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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 9 September 2016 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Bonnye's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Chutsky's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Marlan's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Moore's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf
Polk's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf Zulfiqar's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Superhero Healthy Henry Discovers Planet Earth
Angela B. Lamb
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530126477, $12.99, PB, 24pp,

Andrea Kay

Written and illustrated by Angela B. Lamb, "Superhero Healthy Henry Discovers Planet Earth" is the story of Superhero Healthy Henry, an extraterrestrial visitor that shows his unhealthy Earth friend Dan why it is important to eat nutritious food and exercise. As a result, Dan becomes much healthier and helps others do the same. A fun and informative read, "Superhero Healthy Henry Discovers Planet Earth" promotes the importance of eating "real food" that comes from nature and avoiding excessive amounts of junk food, fast food and processed food.. Healthy habits begin early. "Superhero Healthy Henry Discovers Planet Earth" encourages children to be on the right path to life long health. Enhanced with the inclusion of fun, kid friendly jokes, "Superhero Healthy Henry Discovers Planet Earth" is enthusiastically recommended for family, children's health center, elementary school and community library collections. It should be noted that "Superhero Healthy Henry Discovers Planet Earth" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.65).

The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain
John Kounios and Mark Beeman
Windmill Books
c/o Random House Publishing Gruop
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10106, USA.
9781400068548, $28.00 HC, $13.99 Kindle, 288pp,

John Bradford, M.A., Reviewer

Wouldn't we all like to have more 'Aha!' moments, those times when a sudden insight occurs to us? Maybe a fresh angle on a long-studied problem, or a spontaneous idea that shows us a totally new way to move our thinking forward. Many books on creative thinking focus on what to do after that moment of inspiration has happened - how to develop the idea, how to present it, how to market it, and so on. 'The Eureka Factor', on the other hand, targets the much-needed topic of how to have original ideas in the first place.

John Kounios and Mark Beeman, professors at Drexel and North-Western Universities, are experienced researchers into brain sciences and creative cognition. Both have published a multitude of academic papers but this is their first book. As they say: "Nearly everyone has had sudden aha moments of clarity. They can and do change our lives." In this landmark publication, their pioneering investigations using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) into creative insight have led them to clarify how it is that our brain comes up with these sudden, often surprising, insights. They have also established how we can develop our creative thinking skills so that most of us can generate significantly more 'Eureka!' moments and "use them as stepping stones for [our] personal development".

('Eureka!' - I have found it! - is what the ancient Greek scientist and inventor Archimedes exclaimed when he reportedly leapt out of his bath and ran naked down the road after his sudden realization that a solid which is denser than water will be lighter when immersed in fluid, by the weight of the water the solid displaced. Archimedes used his method to test whether King Hieron's crown was made of solid gold or not.)

Leonardo da Vinci had a moment of intuition like this when he first conceived of the idea that human beings might be able to fly in a helicopter-like structure. Similarly, Tim Berners Lee experienced a flash of inspiration when he first realized that people anywhere on the planet could be connected by the world wide web.

Kounios and Beeman pinpoint how we can train our minds to capture fresh ideas from 'outside the box'. Creative thinking in all fields of life is not just a skill that a lucky few artists and musicians have inherited through their genes. It is a skill that almost all of us can acquire so that flashes of insight and novel ways of looking at things become common features of our lives. With the accelerating needs of the fast-moving world around us, and when, according to research by Professor Kyung-Hee Kim in Virginia, human creativity in the States is dropping, this is a skill that we all need.

The authors' research using neuroimaging has shown that when we seek a totally fresh idea we face barriers to our thinking. We become stuck. But, as we learn to take a break and relax for a while - have a coffee, play a game of tennis or simply look away - the unconscious part of our brain continues to work away at the problem in the background. This is when a 'Eureka!' moment can occur, seemingly out of the blue: we wake up in bed with that brilliant solution to the problem that would never normally have occurred to us. As we learn to allow ourselves regular periods when the conscious part of our brain, especially our visual circuits, can switch off after focusing on a problem, ideas can incubate in our neurological circuits, ranging through connections we had never consciously considered. We create the ideal context in which fresh insights can arise.

Although the prospect of financial gains is compelling, it has been found not necessarily to lead to breakthrough ideas. Motivation as 'a general drive for self-enhancement', on the other hand, is shown to influence creative insights, especially feeling safe - like a wary squirrel who at last trusts you enough to take a peanut from your outstretched hand. This confidence allows us a sense of adventure and makes us feel free to explore untested possibilities, leading us to make creative leaps.

Further evidence quoted - by Adam Galinsky - indicates that multicultural experience enhances creativity. The amount of time living (not travelling) abroad appeared to raise the creativity levels of Galinsky's subjects. For those who had lived abroad, even recalling memories of having adapted to a foreign culture provided an additional creativity boost. This may be why so many immigrants are such a rich source of creative talent (e.g. Madeleine Albright, Albert Einstein, Martina Navratilova, Audrey Hepburn, Vladimir Nabokov, Marie Curie, Sigmund Freud)

These, and other, helpful approaches to boosting our creative thinking skills are described in detail by Kounios and Beeman with a multitude of examples. In the context of the challenges and opportunities humanity faces today this compelling and (mostly) readable book is highly recommended for everyone seeking to stimulate some fresh thinking from our neurological circuits.

Wayon: One Awesome Thing
Sara PennyPacker
Disney Hyperion
125 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023
9781484701522, $15.99 HC, $5.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 208pp,

Mary T Kincaid, Reviewer

Waylon: One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker is for children nine to twelve. Waylon is an inventor. He wants to invent something that will put his family back together. He is struggling with belonging when the most popular boy in school decides he might be gang material. He is distressed by the division of his class into two groups and by gender. He is not sure he wants to belong to a group. His sister has entered a grunge phase and he doesn't have anyone to confide in at home.

Worrying about how he appeared to others is a new idea for Waylon. He'd never given this any thought before because he'd always fit in, everyone had always been friends, and suddenly he is afraid of being a loser sitting alone at the back of the bus.

Here is an example of the wonderful writing:

"Baxter had only been in the third grade for a few days last September, but a couple of days were enough. When he'd left, the rumor that he'd been sent away to prison. Everyone had agreed that it would be a good place for him."

Waylon eventually teams up with Baxter to solve his problems. They devise a solution to rescue a dog from the police department and manage to bring the fourth grade together.

