cemetery or tree row and the fence posts, gravestones or trees are leaning downhill.

Snow Avalanche is another type of mass wasting.

Chapter two goes into greater detail to explain the many categories of separate types of mass wasting and slides, creep, slumps and avalanches. Large pictures are added throughout the work, these are in color and really illustrate the creep, slide or whatever is being discussed.

Chapter 3 goes into detail regarding causes for Mass Wasting. Water is often causal with creep, slide and slump. Hardened mud, rock strata, erosion caused by ocean waves are all pictured to show clearly and easily for young readers.

Climate, people, result of fire, result of construction can all contribute to mass wasting. Road cuts in particular can lead to Watch for Falling Rock signs.

Chapter 4 lists several Historic Landslides including the 1980 Mount Saint Helens slide following the eruption of the volcano. In early 1925 a large landslide occurred in Wyoming, so much dirt and rock slid off the mountain and dammed the Gros Ventre River. Nearly 2 years later when the dam broke the town of Kelly was destroyed but was rebuilt later.

1970, 2 towns were destroyed in 1970 in Peru when an earthquake broke loose a huge block of ice on Mount Huascaran. Nearly 2,000 people were killed in Ranrahirca, however a part of the slide went over a ridge, landed on the town of Yungay where 17,000 people died and mud covered the town leaving only the church steeple appearing above the mud.

1826 Crawford Notch New Hampshire Landslide in the White Mountains buried a family as they ran from their house. The irony of the situation was, the slide split just above the house, house was untouched. Oxen in the barn were safe, however, the family was gone. The scar of the slide is still visible on the face of the mountain.

The Vaiont Dam Landslide, 1963 is mentioned and has a full page, black and white photo of the slide, 1959 following an earthquake in Montana the side of a mountain fell into the river valley where debris formed what was later named Earthquake Lake. A view of that Earthquake Lake, in color, shows a beautiful area.

Chapter 5 addresses Preventing Mass Wasting construction sites in flat surfaces have less mass wasting, however, on side of mountain it is difficult to prevent mass wasting. Risky areas can be identified. Avalanches often follow the same tracks year after year. Core samples to analyze soil types can be taken prior to construction. Geologists look at rock layers when determining chances an area will slide.

Techniques for preventing mass wasting are discussed including shelters can be constructed to protect roads from frequent avalanches, gabions, wire baskets filled with or cement walls constructed on hillsides help hold the soil in place. To prevent large rocks from falling onto roads from cliffs crews may use large bolts to hold the rocks in place, or, terraces or steps may be cut into the hillside. Rocks will fall, but will land on the steps rather than rolling on down the roadway.

Mass wasting due to erosion often appears where moving water is present. Waves along the shore continue to make the shoreline steeper. Rip Rap is one method for containing erosion along the shoreline. Often placed near bridges rip rap are large rocks set to help stabilize the shore.

The two page glossary begins with bond and continues to send with surface tension. The terms explained will help the middle grade - YA reader better understand some of the terms used.

The two page index used in conjunction with the table of contents helps young readers locate various areas of study.

While this book is not one most first grade students might read, the pictures added to the text, news accounts on television and recent tremors we have experienced in Oklahoma have heighted Osage County First Grade interest in all things to do with earth movements, slumps, slides, quakes and all. I have the book available for children to take for free time reading.

The book presents opportunities for discussion, and is helping to ease the worry my students have begun to develop.

I find the writing used to be straight forward, to the point, well developed and easy to read, understand and is interesting to boot. Reader interest is held from first page to the last.

Happy to recommend for the middle grade - mid high school level student who may have an interest in the shifts and movements of the earth upon which we live.

First books is a series of science oriented works written by a diversity of authors, all educators or other experts in their fields. Other titles in the series include A Grand Canyon Journey, Sand on the Move, Tundra, A Look at Rocks, Floods, and more. Books are offered as hard cover and paperback.

Active Literacy Across the Curriculum
Heidi Hayes Jacobs
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781596670235, $34.95, Paperback, 152 pages,

Interesting read; Recommended; 5 stars

Active Literacy Across the Curriculum: Strategies for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening is a work of 138 pages having Table of Contents, including a foreword, Acknowledgments and 7 chapters addressing role of educators, the teaching of English, and more, in addition a Bibliography.

Dr Hedi Hayes Jacobs, Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and President of Curriculum Designers, Inc., is an worldwide professional recognized for her expertise in the fields of core curriculum and education. Dr. Jacobs has functioned as an education consultant to schools across the world, and is especially renowned her in the US regarding matters and practices relating to: curriculum mapping, dynamic instruction, and 21st century strategic planning and standardized testing.

Chapter headings are enlightening 1. Revising Roles: Every Teachers Becomes an Active Language Teacher, 2. Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Employing Three Distinctive Types of Vocabulary, 3. Creative Notetaking: Activating Extraction and Reaction from Texts, 4 Editing and Revising Independently: Using a Consistent Developmental Policy in Every K-12 Classroom,5 speaking and Listening in Groups: working with the Discussion, 6 Turning the Speaking/Listening Instrument: Giving Voice Lessons in Each Classroom, Mapping Active Literacy: Revising and Integrating Curriculum Maps K-12.

The Foreword begins with 2 quotes, one from Lord Byron, the other from Mark Twain. Rachel Billmeyer asserts that it is more significant than ever that educators move to cultivate strategic learners as students become dynamic thinkers. Further Billmeyer notes that accumulation of information is a vibrant progression; plus and notably, learning is an action of fabrication of meaning from the mental storing of curriculum content.

The foundation of writer Jacob's book is that each educator, at any grade level in any curriculum area is a language teacher. The teaching of English as a foreign language by employing 3 specific types of active vocabulary. Vocabulary needs to be built of high frequency words, specialized terminology and embellishments. High frequency words is the language generally introduced by educators, and are the ones basic to learning the subject matter. High frequency words appear again and again during student learning sessions. Specialized terminology is the vocabulary focused on highly contextualized application to specific curriculum fields or disciplines, words should be said aloud, explained, defined, paraphrased, and understanding demonstrated. Embellishments include the synonyms for specific words, the refinements and adjectives to convey deeper grasp of the subject.

Reading is more than merely moving the eye's across a page of printed symbols. Reading is thinking prompted by the text; the implication of the words set down are generated by the reader as a consequence of the response between the reader and the text on the page.

Writer Hayes states that language capability is the foundation of all student performance. Hayes notes that the attainment of a classroom learning experience rests on student language aptitude. Hayes states further that the need to read, write, speak and listen successfully is central to every curriculum subject, in every grade, and in every class learners will ever attend.

As a classroom teacher I read with interest that Hayes notes the fulfillment of that need is complicated by learning standards established at the state level that are written as if all children are confident in standard English usage. Hayes states what teachers have known for years; every standardized test, whether a state or national instrument is principally a reading test. And, if the test taker is not a skilled reader, with a broad vocabulary filled with standard English words, then the test taker is going to face problems with the language used in the test; including words like determine, summarize, select and more.

Hayes offers 7 critical stratagems for revising current educational practice. These strategies include increasing the role of every educator so that instructors recognize themselves as language teachers who will separate vocabulary into 3 unique categories with each educator having distinctive instructional approaches in each classroom K-12. Teachers will begin guiding student toward building innovative notetaking approaches designed to cause an extraction and response mode in students as opposed to a passive receptive approach.

Further Hayes notes that a formal approach for teaching communication skills by developing four assessable discussion types in students via using of direct technical instruction that promotes the use of voice and personal involvement as a speaking and communication instrument to develop poise, confidence and power for each student in every classroom is the best method for assuring student success.

Ultimately Hayes endorses use of Curriculum Mapping as a coalescing, schoolwide vehicle for developing formal benchmark assessments for guaranteeing active mastery in every subject and on every level.