I give this a five out of five. The characters are wonderful, detailed, full of well-described emotions. I found the situations funny, and the settings well drawn. The dialogue was realistic, and well done. I give this story about a fourth grade inventor a five out of five.

The Crimson Calling
Patrick C. Greene
Hobbes End Publishing
9780997430202, $12.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 372 pages,

Mayra Calvani

Genre: Horror

The Crimson Calling by Patrick C. Greene is a suspenseful, fast-paced tale featuring a strong, bad ass heroine, and lots of non-stop action. It puts a new spin on vampire lore by combining the old myths with the modern military.

In a world where just a few hundred vampires secretly remain after the eradication of 1666, Olivia - Liv - Irons is a young woman with unusual military talents who is emotionally tortured by the loss of her child and the man she loved. One day, she is a approached by an ancient alluring vampire with a proposition she can't refuse.

Now, it rests in her hands to save the good vampires - as well as humankind - from a sect of the evil undead who want nothing more than to rule the world on their own terms. Including turning humans into foodbags. But at the heart of this mission, there lies a secret...

Olivia is a lovable character, strong and independent, yet kind and vulnerable, the perfect combination with her bad ass attitude. There is also an array of interesting secondary characters as well as a villainess readers will love to hate. Intense and entertaining fight scenes between the immortals will satisfy fans of the military/vampire fiction sub-genre. Adding to this mix are the alluring forests and rolling hills of Eastern Europe, as well as erotic descriptions of vampire transformation.

Greene has a gritty writing style that doesn't shy away from the nastier side of things - and language. His combat descriptions are awesome. At the same time, he does a skillful job in getting into the mind of his young and vulnerable protagonist, showing us her doubts and fears with a caring touch. The ending seems to be open to a sequel so I'm definitely looking forward to read more. Entertaining and recommended!

His Love Lesson
Nicki Night
Harlequin Kimani
P.O. Box 5190, Buffalo, NY 14240-5190
9780373864522, $6.50, PB, $4.49 Kindle, 224pp,

Rhea Alexis M. Banks

Will happenstance and familiarity ruin their possibility....

His Love Lesson by Nicki Night is an engaging tale of a woman that makes smell goods and lotions, Chey Rodgers knows exactly what she wants to do and sets out to do just that. First she moved away to the "city" and ending a relationship with a finance that was stifling and judgement. Then she sought out to finish her higher education and obtain work in the industry to gain experience and knowledge but first, she goes on a much desired, snowy vacation. While "vacationing" happenstance and her kindness throws a man in her path that she can't stop thinking of, after they spend time together.

Hunter Barrington, is a corporate attorney has a chance to do something that he always wanted to teach. Based on the outcome of this semester, he could get an appointment. This is jeopardized when a woman that he spent time with when he was snowed on a trip to Utah wounds up in his class. On top of this, he has a colleague that has plans to make them an "us" and uses manipulation and underhandedness to try to achieve such....will she? Read His Love Lesson and see if Hunter and Chey makes it through, well worth the read.

I give this novel 5 stars

Violin Smoke
Alan Britt, Translated by Paul Sohar
Irodalmi Jelen (Hungarian Publisher)
c/o Vida Publishing
233 Northway Rd., Reisterstown, MD 21136
9789737658456, $14.00

Steve Barfield

Alan Britt is one of the most published poets in America. Looking back into his history, this was true even years ago even when he was a university sophomore. It is not a surprise that this poet would appear in other languages. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, French, German and now Hungarian. Britt's latest book "Violin Smoke" is translated by the renowned Hungarian translator Paul Sohar. Britt's poetry is fresh, subtle and intelligent. Britt develops his own language which is immanently available. Britt offers a dense concrete image that confers meaning on several levels at once.

From the short poem "Destiny," Britt investigates poetry itself:

Each poem has its own feral destiny. / so, why interfere? / Intellectual leaps are obtained / through blind faith anyway / or, we could continue slinging / fresh feces from behind the bars / of our miserable cages.

He offers a clear and concise vision and with the use of "our." The reader is included an intelligent moment of surprising intensity and into the universe of the image. His pacing offers rhythms that seem conversational. This easily invites the reader to the experience. His visions are stark in their simplicity.

From a poem entitled "Alone with the Terrible Universe" Britt writes:

A dog, / a small brown and white / dog barks / across a dark sea / of crickets / all hunched together / like millions of glistening coquina shells / on a black shore.

You can feel the cool breeze of the evening blowing through his vision. His images draw on many value referents found in nature. The poet stands in awe of what is possible in nature. This poet is not in the business of explaining away natural mysteries though his art depends on them. His pen finds the hard edges of truth creating an experience that flows intuitively through the poem with an organic logic that is immediately assessable.

The author turns to an old friend Yves Bonnefoy paying him tribute. Check this out:

Yves shows us blood illuminated by lightning / and verbs that resemble swallows / swarming around an abandoned church.

Britt is able to perfectly mimic Bonnefoy's poetry style as part of the tribute to the famous French poet. Too, Bonnefoy is one of Britt's former translators. Britt's images are brief and highly accurate avoiding long involved verse that struggles for relevance. Britt creates a minimal language and with this economy creates a totally unique experience.

In the poem entitled "Irony":

However, if we're lucky, / a few authentic moments / trickle from the gaping wounds / of a suffering Bartok violin.

For this poet the moment is the prize. It is an encapsulated segment of time and space which he shares from an existential isolation. Accuracy is what communicates and Britt is always highly accurate. It can be no surprise that such an accomplished poet would achieve such an International presence. Upon reading Alan Britt you will see why he is so well subscribed by so many publishers.

The Last Great American Magic
L.C. Fiore
Can of Corn Media
9780692717073, $17.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 372pp,

Donna Meredith

The Last Great American Magic, by L.C. Fiore, is a sprawling epic spanning the life of the great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh from childhood in Ohio Country to his death in Upper Canada, roughly 1774-1813. The warrior's battles take him all over the East, from Tennessee to southern bayous, joining forces with various tribes and even fighting alongside the British in his efforts to drive the Americans from his homeland.

A resident of Durham, North Carolina, Fiore won wide acclaim for his debut novel Green Gospel. It was named First Runner-Up in the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards and was short-listed for the 2011 Balcones Fiction Prize. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals, including Ploughshares. He serves as Communications director for the North Carolina Writers' Network.