Hayes promotes using dependable editing and revision for writing in every class K - 12 be used as a technique for furthering the language education development all students must cultivate in order to achieve success in learning curriculum requirements in addition to readying the students for taking the standardized tests so popular as THE assessment for determining student success and teaching success and ability.

I found Active Literacy Across the Curriculum: Strategies for Reading, Writing, speaking, and Listening to be a well written, easily understood text filled with good writing, based on an interesting premise and useful for the classroom teacher.

Hayes makes an excellent case for the systematic development of the vocabulary students need in order to achieve success.

Happy to recommend Active Literacy Across the Curriculum: Strategies for Reading, Writing, speaking, and Listening for every school administrator book shelf, for the college professor's required reading book list and for those who teach whether in the classroom or other setting. Dandy as tuck in gift for the novice teacher beginning his/her career.

Penny from Heaven
Jennifer L. Holm
Random House
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375936876, $6.99, Library Binding: 288 pages

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Writer Jennifer Holm pens a fast paced, charming, middle grade/YA work, Penny From Heaven.

Filled with the same breezy writing style Holm used in her Baby Mouse series; Penny From Heaven introduces us to eleven-year-old Barbara Ann Falucci whose Daddy really liked Bing Crosby, and especially his song Pennies from Heaven.

Presented in the first person the narrative originates with speaker, Penny Falucci, explaining that Me-Me, Penny's grandmother, says heaven is full of fluffy white clouds and angels.

Penny has no desire for dying and Me-Me's portrayal of heaven does not sound all that heavenly for her granddaughter. Penny's thoughts of heaven are more butter pecan ice cream and lots of it, and swimming pools, and baseball games. And the Dodgers always win, and Penny has the best seat in the stadium; the one right behind the Dodgers' dugout.

The only people who ever call her Barbara are Penny's teachers at school.

Penny's summer has begun much as have most previous summers. Penny's father is deceased and Penny and her mother and grandparents live in a house that is generally pretty quiet. Penny's secretary mom is often gone for long hours at work. Penny's somewhat unconventional grandmother, Me-Me, is a really appalling cook whose culinary talent is filled with things involving liver and meatloaf. And Penny leads the reader to understand Me-Me's liver is substandard to her pot roast, then again, the pot roast is inferior to her Stroganoff. Penny relates that the reader doesn't want to know about Me-Me's meatloaf.

Pop-Pop, Penny's Grandpa, is a man who is somewhat deaf, always ready with inapt observations, leans toward over assessment regarding his house repair skills. His lack of plumbing expertise is particularly onerous.

Penny's Italian father came from a family filled with lots of brothers and his mother. Penny sees them all the time and she loves them, a lot, nevertheless she misses her father.

Despite Penny's best effort for pairing her mother with Uncle Dominic, Penny's favorite uncle, it just doesn't work. Uncle Dominic's 1940 Plymouth Roadking has been parked in the side yard of Grandmother Falucci's house for as long as Penny can remember. In 1953 New Jersey it is not really a usual matter that someone might be living in their car. Uncle Dominic lives in that car.

And it is summer. School's out, Penny is playing baseball, hanging out with her best friend Frankie, playing baseball. Delivering groceries with Frankie who just happens to be her cousin and best friend. On the other hand, Penny can't go swimming, she can't go to the movies, In 1953, before a vaccine to prevent childhood polio, Penny's mother is apprehensive that Penny might develop the dread disease.

Penny considers that so far; it has been a pretty good summer. That is until her mother begins dating.

And there is one other thing, no one will tell her how her dad died. Everyone just says he died in the hospital.

And everyone says Grandpa has a hidden cache of money.

Day after day passes quickly. Frankie keeps coming up with one plot or another for locating Grandpa's hidden stash. Frankie is positive the money must be secreted somewhere in the house or the yard. Frankie has good reason for wanting to locate the money; he is anxious to help his mother. As soon as Frankie's father gets a jobs; he loses it just about as fast. Money is always short.

Author Holm has intertwined a delightful narrative within a story. On the one hand the reader spends the summer and autumn with Penny Falucci and her loving and fun loving extended family. Penny's maternal relatives are home, Mom and apple pie American with Penny, Me-Me, Pop-Pop and Mom. While Penny's Falucci relatives encompass many uncles, aunts, cousin and Nonny-Grandma is the pillar of the family. While the two parts of Penny's family know one another well, they actually have little contact.

The story within a story begins to surface during the last chapters of the book.

Nonny and Penny's father Alfredo-Freddy were born in Italy prior to Grandpa moving his young family to the United States. Nonny and two year old Freddy soon made friends, more children were born and then Grandpa died before citizenship was decided for Nonny. No one thought much about the citizenship until the start of World War II.

Freddy had initiated his citizenship papers however had not completed them at the beginning of the war. The happenings regarding Freddy Falucci and circumstances of his death have been carefully guarded as a never spoken family secret. The secret is kept even from Penny. It is not until Penny experiences a major accident that the undisclosed is at last brought into the open.

Penny learns that apprehension and fright experienced by many US citizens during the war years often developed into prejudice and a obligation per Proclamation 2527 signed by President Roosevelt that all 600,000 non naturalized Italian -enemy aliens- were to register as a non American, and would face a number of limitations including enemy aliens could not own a radio with short wave capability, could not own a flashlight, camera, or a weapon and could not speak Italian. These enemy aliens were required to be fingerprinted and to carry pink ID booklets declaring them as enemy aliens.

Writer Holm, herself of Italian descent, has woven the terrible fear parents of my childhood harbored regarding the horror of polio along with much of her own family emigre background into Penny From Heaven. Polio was a chief worry and crippling devastator of children prior to the 1960s when a vaccine was introduced to prevent its spread.

Writer Holm has fashioned a vibrant, highly readable, kid pleasing, work of fiction filled with historic settings and landscapes. Active, lively writing chockfull with generational gap, captivating players, thought-provoking situations, an effective female, central character, along with fascinating sub-plots all add up to a pleasurable, coming-of-age work.

Penny From Heaven is sure to stir the attention of upper elementary and middle school readers. The book works well for middle grade classroom library, the school and home library, and will make a nice addition to the Social Studies list of books pertaining to particular eras in our shared history.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

Red Sky Radio
Matt Howarth
Merry Blacksmith Press
70 Lenox Ave., West Warwick RI 02893
97800615520698, 248 pages, $13.00,

Set in the far future, this book is about a group of freelancers who harvest gases from a Jovian planet.

Peri Fairchild is one of the divers who has been physically modified to survive in vacuum. She could become very rich harvesting gases from the gas giant Baltuss, but she is addicted to diving. All of the freelance divers live in an abandoned space hotel. Harvest Corp., the corporation who runs the harvest operation, considers the divers to be pirates, and would love to destroy the space hotel, if only they could find it (it's not as easy as it sounds). Another big headache for Harvest is the existence of Red Sky Radio, a pirate radio station that plays really good music, instead of the boring crap that comes from Harvest.

Dezi is an older miner, who has several personal secrets. He also loves to start rumors, just to see what will happen. He whispers to Peri that Harvest has developed killer robot drones, to pick off the "pirates" one at a time. During a mining trip in Baltuss' atmosphere, Peri spots one, and freaks out. None of the other miners will believe her. During another mining trip, accompanied by Juul, a recent defector from Harvest, Peri spots another "drone" and Juul shoots it with his laser gun. They have just done what Harvest has been unable to do for years, put Red Sky Radio off the air.

The other miners are convinced that this is the just the first move by Harvest Corp., and that the "final battle" is coming. Dezi admits to Peri and Juul that he is behind Red Sky Radio. It will take money to repair the transmitter, so Peri is obligated to go gas mining, for real this time. Meantime, one of Dezi's "secrets" causes the destruction of the entire Harvest Corp. base, and the moon on which it was built. Can both sides find a way to work together?

This is a very well-written story. It's nice and weird, and the inclusion of pirate radio certainly helps. The reader will not go wrong with this one.

Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
Martin J. Blaser, MD
Henry Holt & Company, LLC
175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010
9780805098105, $28.00, 288 pages

This book looks at the harm that is being done to the human body by modern medicine, especially by the overuse of antibiotics, one of the greatest health discoveries of the last century.

First of all, if a person is suffering from some major ailment, and antibiotics have been shown to work in the past, then don't hesitate to take them. But, taking antibiotics for every sniffle and sore throat is a terrible idea. Penicillin, for instance, is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. That means that it does not just kill the "bad" bacteria, it also kills beneficial bacteria (yes, there is such a thing). Out of, say, a million cold germs, at least one will be resistant to penicillin. With the "good" bacteria, that may have neutralized all of those cold germs, out of the way, that penicillin-resistant germ is now free to multiply without restrictions. Maybe it turns into penicillin-resistant flu, or even worse, pneumonia. What does the person do now?

According to the author, overuse of antibiotics starts in early childhood. A baby spends nine months in a sterile environment before being born. It's first exposure to beneficial bacteria and microbes comes from going through the mother's birth canal. Wiping babies clean, as soon as they are born, while understandable, is a bad idea. Taking a baby by caesarian section, purely for convenience, totally bypassing the birth canal, is an even worse idea (if the life of the mother or the baby is in danger, then, by all means, do a c-section).

Nearly all types of farm animals are fed antibiotics to keep them healthy, or fatten them up for slaughter. Some portion of those antibiotics will end up in the milk you drink, or the meat you eat. The lack of "good", disease-fighting, bacteria in the human body may be behind the recent huge rise in allergies, digestive diseases, asthma or some types of cancer.

This is a huge eye-opener, and it will give the reader plenty to consider. It is very highly recommended for everyone.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

The Abduction of Joshua Bloom
Michael L. Thal
Solstice Publishing
614 Wal-mart Drive, Farmington, MO. 63601
9781625260727, $16.99, 248 pages

One minute 16-year old Joshua Bloom was in Central Park running for his life from the zoo's escaped lion and the next instant he awoke on board a spaceship. Joshua soon learned he was abducted by a group of teen aliens from Oceana, a doomed planet. They are on a mission to find a new home for the remaining members of their civilization. They have their sights set on Earth and they have tapped Joshua to be their ambassador. Not only has he been abducted by aliens but he is inducted into the Oceanian Space Corps. While adapting to the routine and duties of everyday life on a spaceship, Joshua must also cope with a command structure dominated by women - the positive and the negative. In "The Abduction of Joshua Bloom" author Michael Thal boldly goes where no other YA authors dare go these days in his creation of a utopian world where smart young space travelers work together toward solutions to the Universe's most challenging puzzles - as opposed to a dystopian world where teens struggle to survive. Go ahead and teleport yourself into this intergalactic adventure of a lifetime for one brave young Earthling. Fans of the TV series "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." will like this book.

Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy
Jigar Shah
4100 Jackson Street, Denver, CO 80216
9780989353106, $21.95, 208 pages

Jigar Shah is the founder of SunEdison where he transformed the solar industry by creating a business model that offers solar power as a service in the form of Power Purchase Agreements, as opposed to marketing solar panels and equipment. In "Creating Climate Wealth," Shah explains that climate change presents us with countless opportunities to solve our energy needs, make trillions of dollars, and strengthen global economies. He maintains that the solutions and technology exist right now to achieve our clean energy goals by 2020. He then describes how this is possible through innovation and renovation. Innovation can be achieved not through new technology but by implementing existing technology with a new business model - which is really an old business model. Entrepreneurship and small businesses financed by Impact Investments, he insists, are the keys to expanding the future of clean energy.

In order to tackle the challenge of renovation, Shah teamed up with Sir Richard Branson and the Carbon War Room (CWR) to show existing companies the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency. In truth, most CEOs are more committed to their bottom lines than to cleaning up the environment. When clean energy operations save them money they don't hesitate to hop on board. Even climate change deniers understand the almighty dollar.

Shah's view of climate change as anything but a crisis is refreshing and inspiring. He is not marketing a theory. He is revealing a proven strategy which is currently providing clean energy solutions worldwide. Shah's common sense approach combined with his conversational tone make for a captivating and easy read. "Creating Climate Wealth" should be required reading for every human on planet Earth. There is a future and it's up to us to create it.

Haatchi & Little B: The Inspiring True Story of One Boy and His Dog
Wendy Holden
Thomas Dunne Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250063182, $22.99, 224 pages

This is the true story about Owen - aka Little B - a boy with a rare genetic disorder that affects his muscles. Because of his condition he copes with a lot of pain and many doctor visits. Owen is a very smart kid but sometimes he feels frustrated and angry about his disability. Owen needed a friend and every boy needs a dog. But most of the time Owen is confined to a wheel chair and a bouncing puppy likely would have frustrated him even more. Enter Haatchi a 5-month old Anatolian shepherd with an incredible hard luck story to match his big, brown soulful eyes. Rescued from a London rail yard after being hit by a train, Haatchi lost one rear leg and his tail. With his disability, Haatchi was of course the perfect pup for Little B. Though Wendy Holden's narrative too often lapses into bland reportage, she nonetheless recounts the series of little miracles that brought Haatchi and Little B together and the continued blessings that keep them together.

I Am Otter
Sam Garton
Balzer + Bray
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062247759, $16.99, 32 pages

This book is a spinoff of author Sam Garton's blog, "I am Otter: The Unheard Ramblings of a Modern Day Domestic Otter," which chronicles the escapades of Otter and Otter Keeper. In this episode, Otter must find a way to amuse herself and her best friend Teddy while Otter Keeper goes off to work. She decides to open a toast restaurant because toast is easy. However Teddy is a stuffed bear and is soon way in over his head. Hijinks and pandemonium erupt and are depicted with hilarious and thoroughly entertaining illustrations. The two-page spread of the kitchen disaster is a masterpiece. Otter blames Teddy for the mess and he disappears. But alert young readers will be able to spot Teddy's hiding place. Reminiscent of Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat - only funnier - "I Am Otter" is the perfect beginning to a brand new friendship. I trust there are more Otter adventures in store for readers.

Take the Dog Out!
Lynne Dempsey, author
Mandy Newham-Cobb, illustrator
Amazon Digital Services
PO Box 81207, Seattle, WA 98108
9780989787512, $9.95, 36 pages,

Coco is a cute little white dog who desperately wants to go outside and play. So she grabs her leash and makes the rounds begging for someone - anyone - to take her outside. But when each member of the family ignores her, Coco makes a big mess. This triggers the refrain: "Someone take the dog out!" The cartoon illustrations show the mischief one little dog can muster when she wants out. Searching for bones, barks, and the color red will engage pre-schoolers and makes this book fun to read aloud. "Take the Dog Out!" is a delightful, interactive dog story.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

God's Daughter (Vikings of the New World Saga Book 1)
Heather Day Gilbert
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781492880417, $13.00, 326 Pages

About the author: Heather Day Gilbert writes character-driven novels that go beyond the vows, capturing the triumphs and heartaches unique to married couples. A graduate of Bob Jones University, she's been married to her sweet Yankee husband for over sixteen years. After ten years of homeschooling and six years of writing, she really doesn't have many hobbies. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood.

About the book: One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America. In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a journey to North America.

But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself--and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.

Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God's Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir--daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America.

This novel is based heavily on the Icelandic Sagas.

Through our childhood history lessons we know of the tall, blond, brave, Viking men who travelled widely and fought fearlessly, we can all picture them. However, now, in a story, we get the opportunity to consider the women who were their wives and mothers, and take a glimpse into what their lives would have been like in those harsh times. For this story is based on a true character Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir who was the daughter-in-Law of Eiric the Red.