With thundering force, all the touchstones of a good story roll together in The Last Great American Magic. Three brothers with wildly different personalities create conflict. Forbidden romance and vicious battles add the spice of clashing cultures. And magic percolates at every bend of the forest and river, evidenced by shamans and powerful tokens.

The oldest of triplets by a few minutes, Tecumseh becomes known as the Great Panther Moving across the Sky. Rattle, the second baby to appear, is obese and weak. Unable to excel physically, he studies the magic of the medicine man. The third boy, Open Door, is developmentally challenged, providing Rattle with someone even less fit than he to mock.

When the boys turn six, their father, a great war chief, takes them to the river to find their tokens:

"The river revealed everyone for who they were. Tecumseh knew this - it was the power of the Great Horned Snake. Some considered it evil, but it had also given the blackest, most potent medicines to the shamans. The river reminded the boy that there was evil in the world, and there always would be. He could either learn to live with it and try to control it, or placate it with offerings."

Tecumseh pulls a lump of quartz from the river bottom as his token, one that shimmers with changing colors, capable of protecting him, of warning him when magic or danger is nearby. He is the only one of the triplets to receive a token, further cementing his position as a leader. When he goes on a quest to find a spirit guide, his token alerts him to Crazy Jack, a trickster and trader, whose presence is sometimes of this world, sometimes not. Mysteriously, when Tecumseh returns from his quest, he can speak and understand English. This powerful gift from his spirit guide enables interaction with the white man. The trickster guide warns Tecumseh that "[o]ne day the white man will push the Shawnee so far west that all around will be nothing but sand and dryness and open sky. And then you will have to rely on what the white man gives you to survive."

The ability to speak English is both a blessing and a curse. It turns Tecumseh into a tool to be used by Indians and Whites alike. It also builds a bridge between him and the beautiful white captive Rebecca Galloway. Their tangled relationship leaves Tecumseh feeling "trapped between his desire and his need to let her go."

Though the strongest of the boys, Tecumseh is not without faults. In his desire to excel, he causes great injury to his brother Rattle and must "wear the shame and guilt of being its cause." Fiore's careful attention to credible character development elevates this story beyond its historical value.

The writing shines with lovely passages like this one: "The quality of daylight in the afternoon: the hills ran with it. Something buttery in the air that Tecumseh could sift through his teeth." How could you read that passage and not share in the joy Tecumseh finds in the outdoor life?

With such differing views of land and ownership, the conflict between cultures is inevitable. To this writer's credit, he avoids romanticizing the Indians even while recognizing their harmony with nature. He paints in unsparing detail the brutal nature of torture and the barbaric acts of war.

Sprinklings of philosophy about home, language, and immortality lend this story a timeless quality. For Tecumseh, immortality means being remembered after death. He wanted to "walk like a god. To be remembered, to persist." In this regard, he achieved his dream. Writers are still telling his story, still singing his song, hoping to be remembered themselves.

Lives of the Spirits
John A. Pappas
9780692745601, $15.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 272pp,

Richard Traylor

Actors like Robert Duval believe that art should never corrupt or misrepresent the truth.

Well, Mr. Pappas obviously subscribes to that philosophy in this intensely researched adventure. Though a sequel, this first person account of life among the early 19th century Indians of the Pacific North West stands on its own. Rendered in a concise and straightforward manor the romantic adventure story is deceptively simple in its structure while dense and intimate in detail . It touches on things as mundane as the various culinary traditions while also addressing the distinctive social, political and spiritual practices of a people.

The story draws analogies and contrasts with the burgeoning modernity about to engulf and all but extinguish their way of life.

It is in the meditation of its difference with the 'greater' world outside where the story takes on its real depth. I cannot say what was in the author's mind, but it does sell its point rather neatly that the magnitude of commerce has fundamentally changed the character of the relationships in the contrasted civilizations. Nowhere is this change more evident than in the existences of slaves. The Indians, to be sure, had slaves. But the life of a slave among the Indians was not nearly so different from their captors as they were in the East where the difference in a slave's life from his owner's was of a cruel magnitude that can scarcely be believed.

I thought it particularly elegant the congruency the author sees in the spiritualism of the old Irish with the Indians. Our protagonist is an Irishman who's mother imparted in her son an appreciation of the old animistic ways that resonate with the Indians spirituality. This opens this alien world up to him in a profound way. But this is a world at twilight and the zombie apocalypse of smallpox about to hit is rendered in equally grim detail.

Plenty of action, plenty of humor, plenty of detail - this is a little' book of plenty. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and respected the author's research.

Laura S. Wharton
Broad Creek Press
9780990466260, $20.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 322pp,

Nancy Clemons

5.0 out of 5 stars: Good read!

Really enjoyed catching up with Sam & Molly again! Familiar with Edenton and this duo from "Deceived" (the first in the series), it was an easy visualization - Laura Wharton carried the reader throughout the tale set in this coastal NC town. Wasn't expecting the ending........hard to put it down once I started. Ready for the next Sam & Molly adventure NOW.

River of Earth
James Still
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813113722, $19.95, PB, 256pp,

Rod Haynes, Reviewer

I am more and more drawn to learning about the people, culture, and history of Appalachia. My paternal heritage is connected to the western North Carolina Great Smoky Mountain foothills near Asheville. I recently learned about a classic fiction entitled River of Earth, by James Still. Written in 1940 - the same year John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath was published - (both books had the same publisher) River of Earth is one of those fantastic finds, a deep, rich journey into the mindset, culture, and poverty-stricken lifestyle of the people of Appalachia in the 1930s and 1940s. It may be I am one of the few who did not know about River of Earth's existence. I just want to do my part to encourage lovers of literature to read this wonderful book.

River of Earth is appropriately classified as a work of fiction. But like a lot of fiction its author leaves little doubt that his subject matter originates in recollections of actual people and events. River of Earth is told from the perspective of an eight year old boy relating the trials of a coal mining family during the Great Depression. The book is as real as any non-fiction account of the Great Depression, and especially the region of Appalachia, might be. It is that worthy of our attention and praise. At the same time our human senses are struck hard by its message.

The book's title echoes a fundamentalist preacher's labeling the ancient Appalachian mountain chain a 'River of Earth' during one of his Sunday morning sermons. Dean Cadle writes in the Forward section of River of Earth that River and Steinbeck's timeless epic about the Joad family's journey to California in the depths of the Great Depression, "are the only books chronicling Depression years that have continued to gain readers in more affluent ones. The major difference between them is that Steinbeck's story deals with a calamity that has struck America only once in its lifetime, while [author] Still is writing of the struggles that have plagued the mountain people since the country was settled." The final chapter of the chronic poverty throughout Appalachia is still far from its conclusion today.