It is set in the tenth century and has a very powerful opening with Gudrid, who is a Chief's daughter, and training to be a seeress, witnessing a horrific act, one so cruel that it turns the young girl against her Viking gods, and sets her on the path to Christianity.

I have to say, this is a wonderful way to learn about the Vikings and their history. The author has done her research well, and we are transported back in time, with Gudrid, as she travels the seas with her third husband Finn, who is the leader of an expedition which is searching for the legendary Vinland off the coast of North America.

Gudrid, is, as one would expect, a very strong character, she is capable, caring, protective and strong for those who need her help, and yet she has a vulnerable side and is very beautiful which makes her the object of male attention. For a woman in her era, she has firm Christian beliefs, yet, although she follows them, she must obey her husband and follow the customs of her people.

Being an animal lover, I especially loved the female wolf, whom she rescues, despite its reputation as a fierce predator, and the ways it repays her.

Full of action and adventure, her story is one which brings into focus what life must really have been like for the people of those times, where the women needed to be as brave as the men and protective of each other.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this compelling story. The life of this strong woman, 'God's Daughter,' whose story has survived the passage of time, is brought to life again through the writings of this talented author.

For The Love of a Poet
Marilyn Z. Tomlins
Raven Crest Books
9780992670078, $15.00,

Genre: Romance,History

About the Author: Marilyn lives and writes in Paris. She writes whatever takes her fancy: spoof news, book reviews, posts for her website, gossip about showbiz stars and royalty, short stories, poetry - and books. She also reports crime. She was born in British Colonial Africa and is a British national. Eight years ago she became interested in the Second World War French serial killer, Dr Marcel Petiot, and she researched him for two years and then over the next two years she wrote her true-crime book DIE IN PARIS. Next, setting murder aside, she wrote the novel BELLA ... A FRENCH LIFE, an emotive love story set in Paris and the beautiful Normandy coastal region of France. Russia, a passion of hers, she has planned For the Love of a Poet for at least ten years.

About the book: 'I have been obsessed with this man for years. My parents say I have a crush on him. I have been telling them it is not a crush. It is reverence. Reverence not only for the man but so too for his talent: his poetry. If anyone asks me whether I have a wish, I will say, if only I can meet the poet Beretzkoy.' These are the wistful words of Tanya Brodovskaya. Her wish comes true, although the poet is a married man and the father of two sons, and soon a heady, passionate love affair begins. In a small, dilapidated dacha in a village south of Moscow, played out against a grim backcloth of Stalin's demonic rule of Russia, Tanya and her dissident poet live their love to the full, stealing precious and wonderful time, finding happiness in each other's arms although he continues to live with his wife and sons. But black clouds gather. The Man of Steel's policies threaten the couple's idyll. Their love will survive; they know it will. But will they?

Gerald Lombard, is on a mission, he is searching for Tanya Brodovskaya, he knows how to recognise her, and so he goes to Red Square, after all, he's been told, she is always there 'on any Wednesday.' Then he sees her, just as she had been described to him, and she agrees to tell her story, and so the biography begins...

This is the story of the love between an older man, and a naive young girl whom he met, in 1931, when she worked at the offices of Pravda in Moscow.
Tanya Brodovskaya, had been infatuated with the poet Boris Petrovich Beretzkoy, for a long time, however, on that day, when he took her hands in his, their lives were about to change forever.

As they say, love is blind, and when one is in such a state, nothing else matters, barriers such as age and marital status are overcome in the bat of an eyelid. Thus began their love affair, one in which Boris shaped her life, and she accepted the restrictions, making sacrifices, and giving up on dreams, freely, as only a woman who is in love will do.

It is Russia, Lenin has just died, and Stalin has taken over the reins of this enormous, harsh country. It is a country which is in a state of political unrest and turmoil, its people living in fear for their lives never knowing when they are going to be dragged away and interrogated, or deported to Siberia, some never to return...

Life for the Russian people is hard. The country is suffering from terrible famine, and pandemics ravage the country's population, who are already weak and living in terrible conditions.

As you read this book, you realise that not only are you following the lives of these two lovers, but you are also being given an insight into this turbulent period in Russian history.

The book I believe, is based on two real people, although the names have been changed. Through meticulous research, the author has written a very thought provoking and fascinating story, which lovers of modern history will enjoy.

Revised Orders
Irene Helenowski
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781304970978, $13.52, 264 Pages,

Genre: Science-fiction

In the first book of this series 'Orders of the Dimensions', Jane Kremowski and her team of graduate students work with their professor to make a box which will enable them to visit other dimensions.

In this, the sequel, encouraged by her friend Amber, Jane, yet again finds herself persuaded to enter the box.

This a sequel, in every sense of the word, and so I would strongly recommend that 'Order of the Dimensions' is read first.

The characters in this book are the same. Of course, in the different dimensions, they are totally different people, with different partners and lead totally different lives.

Fans of the first book will love the way that the original characters continue to evolve, and the villain becomes even more fiendish.

To tell more, I think, would spoil the book, all I can say though, is that this is an exciting, multi-faceted science fiction thriller, with plenty of twists and turns and a plot which will keep you on your toes.

So, give your brains a good scrub before you start reading this, otherwise you may never keep up. This is an amazing book, and a total must for science fiction and time travel fans.

The author has written a fast, exciting story, with a plot which will keep you guessing. And, for those who love this book, the author has just released the third book in this series 'Final Orders.'

Final Orders
Irene Helenowski
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781500202026, $9.03, 230 Pages,

Genre: Science-fiction

This series of books began with 'Order of the Dimensions', where Jane and her team of graduate students work, with their professor, on a box, which can transport people into different dimensions.

In the sequel, 'Revised Orders', Jane is tempted again by her friend Amber to enter the box and the adventures in different dimensions continued.

In this third book, there are many more dimensions, though the original characters remain throughout. However, one has to remember, of course, that in the different dimensions, the lives they lead, their priorities, families and whole character are totally different. I would heartily recommend that these books are read in sequence for the most enjoyment.

In 'Final Orders' there are many more dimensions, and the scientists are being forced to create even more. The world has changed, and The Orders, in many realms now hold power over life and death. They are now monitoring people, and have the ability to send unwanted people or groups into the null space. With the ability to look into the past or the future, hard choices have to be made, and manipulation, cover-ups, lies and deceit rule.

However, underlying it all, the story contains a strong vein of love and loyalty, with the characters trying to do what they feel is right, at that particular time, after all, who knows what their choice would have been in another dimension, or with the benefit of hindsight?

This is a really exciting story with many twists and turns. The complex plot keeps you on your toes, I found it compelling reading, and once I had started page turning, I couldn't stop until I had finished it.

For science fiction fans and those fascinated with time travel the theories in this book are fascinating and I would highly recommend it.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Teri's Bookshelf

Hemlock Lake
Catskill Mountains Mysteries
Carolyn J. Rose
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594148842, $25.95, Hardcover, 314 pages,

Change is one things that is difficult for most of us, especially if we do not need or want the change. For the small community of Hemlock Lake located in the Catskill Mountains, the local residents feel this way.

A new development near the lake of luxury homes will bring new money into the community but will also make the locals realize that their homes are old and shabby, not to mention their daily lives.

It is obvious that someone is not pleased with this new change and they are constantly writing graffiti and setting fires to delay this progress.

For Sergeant Dan Stone, Hemlock Lake is his family home, or was his family home. Now he has no family. His father is aged, living in a nursing home, and close to death. His wife recently died while on the lake and his brother shot himself. Since he is having problems with this, he has requested that he be the one investigating the events at Hemlock Lake. This should give him the time to grieve and also assist the law enforcement investigation.

"She'd loved the shadowed mountain, clean air, and bright water.

On her thirtieth birthday, the lake killed her."

Susanna died on the lake while visiting at the family cabin without Dan. Nat, Dan's brother was driving the boat when she died. He shot himself in the head. With his father knocking on death's door, Dan feels alone staying at the cabin. Is this what he needs to get beyond his grief?