River of Earth's content is wonderfully rich encased in deceptive simplicity. Witness the book's first few sentences: "The mines on Little Carr closed in March. Winter had been mild, the snows scant and frost-thin upon the ground. Robins stayed the season through, and the sapsuckers came early to drill the black birch beside our house. Though Father had worked in the mines, we did not live in the camps. He owned the scrap of land our house stood upon, a garden patch, and the black birch was the only tree on all the barren slope above Blackjack." Simple, clear writing makes River of Earth's story all the more compelling when framed by its tragic plot. And very real.

The trials of the writer's daily existence encompasses loss of work, loss of hope, starvation, and utter destitution. The binding force of the storyline is the hearty resolve - maybe it is resignation - lying deep within this family's marrow, a rock-solid resiliency that guides them through living in a smoke house while teetering on the brink of destruction and living on milky water and corn pone, the actual starvation of a horse the family relies to plow fields in the spring to grow crops for the coming winter, and an ongoing argument between Mother and Father about whether or not to "turn out" Father's adult brothers who do not work but simply are more mouths to feed in the house. The baby's unhappy fate only underlines how desperate the times were.

The brutally raw account of Father rescuing a calf choking to death on a rough corn cob, the cruel loss of a newborn colt, a biblically-reminiscent story about the onslaught of clouds of pigeons consuming entire crops intended for the coming winter's sustenance, tells us that nature herself is plotting against the family's survival. The weight of family dysfunction, no prospect of a paying job, and little and sometimes no food to see the family through some days is enough to break the reader's heart. Where does the family find the strength to persevere? We would do well to recall this can rightly be considered the story of a region, not just a family story. And with the Great Depression, in varying degrees it was the story of an entire nation.

River of Earth is fiction. But it is far too honest, too human, too real and believable, to be considered a manufactured saga of a historically stricken region deep within our American landscape. Is the book great literature? Compared to what? Clearly Steinbeck remains one of the more celebrated writers in American literary history. And author James Still never came close to attaining that level of recognition. That aside, River of Earth is an extremely important slice of Appalachia, a culture that has far too often been ignored or left behind by the full-speed-ahead achievements of this country over the past 100 years. Which is precisely why River of Earth needs to be rediscovered. Relevant as ever, it remains worthy of our attention and praise and reflection. It is genuine Americana told in a brilliant, clear, lyrical style. I want to make sure people know about it.

Winner's Wisdom
John Schmidt
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781533097415, $8.99, PB, 144pp,

Carla Trueheart, Review
Readers' Favorite

"Winner's Wisdom: Eight-Week Devotional Using Poetry and Journaling to Express the Real You" is a beautiful journal-like book that uses poetry, Bible quotes, and interactive activities to inspire the reader. In this book, the reader will find an introduction written by the author that will help them understand the book's purpose, the specific uses of the left and right brain, and instructions for using the journal in a creative, imaginative way. The introduction also explains the concepts of poetry, and there are also poetry definitions in the back of the book (the different forms, such as Haiku, Prose, Sonnet, etc.). Throughout the book, the reader is prompted to interact by thinking on questions posed by the author. Here, the reader can write down their thoughts, jot down things they feel blessed to have in their life, or even consider specific prayers.

There were many favorite activities in "Winner's Wisdom." I enjoyed envisioning the "ball of light" of love and peace. The book is a fantastic combination of unique poems, inspiring and appropriate Bible quotes, and writing and thinking prompts for the reader. The book is also a positive source for daily meditation, mentioning angels, God, and even the importance of laughter. It is a guiding light without being too pushy, and contains just the right amount of daily inspiration and activities. I recommend this book to anyone looking for daily inspirational quotes or interactive journals that act as a positive source in today's changing world.

Zero K: A Novel
Don Deilillo
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9781501135392, $27.00, HC, 288 pages,

Sam Fuhrer

I first read DeLillo the summer I graduated college in 2013, picking up White Noise in a Barnes & Noble somewhere in the midwest on a drive back to New York from Milwaukee. Since then I have read all 17 of his novels and consider him the greatest influence on my songwriting career. What intrigues me about DeLillo is how he internalizes the patterns of society, politics, pop culture, and ancient philosophy, articulating exactly what is different about being alive now, and using that to interrogate modern American culture. He breaks down power structures that thrive on complexity and secrecy, like the CIA, the internet, academia, terrorism, nuclear missile codes, all which have only existed since World War II, but have shaped so deeply what it means to be human today.

His most recent novel, Zero K, takes place at a secretive laboratory in a post-soviet Eurasian desert where the 1% are plotting to live forever. They will by freezing their bodies at the temperature Zero K, which is a method called cryonic preservation. Zero K reads as a meditation wary of the collapse of the current order, yet is less about the end of capitalism and more about what comes next. Looking at society as a whole, divided by race, class, ethnicity, and language, the story unfolds between a billionaire with a career in global finance, Ross, and his son, Jeffrey. Jeffrey is a confused 34 year old who struggles with introspection, and the career ambiguity of living in the shadow of his fathers earthy accomplishments. He wonders if it "Has been money, my father's money, that determines the way I think and live?" I think the overall question of the book is whether evolution has become too capital intensive.

The book ruminates on the implications of a growing wealth gap and challenges that poses for immortality and death itself. Not that death hasn't been the centerpiece of DeLillilo's novels for the past 40 years, but now he seems to be researching practical ways to avoid it. DeLillo turns 80 in November, a Scorpio, and last February (2016) in an interview with Shakespeare & Co. he said that given the option, cryonic preservation would be his preferred means for passing.

He never indicated whether he would be able to afford to do that, but throughout the novel he examines the relationship between wealth and longevity. A character asks "Why should we keep living while others die? Half the world is redoing its kitchens, the other half is starving." (70) Can working capital shelter us from the tragedies of existence, weather shocks, holy wars, climate change, pollution, and over-population? Will the poor die out and only those rich enough to afford cryonic preservation outlive the final days of life as we know it? ! The lust for immortality is an actual trend happening right now, and having recently attended an academic futurist conference, saw first hand the excitement people like Ray Kurzweil illicit in investors who attend these meetings. The book is grounded in todays political crisis's, featuring millions of displaced refugees, political instability, racial tension, police brutality, wars, Putin, The South China Sea and smartphone headlines constantly indicating humanity is heading towards destruction.

DeLillo has never shied away from the impeding doom of civilization, and similar to Underworld, he is well researched in the modern technology that allows humanity to self-destruct while also transcend our biological limitations. As Murray says in White Noice, "This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other."

With Zero K, DeLillo plays more the role of the philosopher than the story teller, sentence creator than plot seducer, and healer than entertainer. He is entering the final stage of his life, as our society seems to be in the fifth act of the post-war period, emerging to a new order that is yet to be negotiated. There is still plenty of room for mystery, acquisition and discovery. Who will live and who will die, who will inherit what's left? The opening lines of the book are "Everybody wants to own the end of the world."

Fear Runner
Dale Brandon
Bright Eagle Press
9780692511626, $14.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 367pp,

Kirkus Media

A thriller, set in the world of high-stakes finance, involves a ruthless trader who targets a government employee.

In Brandon's (Death Mountain, 2015, etc.) first non-Western novel, Scott Quinn is a commodity trader haunted by his father's failures in the market. Quinn crosses paths with Lauren Chandler, an attractive Department of Agriculture employee, and asks her out for a drink. She tells him to meet her after work at a restaurant named Henry's. Soon, Chandler finds herself involved in a treacherous plot when she overhears Deputy Secretary Hayden Benson passing inside information about soybeans to Victor Merrick. Merrick turns out to be a cunning trader willing to blackmail and murder his way to a fortune. Benson discovers that Chandler overheard his call, and she immediately flees the office. He tells Merrick, and from that moment on, Chandler is in danger, just a few chapters in.

She drives to her apartment complex and spots two sinister-looking strangers who turn out to be hit men. Terrified, she manages to meet Quinn at Henry's and tells him: "I overheard something at work that I wasn't supposed to hear, and now, they're trying to kill me." The two armed assassins appear at the restaurant and Quinn tells Chandler to run. Most of the book is devoted to
the chase, and Brandon does a good job pacing the action and heightening the suspense for the most part.

The author, a former commodity broker who now owns a company that specializes in virus and malware removal, puts both of those bodies of knowledge to work in thinking of a clever way to defeat the different levels of security the Department of Agriculture might employ to protect commodity reports. But there are times, especially in a sequence in which Chandler joins Quinn on the trading floor, when the tale devolves into a tutorial on how the system operates. That's understandable, because there is a lot the reader needs to know about the market to understand the intricacies of Merrick's scam. But the rest of the book is snappy enough that the explanations can drag in parts. Quinn, Merrick, and even a hit man named Cade are well-drawn characters, but Chandler too often seems a caricature of the helpless damsel in distress.

The author keeps the action flowing and delivers enough clever twists to make this an enjoyable read for thriller fans, especially those who want to learn about the world of trading.

Money Printing Strategy: Determine the Market Trends with Unprecedented Accuracy
Aman Kabir
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781500790752, $24.95 PB, (Discount $12.95), $9.95 Kindle,

Outskirts Press

A new book by Aman Kabir "Money Printing Strategy: Determine the Market Trends with Unprecedented Accuracy" is specifically designed to help traders and investors produce astonishing gains when it comes to trading and investing.

The main goal of the book is to help people - whether novice or experienced trader - - accurately predict the market trends, timing, and trend reversals, and to manage the trading orders by using a specifically designed and sophisticated strategy to achieve huge gains. A comprehensive trading checklist makes it easy to ensure that all the homework has been done prior to placing orders.

"This book comes to life after years of frustration trying to find a clear and concise investing strategy for the successful trading of financial instruments," says Kabir. "After reading many books, attending seminars, testing brokers, and using charting tools, I found that while general and academic information was available in so many trading books, no one was describing one single, specific, comprehensive, self-standing, practical and winning trading strategy."

Imagine a strategy that could produce a gain of nineteen times (1,900%) the initial capital in some six weeks' time, or over thirty times (3,000%) in two months' time! This is what Aman Kabir achieved by applying the Money Printing Strategy while using a demo-account. Computer screenshots and account statements show Kabir's successful use of his methodology and allow the reader to independently verify his remarkable results.

MPS is designed to help predict the market trends with unprecedented accuracy and highest probability of success. The Trend Prediction Strategy combined with the sophisticated Order Management Strategy can help the readers preserve their wealth during the hard times ahead, or even produce astonishing gains by trading the financial instruments. Utilization of Reward-Risk Ratio and Loss-Parking Strategy enables traders and investors achieve the highest amounts of gains while drastically reduce the number of losing trades. Simply said, the MPS is an excellent recipe for sustainable success in trading and investing.

Chapter 12 describes in detail the tools and processes that lead to the prediction of the Dow Jones trends until the end of 2019. Figure 12.3 presents the outcome in terms of chart patterns, dates, durations, and prices on a single chart.

One main goal of Money Printing Strategy is to prove that the financial market future trends are predictable.

As one Amazon reviewer states, "Money Printing Strategy promotes realistic strategies without any hidden agenda. Aman proceeds to give detailed, practical examples of HOW to actually invest. NOT JUST THEORY... The truth is in these pages and the performance of this strategy has been measured with bank statements as proof."

For more information, visit the author's website at

50 Things Your Kids Don't Want To Tall You
Shelly Campbell-Harley, M.A.Ed
Format: 6x9 paperback cream, 73 pages
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478773627, $9.95, PB, 74pp,

Ginae McDonald

Genre: Family & Relationships/General

50 Things Your Kids DON'T Want To Tell You is comprised of five chapters:

1. Family Relationships
2. Personal Choices
3. School: The Stage
4. Legal: Crossing Lines
5. Sex: No Plan

After each chapter, author Shelly Campbell-Harley has a 'Reflection Page'. This is where you may list your thoughts about what you've read. Here, you may use free thought, mind mapping, or whatever method you deem necessary to lead to possible truths.

There isn't any commentary on the 50 Things and it's supposed to be that way. The book was meant to help you to think critically (deeply, not negatively) about whether or not your offspring is struggling with some of the mentioned issues. If 50 Things brings you and young to a point where a nonjudgmental conversation can be broached, then, the book will have well-earned your bucks.

Perhaps, a resource section would have been good though.