Life in this peaceful community is difficult now that local residents have concluded that Dan is there to assist the developer who views Dan as a local. This is obvious to Dan when a rattlesnake in placed under a shirt inside his truck. Added to that, his great grandfather's double-barreled shotgun is missing from the cabin. Who would take it and why? Is someone trying to make it look like Dan is the one stopping the development?

Camille is new to the community and walks the line between the locals since she works for an elderly couple and the newcomers. What is her agenda? Why is she interested in Dan?

Hemlock Lake is a haunting and realistic tale with a grief-stricken protagonist. Dan must resolve his past to move onto the future inside a community living in the past refusing to step into the future. Both are similar and blind to what is most evident directly in front of them. The characters intermixing with the setting is masterly woven into a tapestry with more commonalities than differences. Even though dark with a depressing main character, Hemlock Lake reflects change in both the novel and the reader.

Carolyn J. Rose has written numerous novels with settings as varied as her travels. Also she has collaborated on other novels with her husband, Mike Nettleton. Hemlock Lake won second place in the Public Safety Writers Association 2011 Competition. The sequel to Hemlock Lake is Through a Yellow Wood.

Hemlock Lake is a tale the surges through your mind as the reader investigates the crime and the past through the eyes of Sergeant Dan Stone.

When I Grow Up I Want to the U.S. Navy!
Noah Tours an Aircraft Carrier!
Wigu Publishing
978193973023, $12.95, Paperback, 58 pages

How many children see a military uniform and immediately believe that their personal future will be in the military becoming a hero and fighting for our country? Whether it is a policeman, fireman, doctor, or the uniform of one the military branches, children know that these are honorable people who spend their life in service for the good of others.

Wicu Publishing captures these daydreams of the young and turns them into reality in this read along non-fiction book about life on a U. S. Navy aircraft carrier demystifying the real, everyday life aboard the USS Gerald Ford.

Noah's grandpa, Ed was in the Navy and tells his grandchildren of his many exploits during his time of service. Ed's wife, Marilyn, who is also the grandmother agrees that there is actual truth in some of the tales.

At a nearby port, a U. S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford is docked and Grandpa Ed is taking his grandchildren, Noah and Marina along for a tour of the boat.

This book even briefly explains the history of our Navy and the need for its continual vigilance intermixing drawings with photographs to best assist the reader in visualizing the events. Also included is a brief description of the carrier, the men and women on this ships with their various jobs, as well as explaining the dedication as the crew spends time away from their families.

Realistically, When I Grow Up I Want to Be the U. S. Navy perfectly shows the numerous jobs aboard the ship which in actuality is a city with its own zip code. Also incorporated into the book are the common vocabulary terms unique to ship life such as brig, deck, swabbing, sailor's quarters, mess deck, nuclear reactors, hangar deck, flight deck, and boost.

The possibility of danger aboard ships are also discussed especially regarding the precautions on the flight deck and around the nuclear reactor.

What is special about this book was its realism. Even these normal everyday non-combat duties can be dangerous such as the pilots taking off and landing on a ship as well as cautions around the nuclear reaction. Also discussed is the immense amount of specialized training and education to become skilled enough to be able to protect and save the citizens of our country.

In conclusion this short book is a picture and a drawing of the vessels belonging to a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) visually describing the functions and purpose of the many parts.

The author of this book is the staff of Wigu Publishing who have written many books in the When I Grow Up I Want to Be... series including their recent publications of the U. S. Army!, a Teacher!, and a Firefighter!. Upcoming books in this series include a Good Person!, a Nurse!, a Veterinarian!, a Race Car Driver!, and Green!.

When I Grow Up I Want to the U. S. Navy is an educational and fun tool for learning about an aircraft carrier.

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World
Carole P. Roman Author/Illustrator
Amazon Digital Services
Charleston, South Carolina
$9.99, 30 pages

The "If You Were Me and Lived In..." series offers a wonderful journey experiencing life in other countries with different languages, foods, and customs. How can anyone be completely prepared to visit any country? Reading a book by Carole P. Roman is the perfect introduction into other ways of life in other parts of the world.

Each short fact-based book is beautifully illustrated with pictures that perfectly match the words on the page giving the reader more than the information but utilizing the words into a realistic setting that is common for each country.

The basic format is similar for each book beginning with the geography and showing each country's place in regards to the world describing the country, the usual weather, the continent, bodies of water, and usually facts specific to the individual country. This is followed by a quick description and picturesque setting of the capital city.

With the focus being "If You Were Me and Lived In...", the you and me are very important with the next page including common names for children and how they address their parents while the illustrations are grounded in the home and family life.

Shopping is also included with a brief explanation of the money system and shopping in a local market while also showing how people are commonly dressed.

The most famous vacation spots are the next focus with the Taj Mahal in India, the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, the Hagia Sophia in Turkey, the Azores in Portugal, the Kirkenes Snowhotel in Norway, and Red Square in Moscow.

The food pages explain the common dishes, what is in them, how to eat them, and how to pronounce them as well as illustrating the usual method of cooking and eating these foods whether seated at a table or on the floor.

The sporting activities such as skiing in Norway, soccer in Portugal and Turkey, cricket in Kenya and India, as well as ice hockey, chess, and hide-and-go-seek in Russia continue to demonstrate the common aspects throughout the world.

Celebrations including the pronunciations along with a brief description of the reasons behind the event conclude the books with a compiled list of the foreign words on the last page.

Carole P. Roman is a retired social studies teacher who continues to educate the public through this series of books. She has won both the Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 and the Pinnacle Award- Best Children's Book in 2013 with her pirate series, Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life as well as the Clarion Five-Star Review for both the India and Kenya books.

For children of all ages, Carole P. Roman's books are a wonderful way to travel. Other titles comprising the "If You Were Me and Lived In..." series include: India ISBN: 9781494030861; Kenya ISBN: 9781481979917; Norway ISBN: 9781481979948;
Portugal ISBN: 9781495379932; Russia ISBN: 978149378980; and Turkey ISBN: 9781481979849

In the Hall of the Mountain King
Adapted from Henrik Ibsen
Allison Flannery
Illustrator:Vesper Stamper
Music by Edvard Grieg
Samizdat Publishing Group
9781938633133, $22.00, Hardback, 32 pages

The Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg is frequently one of the first recognizable favorite of many children. Grieg perfectly wrote the music to a tale written by Henrik Ibsen featuring a beautiful woman, a handsome and brave man, and terribly horrible monstrous creatures who captured the woman. As the brave hero approaches the prison within the mountain, the listener can easily imagine the battle especially with the tune "In the Hall of the Mountain King".

Like many fairy tales including the original tales by the Brothers' Grimm, the story was not written for small children or for those who do not enjoy graphically violent episodes. Surprisingly though, Grieg's The Peer Gynt Suite does not only contain the few selections that are well-known, but twenty-six separate musical pieces for the entire Suite.

In Allison Flannery's version In the Hall of the Mountain King. the main character Peer is an adventurous boy who just explores further and further each day until he discovers a castle. Curiosity makes him completely unaware of the possible dangers and consequences.

This particular version of the fairy tale is safe and enjoyable for young children while also recognizing the perils of exploring too far while still perfectly matching the action with the illustrations and the music. The vocabulary is appropriate for children in the 3-9 year old range. The illustrations are colorful, recognizable, and perfectly matching the story. Even the words are moved to coincide with the action.

Also noticeable is the attention to the setting. The illustrations wonderfully envision Norway of many years ago featuring a house with flowers growing on the roof as well as the mountains and waterways so common in this country.

The recording of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite is excellent. However, no credit is given to the orchestra who recorded this arrangement.

When examining the illustrations, there is a character spying on Peer as he plays and climbs trees. Who or what is this creature? What is their place in the story?