Shelly Campbell-Harley is the author of over a dozen educational articles and has written several children's books, as well as a book on leadership. She has a Master's in education and has been teaching for over 20 years. When Shelly is not writing, teaching, or spending time with family and friends, she enjoys reading, crafting, and spending time outdoors.

Wishes To Die For
Kevin J. Haselhorst, MD
Tranquility Publications
Scottsdale, Arizona
9780991571444, $12.95, PB, 234pp,

Anonymous Judge, Reviewer
23rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning "needs improvement" and 5 meaning "outstanding."

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge's Commentary:

This somber treatise on dying with dignity through well thought out advance directives is filled with sound advice on when and how to pull the plug. The challenging material is based on the writer's years of experience as a doctor in Emergency Rooms. Many examples of unsure patients give the book a sobering effect. The book is divided into sections starting with an appeal for advance directives and what they can and should accomplish. Issues about getting counsel and guidance, having an end-of-life plan, and creating a health care proxy are discussed. Major issues in formation of the directive take in empathy, emotions, determination, critical thinking, and euthanasia. Actual enactment of directives covers pro-life disposition and anger management, handling of the survival instinct, and final resolutions. What sort of deliverance can be expected is broken down in elements of self-validation and death as a possible blessing. A religious motif appears sometimes in the text. Overall, the book can help readers sort out their personal values on this intimate and inevitable subject. The first-person writing is unsparing in its argument that lack of directives, and poor ones, only lead to more confusion over the health system's rules and regulations and more suffering of patients. The cover's design is colorful.

The Torch is Passed
Bill Powers
9781682226780, $14.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 298 pages,

Hampton Rhodes, Reviewer

Treat yourself to some great summer reading with these two books available in both print and e-books by Bill Powers † - "The Pharm House" and "The Torch Is Passed." These page-turners will keep you firmly planted on your beach towel at the shore, or your sleeping sofa on the back porch of your mountain cabin for hours - but it will only seem like a minute!

Almost three years ago, Powers burst onto the fictional writing scene with his first and highly acclaimed novel, "The Pharm House," which was a finalist in the Medical Thriller category of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards. "The Pharm House" introduced readers to the Dr. Nicholas Harding family and a mystery involving malpractice, greed, murder and corruption. A re-edited version was re-issued in September of 2015.

This past year, in 2015, a sequel to the Harding family saga continues in "The Torch Is Passed," with the challenges of Nicholas's daughter Andrea who has inherited the family business through the murder of her family. Having just graduated college, Andrea not only has to run the family business, she must also solve the mystery of who would want to kill both her father and her uncle - and why.

In "The Torch is Passed," emboldened by intriguing new friends and allies, Andrea sets off on an onerous undertaking to find answers - the true answers - of who and why her family has been so viciously attacked as she struggles to preserve the family business.

Mystery, intrigue, big business protectionism, murder, espionage and, yes - even historical politics - are woven into this masterfully told, emotional vortex of action, adventure, redemption and revenge.

According to online book critic Patricia Day's review of "The Torch Is Passed," which she gave 5 stars, "This is a fast-paced story of greed, murder, and ambition. Thrown into the mix are characters from the Russian mob, whose cold, calculated methods to annihilate anyone crossing their path leave you breathless, and you have a book that will grab you from the very first page. It is a tale of corporate greed and misguided trust and broken trust. I enjoyed this book very much. There's a lot of detail, but the characters are strong and you quickly determine whose side you are on. Well written."

Bill Powers came to authorship from 26 years in pharmaceutical research with the Johnson & Johnson Company in north-central New Jersey. Both his parents were teachers and had great influence on his love of language, communication and story telling. With a Doctorate degree in Toxicology, and this wealth of experience in pharmaceutical research, Powers has morphed himself into a substantial writer of mystery and intrigue adeptly and forcefully crafting well-told stories rife with cunning and the art of the surprise reveal.

Z'Scoop recommends you read both books in order of publication - first "The Pharm House" and then "The Torch Is Passed." You'll be glad you did!

Still Marching On
Lynda Stephenson
Outskirts Press Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478771982; $27.95 PB; $6.99 Kindle; 430 pp.;

Kirkus Indie, Reviewer
Kirkus Media LLC

A resolute college student rails against discrimination and injustice in the South in this third novel in the Frankilee Baxter series by Stephenson (The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club, 2013, etc.).

Frankilee is well known for her steely determination. In previous novels, she helped save a girl from abusive parents, and dealt with burglary, kidnapping, a shooting, and heated racial issues - all taken in stride as part of her formative years.

In quieter moments, she continued her fervent hunt for a steady boyfriend. The third installment opens in 1960 with Frankilee transferring from Athena College in San Antonio to the University of Texas in Austin, along with her black roommate, Eleanor Wilson. Although the university is deemed to be integrated, they are met immediately with racial hatred. A landlady turns the two away screaming, "What do you mean, bringing this nigra girl to my front door?" They are pelted with tomatoes by fellow students who tell Eleanor to "go back to Africa" and hurl vicious insults at Frankilee. The women are rescued by Calvin Morris, Frankilee's old basketball coach and love interest, setting the tone for the remainder of the story: a blend of endearingly quirky romance and determined resistance to Southern bigotry.

Choosing to return to the expensive Athena against her mother's advice, Frankilee pushes to become an integral part of the civil rights movement, and attempts to gain a voice in the institution by becoming the editor of the college newspaper, her relationship with Calvin developing all the while. Stephenson possesses the rare ability to make a reader want to actively root for the protagonist. Frankilee is political, stubborn, and fiery, but she is also loyal, witty, and warm. It is difficult not to fall in love with her.

Despite excavating the abhorrent and often nonsensical nature of racism, the novel displays an effervescent humor and offers some delicious caricatures: "Mr. Hatham is a banty-rooster of a man with reddish hair carefully combed to hide no hair. He has an inflated chest and prancing feet." This elegant and intuitive writing, loaded with wisdom and charm, is prevalent throughout. The book delivers an astute examination of American race and gender politics, with a generous serving of love and laughter.

In this compelling and insightful tale, a strong Texas heroine passionately advocates civil rights.

Tell Our Grandchildren
Colleen Ristau
Privately Published
9781944243739, $9.95, 112pp

Dorothy Strandberg

Colleen Johnson as a tiny tot, could not pronounce her name correctly so it came out "Kie Jusset". The relatives latched onto that and that is what they called her.