The author, Allison Flannery teaches primary students music in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Vesper Stemper is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. She now designs for a variety of clients as well as playing in a band.

In the Hall of the Mountain King is a wonderfully descriptive story that can be enjoyed by children of all ages uniquely including the music as an integral part of the story.

The Traitor's Wife
Allison Pataki
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476738604, $14.99, Paperback, 497 pages

Benedict Arnold is a name that is synonymous with the term traitor for almost giving West Point to the British. The American general definitely had some legitimate gripes with the leadership of the time. What about his wife? Did she have knowledge of the changing of loyalties? Was she the cause of the change?

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki focuses on Peggy Shippen, the much younger second wife of Benedict Arnold through the objective eyes of her fictional lady's maid, Clara.

Clara was orphaned finding herself in need of a home and work when the Shippen family renewed an acquaintance which provided her both. Clara was to assist both of the Shippen daughters but being that the older sister was less demanding and soon to be wed, Peggy demanded the constant assistance of what would quickly become her own lady's maid.

Peggy Shippen is known for her legendary charm and beauty. During the start of this country, she was born to a family of wealth who had difficulty once the restrictions of British over the colonies. She spent much of her time and talents developing friendships with the charming Redcoats, most notably Major John Andre.

In this historical fictional novel, Clara becomes a spy for the Loyalist while Peggy continues her friendships with the British while encouraging her husband to assist their cause with the hopes of a large reward from the Crown.

The strength of The Traitor's Wife is outstanding regarding the setting. Allison Pataki completely understands the time period and daily life through Clara. From the realization of the constant cleaning of dresses that had been dragged on the ground, to the mending, along with the corsets and hair styles that were judged by their height along with the extra duties in the kitchen and to assist wherever there is a need with chores that were never finished, all perfectly capture the time period.

The codes and methods of communication on both sides of the conflict is enthralling. Between the eavesdropping, the coded messages, and difficulty traveling distances and intercepted messages, Allison Pataki wonderfully escorts the reader through Clara.

The Traitor's Wife is the debut novel for Allison Pataki, daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki. Allison is a Yale graduate and resides in Chicago.

The Traitor's Wife brings to life these controversial figures into realistic history based on fact.

A Multitude of Sins: A Conan Flagg Mystery Book Two
M. K. Wren
Original Publication in 1975
Publication by Martha K. Renfroe
Untreed Reads Publishing
B00IOZSWTY, $5.99 (Kindle), 192 pages,

Conan Flagg lives a quiet life a the sole proprietor of Holliday Beach Book Shop and Rental Library in a peaceful seaside village in Oregon. He enjoys reading about adventures rather than actually immersing his life into danger. He values his books and his office which has been sound proofed so that he can truly enjoy his music. Occasionally he does not mind using his previously learned skills which were useful while he was in the military and agrees to be a private investigator for the select cases were he questions the local law enforcement.

A mysterious letter appears at the bookstore requesting a private meeting with Conan at his house. Curious, Conan contacts his housekeeper asking that she leave the back unlocked. As he arrives home, imagine his surprise to hear the harmonic tones of his Steinway grand being played by a gifted pianist.

Isodora Canfield has lived an elite life as the daughter of a recently deceased Senator. Her talent and musical abilities have been well-respected within the community. For some reason, Isodora feels that she is being followed. Being that she has been diagnosed as being mentally ill, she realizes that this could be her imagination, but really believes that it is not. Added to that, as Conan entered his home earlier, he had noticed a parked car watching his house. Why would someone be following her?

A Multitude of Sins is a well-written, fast-paced mystery with a strong understanding of the world of the professional musician and artist. These few gifted people who reach to heights of respect are frequently a mystery to the rest of the normal people. Their lives are centered around their gifts which can also be a burden.

The strength of this novel is the characterization of creating believable people who come to life off the page. M. K. Wren possesses this gift especially with the descriptions of the pianist and the painter with the insightfulness of someone with this background. The imagery is phenomenal in that you can almost hear the pianist and visualize the paintings.

Also adding to the realism is the author's descriptions of the extremely wealthy lifestyle while carefully removing each layer of money which covers the imperfect world of greed within their personal relationships.

A Multitude of Sins is the second novel featuring Conan Flagg following Curiosity Did Not Kill the Cat. This novel can be read as part of the series or as a standalone since the author explains the introductory characters and relationships briefly at the beginning.

What I found interesting though was the setting of the novel taking place in the 1970s through the use of home telephones and phone booths which did not date the book, but added to the authenticity of the life style of the time.

M. K. Wren in the pen-name of Oregon writer Martha K. Renfroe who has written many mysteries and science fiction novels.

A Multitude of Sins is an insightful novel into mental illness, artistry, and the lives of the wealthy taking its readers back into life in the 1970s.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

The Fire Witness
Lars Kepler
Translated from the Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9781250050212, $16.00, Paperback, 528 pp,

The writing team that calls itself Lars Kepler has had two previously successful novels published in the United States: "The Hypnotist" and "The Nightmare." This third in the series featuring Swedish detective Joona Linna, the intuitive, iconic investigator who goes his own way despite official restraints, undertakes a mystery despite being under the thumb of "reviewers from internal affairs and facing possible suspension, when a young girl is murdered in a home for disturbed females.

Linna is allowed to travel to the murder site as "an observer," allowing local police to conduct the inquiry. The crime is attributed to one of the inmates, who is found sleeping in her bed covered with blood and a bloodied hammer, suspected as the murder weapon, under her pillow. However, she runs away and steals a car with a baby sleeping in the back seat, so she now faces a kidnapping charge as well as homicide.

The story progresses from that point, with Linna, his hands tied by official discipline, discovering more and more information, sometimes in unusual ways, including using a so-called psychic. The authors have written a tale that defies the reader to anticipate each development. And the translation is excellent, done by the same person who did the two previous books. The conclusion seems to provide the germ for the next novel in the series, to which we look forward.

Highly recommended.

Light of the World
James Lee Burke
Pocket Books
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476710778, $9.99, Paperback, 656 pp,

Some vacation. Dave Robicheaux, his wife, Molly, daughter, Alafair, and his buddy Clete Purcell and his daughter, Gretchen Horowitz, visit a friend's ranch in Montana for some rest, relaxation and fishing. Instead, they get a lot more than they bargained for: a serial killer who is supposed to be dead seems to appear several times, beginning with an arrow that narrowly misses Alafair's ear.

Many years before, Alafair interviewed Asa Surrette while he was in jail serving a life sentence for multiple murders. And she believes he is still alive, instead of having died in a crash with a gasoline tanker while being transported in a prison van in Kansas, and that he has come to Montana to take revenge on her for writing some inflammatory magazine articles attempting to incite a death penalty for him. His presence surfaces with a series of murders and other evil deeds. Law enforcement officials do not believe Surrette exists since he is officially dead.

So it is up to the Bobsey Twins, Dave and Clete, to address the issue. But more important, it allows the author to investigate and consider wickedness personified. And he does so, in spades. Not only by dissecting Surrette, but looking deeply into a wealthy, but dysfunctional family that seems to be tied in with the murderer, and generally analyzing evil in the world at large, complete with biblical and historical references. The novel is so well written that ordinarily it would garner a rating of 5 stars. But its length and complexity may put off some readers. Nevertheless, it is heartily recommended.

Hunting Shadows
Charles Todd
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062237187, $25.99, Hardcover, 330 pp.,

Two murders in nearby towns in the English Fen area stump the local police, and the call to Scotland Yard is made, bringing Ian Rutledge into the investigation. The first victim is an Army Captain visiting the region to attend a wedding; the second, a local solicitor standing election for a seat in a by-election. Both are shot with a rifle and there appear to be no witnesses or any relationship between the two men.

Not an easy task for Rutledge, in this the 16th novel in the series, who in 1920 still suffers from the aftermath of his experiences in France during the Great War. The potential culprits are numerous, with lots of men in the area with wartime experience who possibly brought home souvenir rifles. Rutledge begins weeding them out, and it's a tedious effort, with pressures from all sides. He draws on his own wartime experience and begins looking for someone who had sniper duties.

The mother/son duo who writes the Rutledge mysteries (as well as the Bess Crawford series with which we're about to be graced with a new addition) construct a simple step-by-step plot, as Rutledge painstakingly looks at all possibilities. As usual, the novel's language and tenor is consistent with the period in which it takes place and the reader is brought along slowly and carefully to an intriguing conclusion.


David Rosenfelt
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250048974, $15.99, Paperback, 368 pp,

Andy Carpenter has had any number of bizarre cases, but none more out of the ordinary than the one in this novel. He represents not one client, but two, for the same murder. He becomes embroiled in a major terrorist plot. And loses witness after witness or potential informant in his defense of his clients, when each is murdered with a single bullet to his head. And, of course, a golden retriever (not Tara) plays a key role in the plot.

It all begins when Andy's accountant and computer guru (and expert hacker), Sam Willis, receives an unexpected telephone call from a high school friend asking him for help and possibly assistance from lawyer Carpenter. He asks him to join him on his airplane to discuss his problem privately, but on his way Sam accidentally hits a dog on a dark road, delaying his arrival. So he never makes the flight and his friend dies in a plane crash. Except it turns out he was poisoned with botulism. Sam begs Andy to represent the man's wife, who is arrested for the murder of her husband, setting the stage for the usual trial highlight which is a feature of a novel in this series.

But then things start to develop. In the middle of the trial, the wife tells the judge she had an affair with Sam and had told her attorney about the affair, and she thinks he may have murdered her husband. Investigation shows traces of botulism appear on Sam's clothing and in his car, and he is arrested for the murder of his friend. Now two people are in jail for the same murder, and Andy, no longer defending the wife, now undertakes to defend Sam in an unusual manner while trying to solve the mystery of why Sam's friend, as well as all the others, had been killed.

I did not find this installment as amusing as others in the series, nor are the courtroom antics for which Andy is famous up to previous levels. "Unleashed" is a straightforward mystery. Not that there is anything wrong with this format. It's just that I've come to expect the traditional approach to an Andy Carpenter novel, and I miss the quips and courtroom antics. Nevertheless, the novel is recommended.

Nasty Piece of Work
Robert Littell
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250021458, $24.99, Hardcover, 259 pp.,

Lemuel Gunn, now a private detective in New Mexico, once was a CIA agent in Afghanistan before being unceremoniously sent home and cashiered out of the service, and, before that, a policeman in New Jersey. While he holds a PI license, he basically whiles his time away in a gigantic trailer built for Douglas Fairbanks Jr. while he was making a movie.

That is, until one day he is approached by Ornella Neppi, a beautiful but tarnished bail bondswoman who put up $150,000 to spring one Emilio Gava after he was arrested on a cocaine charge. Her problem (and she has lots of them) is that Gava has skipped town and she is in danger of losing the funds if he doesn't show up in court. She asks Gunn to find Gava, and he undertakes the task. And what an adventure it becomes.

The author, known for his spy thrillers, has proved he can write a detective novel with the best of them, with excellent characters, unexpected plot turns, and interesting human emotions. The plot keeps moving forward at a steady pace, and even the description of a My Laitype massacre in the present-day Asian action is startling.


Enigma of China
Qiu Xiaolong
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250048578, $15.99, Paperback, 288 pp.,

Chief Inspector Chen faces more than a riddle in this latest chronicle of life in Shanghai. He has to weigh his role as a cop and party official against the truth. As a result of the supposed suicide of the head of the Shanghai Housing Development Committee following his exposure of massive corruption, Chen is asked to act as a consultant in the police investigation. The premise is that the result would be a verdict of suicide, burying the case, and Chen's "endorsement" would seal it, he being known as an incorruptible cop.

The case, however, develops into far more than what the authorities wish, especially when the detective in charge of the case leans toward a murder charge. The corrupt practices came to light from exposure over the internet, giving the author license to look at the conflict between the loosening of Chinese "democracy" and the conflict with the needs of the one-party system to "harmonize" political crimes.

In a way, the novel takes place on three levels. First, it is a straightforward police procedural. Then, as in all of the books in the series, it is a serious look at present-day China. Lastly, there is some degree of romantic interest, introducing a female journalist who not only provides Chen with much assistance in his investigation, but a sexual attraction as well (although, at least to this point, unconsummated). The novel follows the similar pattern of including snippets of Chinese poetry along the way to make points. The one negative comment concerning the novel is the inconclusive ending. But, perhaps, that is to be resolved, along with Chen's love life, in a future volume.


Free Fall
Chris Grabenstein
Pegasus Books
80 Broad St., NY, NY 10005
9781605985640, $14.95, Paperback, 320 pp.,

Super Storm Sandy did a lot of damage to the Jersey Shore, but at least John Ceepack and Danny Boyle survived. After a short stint as Chief of Police, John hired his successor and became Chief of Detectives, a department of one. Danny, because of budget cuts, is reduced to patrol duty, except when John needs another "detective." And in this, the eighth in the series, the two are once again a team.

The gist of the plot is the death of a popular 94yearold retired dentist. The possibility of murder rears its ugly head, and the list of suspects is several, including a potential love interest for Danny in forthcoming novels (John is now married), the dentist's two sons and daughter-in-law, and two health aides. To complicate matters, John's father, Joe Ceepack, turns up in town to operate a boardwalk ride, providing some element of drama.

The plots of the Ceepack mysteries are not overly complicated. The real asset of the novels are the charming characters, especially straitlaced John and his acolyte Danny and the amusing style of writing moving the tales ahead at a brisk pace. Always good fun, and recommended.

The Dying Hours
Mark Billingham
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802122681, $15.00, Paperback, 400 pp.,

As a result of his importune actions in the previous novel in the series, "Good As Dead," Tom Thorne finds himself demoted to uniform duties, while remaining an inspector. You can put him in a patrol car, but you can't take his analytical and detecting abilities away. So, when several senior citizens are discovered to have committed suicide, Tom sniffs a different story: murder.

But when he tries to convince a detective on the Murder Squad about his analysis, he is ignored. So Tom Thorne, being the person he is, goes about it on his own, without the tools or assistance needed, relying on friends to chase down whatever information can help identify the murderer, jeopardizing not only his own position as a policeman, but theirs as well.

Thorne is an enigma: A talented detective, he defies the standard demands and set ways of established police methodology. This novel is the 11th in the series (Mr. Billingham has also written two standalones), all well-written page-turners. "The Dying Hours" is a welcome addition, and happily, Atlantic Monthly Press has just published the newest in the series, "The Bones Beneath."

The Hunter and Other Stories
Dashiell Hammett
The Mysterious Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802121585, $25.00, Hardcover, 256 pp.,

This collection of mostly previously unpublished stories found in various sources shows Dashiell Hammett as a versatile and gifted writer of more than just crime stories. It spans from the early twenties through various phases of his life and is grouped in four subject categories: Crime, of course; Men, Men and Women; and, Screen stories. It includes 17 short stories and three screen stories.

In an appendix, the beginning of a Sam Spade story or novel is included by special arrangement with a private collector, along with unedited fragments Hammett left behind. This material, of course, is probably of interest only to specialists, but the rest should warrant reading by those who remember him as only the author of "The Maltese Falcon" and gain a better perspective of Hammett, and it is recommended.

Death of a Nightingale
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Translated from the Danish by Elisabeth Dyssegaard
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616953041, $26.95, Hardcover, 368 pp.,

There are protagonists of all kinds, professions, sexes and other attributes, but in this series the protagonist is a Red Cross nurse, and an unusual one, since she has a compulsion to save the world and mistreated underdogs. So Nina Borg, in this, the third novel in the series, has a Ukrainian refugee, accused of knifing her abusive fiance (as well as her husband back in the Ukraine), and her young daughter to protect.