The story weaves a picture of "Kie Jusset" growing up with a strong spiritual background in the Lutheran church and how that influenced every part of her life.

Will this prepare "Kie" for what was coming? There were the teen years with their special challenges, marriage, raising a family, a tornado where all material things were lost, a bout with tuberculosis that separated the family for months and finally a divorce leaving Colleen to raise most of her family.

The story also includes writing about World War II and its repercussions on every day life. What is unique about the story are the explicit details that form a wonderful picture of Midwestern farm life in the 1930's, and life stories.

Hero of My Dreams
J. R. Pitts
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478769057, $17.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 338pp,

Danielle Urban, Reviewer

Hero of My Dreams by J. R. Pitts is a fantasy all readers must have. It is fast-paced. Tons of action, as well as immediate danger, plunge readers deeper into the story. A journey that travels beyond space into dreams. This romantic story packs a lot. A peaceful planet in danger of a horrible invasion and they only have so much time before they find someone who can save them. One man on earth might be just the one. Alex, already a hero from fighting a war in his country keeps having dreams of a woman. What he doesn't expect or know is that the woman is real and her planet is in trouble. Dreams, love, fate, and war are all tied in beautifully by this talented writer. I normally am very picky when it comes to fantasy novels and this one has met every one of my expectations. I was instantly taken into the foreign world created in this stunning fictional piece. The characters were believable. Enemies can be defeated and dreams can come true. I loved reading Hero of My Dreams. Overall, I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.

To Find One's True Self
J. R. Pitts
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530199402, $7.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 222pp,

Tracy Slowiak, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite

In a unique and interesting new book by author J.R. Pitts, To Find One's True Self: Isaac Rooks Trailwalker is a book that will hook readers from the very first words and will keep them reading obsessively all the way through until the very end. Follow the story of mirror image characters, one belonging to Eden and one belonging to Earth, and their lives when they get switched to living in the wrong universe. Eventually, they return to the places where they belong. Their journeys in both universes are slightly off, and their experiences are formed both by who they truly are and the environments they have been raised in. Will Isaac, Jack, Cassandra and Isabella ever find who they truly are? You'll need to read the book to find out!

I very much enjoyed To Find One's True Self: Isaac Rooks Trailwalker. Author J.R. Pitts has done a great job in providing his readers with a truly unique story line that will definitely surprise them throughout. His world creation abilities are spot on, and he has written characters that his readers will relate to, connect with, and truly come to care about, thinking of them long after the story is done. If that isn't a hallmark of a great author, I'm not sure what is. I am pleased to be able to recommend To Find One's True Self: Isaac Rooks Trailwalker to any reader who enjoys works of fantasy, or just a good read of fiction in general. I look forward to reading more from the very talented author, J.R. Pitts, in the future!

Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids
Maranda Russell
4900 Lacross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781533327437, $6.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 74pp,

Tabitha Mix

Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird, written by award-winning children's author Maranda Russell, is a wonderfully fun book of very short stories and poems for kids. Weird is right. Middle graders (or thereabouts) with unusual tastes -- all middle graders, I think -- should find it a blast. Also fun for reading out loud, especially since the poems rhyme.

Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home
D'Anne Burwell
FocusUp Books
9780996254304, $14.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 314pp,

Katrina Kenison, Reviewer

D'Anne Burwell has written about her family's experience of her son's addiction in a profoundly revealing, quietly instructive memoir called†Saving Jake: When Addiction Hits Home. As she explains,†"Too few books have been written by parents battling the disease of addiction, while meanwhile an epidemic of prescription drug abuse leading to heroin in our youth rages on."

I will admit that I read much of this utterly harrowing, ultimately heartening book through tears. Tears of recognition. Tears of empathy. Tears that came simply from knowing, "This could be me." I will also admit that once I started, I couldn't put†Saving Jake†down. D'Anne Burwell writes with a novelist's gift for dialogue and detail. The result is a riveting story that held me in its grip even as it changed many of my assumptions about addiction and recovery.

And then there's this: D'Anne could easily be my best friend - or yours. With every page, I thought how with a few different strokes of fate, her story could be my story, or any family's story. In fact, it's a story that's unfolding in some variation right now in thousands of homes across the country.

Smart, engaging, athletic, Jake seems bound for success. When his grades begin to slip, when he withdraws from sports and his active family, his parents are concerned but realistic: teenagers need their space. And Jake is adept at coming up with one reasonable story after another. But it doesn't take long for his life to spiral downward. Experiments with marijuana soon lead to OxyContin. Addicted to heroin within a year of leaving home for college, he drops out of school, walks out of rehab, and winds up homeless on the streets of Boulder.

Struggling with fear, guilt, and a desperate desire to help her son, D'Anne must also confront new fissures in her marriage, her husband's own anger and confusion, and their daughter's depression. The disease of addiction affects them all, forever reshaping the dynamics of their close-knit family life.

Meanwhile, engaged in a fierce battle to save her child, D'Anne learns of the terrifying links between prescription drug abuse and skyrocketing heroin use among teenagers and young adults - kids from good backgrounds, solid families, and loving homes whose lives are nevertheless quietly, tragically spinning out of control.

With a flair for the quiet drama of real life, D'Anne Burwell traces each step of Jake's journey from typical American high schooler to homeless addict who's exhausted every option but one: the ultimate choice between life or death. And in the process she shares her own painful education as she comes to understand that to save her child she must step back and allow him to fight for his own soul.

As soon as I finished reading†Saving Jake†last spring, I brought the manuscript (as yet unpublished) over to a close friend whose own son is in recovery from heroin addiction. Taking the book from my hands she looked at me and asked, through sudden tears, "Does this boy live? Because I don't think I can read this if he doesn't."

Jake is one of the lucky ones. He does live, but his survival is not a foregone conclusion. Many of our kids don't make it. If you have teenagers in your life, you already know: these are confusing times and everyone is vulnerable. Life changes in a moment. Addiction is a disease. And no one is immune.

I do think that if†every†parent were to read this book, however, we would have a much better sense of what we're up against. Our kids and our families might have a better chance. Knowledge is power, after all. And D'Anne Burwell has done a great deal of homework. Her brave, compelling book removes the shame and silence from addiction and brings the truth of this epidemic into clear focus. If your child is struggling, you will find companionship and comfort in these pages. And if you are struggling, D'Anne's own journey of recovery will offer you a first-hand portrayal of what it means to detach with love.