The plot includes a back story which takes place in the Ukraine during 19345 involving two sisters, one of whom is a diehard Stalinist communist, but both of them sweet singers "like a nightingale." The present-day events, of course, have their roots on what happened to the sisters during the '30's and right up to the time of the present story.

This novel may be the best of the series, maybe the coauthors are developing an ability to lessen dependence on Nina's personal problems, such as her divorce, and more on solid plotting. The novel is well-written and the translation is smooth.


A Question of Honor
Charles Todd
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062237163, $14.99, Paperback, 336 pp.,

In 1908, Bess Crawford was a young girl living in India with her parents where her father was Colonel of a regiment. One of the officers, Lt. Tom Wade, fled while returning from patrol under suspicion of having murdered three persons while on leave in England as well as of his own parents in Agra, when authorities came to the regiment to question him. Now, nine years later, Bess, serving as a nurse in France, thinks she recognizes Wade as a Corporal serving under another name.

This fifth novel in the Bess Crawford Mystery series then shows how inquisitive Bess can be in following a line of inquiry, even as the war and her nursing duties become overwhelming. The title of the book indicates the basis for Bess' investigation, since the Colonel Sahib placed his faith in Wade, not believing him guilty, and of course the suspicion casts a pall over the "honor" of the regiment.

Typically, the novels in this series reflect the horrors of the First World War, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately, the mother/son writing team had to stretch pretty far to move Bess back and forth between France and England on an almost commuting schedule before the conclusion is reached. And also, to this reader's regret, I found it very slow reading, and it took an inordinately long time to finish. Nonetheless, it was worth the effort, and is recommended.

Ken Bruen
Mysterious Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802126078, $24.00, Hardcover, 288 pp.,

To read a Jack Taylor novel is to relive James Joyce's stream of consciousness in modern inebriated lingo. And that is a good thing because Ken Bruen is a thinking man's (or woman's) writer. In this entry Jack is recovering from events in preceding volumes, in which he lost fingers on one hand and his hearing, partially.

He's given up drinking, smoking and other assorted vices, and is moderately content. That is, until he receives mysterious notes signed "C33," a presumed vigilante murderer of persons condemned for their evil deeds. Apparently, the killer wants Jack to assist efforts to rid Galway of other miscreants. Jack ignores these efforts, but becomes entangled in the web of a peculiar billionaire who is buying up everything in sight. At the same time, he becomes involved with the money man's wife.

The novel, like its predecessors, glows with the charm of an Irish leprechaun, with expressive comments derived from Ireland's history. Mr. Bruen is never an easy read, but always an enjoyable one.


Martin Cruz Smith
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439140215, $25.99, Hardcover, 290 pp.,

As is his custom, Moscow investigator Arkady Renko butts in when a woman plunges to her death from her upstairs apartment. He is told she was a famous crusading journalist (something hard to believe in Russia, now or in the past) and it sets him off on an investigation that takes him to a place on the Baltic Sea very few of us even know exists. A map shows Kaliningrad as part of Russian territory south of Lithuania where there is a naval base.

Renko becomes obsessed with the dead woman and eventually learns of corruption involving the Russian mafia, government officials and others (so what else is new?). It seems that a translator who attended a high level conference in Kaliningrad who had kept a notebook is also murdered, and his notes, written in an undecipherable manner, come into Renko's possession. Unfortunately, he can't understand anything in the notebook which would unveil the plot.

Written in a tight and smooth manner, the novel flows from beginning to end. More than in past Renko novels, the story delves more deeply into present day Russia, its politics, business practices and corruption. It is a welcome addition to the series and is recommended.

The Kill Call
Stephen Booth
Witness Impulse
c/o Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY, 10022
9780062302069, Kindle/Nook ebook, $11.99;
Print Book: $22.95 (HC), $15.99 (PB),

The uneasy relationship between DS Diane Fry and DC Ben Cooper is prevalent throughout this murder mystery, part of the author's continuing series featuring the two protagonists. At first, the body of a well-dressed man found on a moor with his head bashed in seems to be a straightforward police investigation.

However, the inquiry broadens into a lot more, involving illegal horse slaughter, the conflict from supporters of the hunt and saboteurs opposing that "sport," and a look not only into the 16th century Black Plague which nearly wiped out the local population, including many of Cooper's forebears, but also events that took place during the 1960's. And those that lead to the recent past as well as the present.

The depth of the look into the personalities of the two protagonists which of course play a major role in how they go about their investigations is insightful and penetrating, and they are always given intriguing mysteries to solve their insecurities. These are always well-plotted and read well, and the book is recommended.

Evil and the Mask
Fuminori Nakamura
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616952822, $15.95, Paperback, 368 pp.,

In this author's second novel to be excellently translated into English, a story in an extremely different genre takes the reader into the realm of crime noir of an unusual nature. It tells the story of an 11-year-old boy whose father informs him that he is to be trained to become a "cancer" on the world, creating havoc and misery wherever he goes. The family, it seems, has developed a long line of such evil, each generation spawning one such monster.

So the training begins, and a young girl is brought in to become a companion to the boy. They fall in love, part of the father's plan to subject the boy to "hell" at some future date. Instead the boy, three years later, murders his father and consequently ends up just as he might have had the original plan come to fruition. He spends his life thereafter trying to hide from the very fact that he has committed the ultimate crime and, at the same time, trying to protect the girl from evil.

The prose is as simple and straightforward as the tale is twisted. It is a far different effort from this author's previous novel, "The Thief," which also described an antihero, albeit of a different stripe. This book is a complicated crime novel with deep psychological undertones into the minds of warped persons. It is told in the first person by the protagonist as he endures the horrors to which he is subjected, yet demonstrating his efforts to overcome the onus of what he has done and his background.


Storm Front
John Sandford
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY,NY 10014
9780399159305, $27.95, Hardcover, 376 pages,

Virgil Flowers, the successful agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is given an unusual assignment: To meet an Israeli cop, a woman who has been sent to help recover an artifact stolen from her country by an American minister who "discovered" it while on an archeological dig there. It is a stone suggesting that King Solomon and an Egyptian pharaoh were one and the same. If true, the ramifications would be momentous.

The only trouble is that the stone is in the hands of the minister, who is auctioning it off to the highest bidder, seeking $3 million. The plot moves forward with all kinds of complications, as Virgil attempts to recover the stone and capture the culprits, including various bidders such as two deadly Turks, representatives of Hezbollah, and others. It's a merry chase right up to the end.

Clever does not do the plotting justice. Mr. Sanford has outdone himself on taking both Virgil and the reader on a wild ride toward an ending so unexpected as to leave one gasping.

Highly recommended.

Silent Night: A Spenser Holiday Novel
Robert B. Parker with Helen Brann
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399157882, $24.95, Hardcover, 229 pp.,

Right out of the batter's box, let us get this straight: This novel is OK if it weren't labeled Robert B. Parker. It isn't even a resemblance of the master. Or even of Ace Atkins. If it were just another book by another author it would be an acceptable read. Presumably, the outline for the plot is Parker's, but little else should or can be associated with him

The plot is fairly simple, and it isn't a "Christmas" story, although it takes place over a couple of weeks leading up to that holiday. It is, of course, peopled with Spenser, Susan Silverman, Hawk and even Vinnie. But none of them sound or act as they have in the past. In fact, there really is no reason to summarize the plot here.

Helen Brann was Parker's longtime literary agent, and, as such, was granted the privilege to "finish" the work he started, but left in the wake of his death. She approached it in a workmanlike manner, but IMHO did not rise to the occasion. One wonders what the book could have been, had Parker finished it, or if it was completed in other hands.

Theodore Feit

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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