In fact, the hard-earned wisdom of†Saving Jake†is a gift to anyone who has ever loved a child, harbored hope for another's healing, or come to the hard realization that the only life we can save is our own.

The Lie They Told: A Young Adult Novel
Jean S. Arbeiter
Full Court Press
9781938812590, $16.00, PB, 219pp,

Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Media LLC

Carola Pawlak, 15, living in Chicago's Polish Town, is shy, studious, and badly dressed, although other girls sometimes say her looks are "promising." She dreams of becoming a writer and has few friends other than Stan Carlson, a handsome Roma boy.

She and her sweet mother, Maria, walk on eggshells around Carola's angry, explosive stepfather, Henry Jaworski. That is, until a fight one day in which Carola, trying to protect her mother, strikes back. He attempts to destroy a prized silver amulet that Stan gave her - but it has a hidden knife, and Carola plunges it into Henry's chest.

Maria confesses to the crime, forcing a promise from Carola to go along, and is arrested. Unexpected help then arrives: Louise Lazaar, "the Chicago Tribune's leading 'sob sister.' " Sensing a story, Lazaar brings Carola to see T.J. O'Malley, Chicago's best criminal lawyer, who takes her mother's case. Carola gets a makeover - bobbed hair, cosmetics, new clothes - and Lazaar dubs her and Maria the "Mother-Daughter Angels," writing stories such as, "She Did It for Me,' Says Angel Daughter." But Maria's still in danger from other prisoners, and Carola learns that Stan's in trouble for giving her the mysterious amulet.

Arbeiter (A Mouton Coat: The Hunt for a Mother's Story, 2013, etc.) offers a sympathetic YA heroine who's also conventional in that she doesn't feel beautiful but is, and she wants to be a writer. Her romance with Stan is sweet and provides a little heat, and Carola has a chance to play the rescuer instead of the rescuee, which is unusual in the YA genre.

The 1920s setting is also vivid; Arbeiter gives a well-rounded sense of the era's highlights, such as flappers and actor Rudolph Valentino, and challenges, such as crime and injustice.

A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

Ann's Bookshelf

A Chinese Affair
Isabelle Li
Margaret River Press
9780994316769, $27.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 340pp,

"As if walking in a snowstorm, I look back to find my footsteps have been erased. I do not know where I am and can no longer find my way back".

So muses Crystal, a young woman who has left her Chinese homeland to live and work in Australia. She has left behind her family, her culture, her language and even her name, since it is too difficult for Australians to pronounce correctly. Instead, she chooses to call herself 'Crystal' - "perfect in structure and form, hard and clear in every molecule".

Crystal is not hard, she feels the disorientation that every migrant feels, although those who move to a place where language and culture are similar to that of their birthplace may feel it less acutely.

We meet Crystal first, married to an older Australian man with a grown up family. He has 'had the snip' but she is pregnant. How this came about is not stated but a later story allows the reader to believe she may have had a loving liaison with a young Chinese artist who is about to move to America. Crystal's dilemma is how and when she should break the news to her husband but this, frustratingly, is never resolved. Often in later stories, too, situations are developed but the outcomes are not revealed. This can be frustrating, but the stories themselves are beautifully told.

There are sixteen short stories in this book and the venues range from China to Singapore, Australia and a tropical island in the Philippines. Crystal turns up in a number of them, sometimes under her Chinese name, Xueqing, or at other times identifiable by her work as a translator. She is not always the focus or the narrator of the story and, at one point, this confused me when two consecutive stories, the first subtly linked to Crystal and the four previous stories, and both told in the first person, turned out as the second story progressed to be about two completely different children of different genders.

Other stories tell of Chinese relatives, of tragedies and love tangles, and of work experiences - including house-sitting in Australia and working as a translator at a conference. Without spelling things out, Li is expert at using telling details of situations and conversations to imply underlying tensions and cultural differences. She knows well what it is like to have, as one of the four sections of the book is titled, "Two tongues", and two very different perspectives of the world.

In 'Blue Lotus', late in the book, we meet Crystal again when she describes a return visit to China and the growth and industrialisation of the village where her mother, father and brother still live. She feels the changes which others note in her and she stands out as different with her new intolerance of noise and her Australian styled hair. In this industrial, polluted landscape, she thinks of the creative fantasies she weaves when Australians ask about her birthplace: "In spring the fruit trees blossom all at once....In summer, the willows burst against an azure sky like green fireworks...". And she writes of her Sydney flat in its beautiful setting. But neither that nor her Yoga practice can allay the well of sadness at the bottom of her heart. In Sydney, too, she is different, however hard she tries to fit in: "Looking at the fine food on the table, I wonder who I am, why I am here".

Isabelle Li, who grew up in China and has lived in Singapore and Australia, writes well and many of these stories have been published before in literary magazines. She clearly knows and understands the feelings of her characters, and she writes sensitively of their loves, losses, failures, achievements and resilience as they deal with the complexities of moving between cultures.

At one point Crystal tells her mother of her plan to write about their family history. Many of Li's stories seem to be a realisation of a similar plan, dealing with the stories of relatives and describing fragments of their lives during vast political changes in China. Some stories, however, would not fit this pattern at all. One rather oddly out-of-place but very good story, describes the feelings and experiences of a young woman and her partner as she undergoes IVF treatment.

My only real criticism of the book is the structure, which I found somewhat random and confusing. Overall, however, it is a most enjoyable read.

Simon Armitage
Faber & Faber Poetry
c/o Allen & Unwin
9780571302956, $32.99, HC, 103pages,

As an expression of grief, hope, love, loss and yearning, Pearl is a sad yet beautiful poem by an unidentified Medieval poet who lived at about the same time as Geoffrey Chaucer. Just one manuscript copy, written in Middle English, has survived. It is less well-known than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is also part of this old manuscript, perhaps because it has less story and drama. It is, however, a beautiful poem, and Simon Armitage has translated the difficult Middle English into fluent, easily-read language which vividly captures the imagery and the powerful emotions for the present-day reader.

The poem is spoken by an unnamed narrator who, on visiting a flower-filled garden where his infant daughter (his "precious pearl") is buried, experiences a sudden soul-soothing vision of the nearby forest in which suddenly every leaf is "like burning silver", every stone underfoot gleams like precious Oriental pearl, so that "even sunbeams" seem "dark and dim". He walks, full of wonder, through a forest filled with light and music until he comes to a river, on the far side of which, beneath a "crystal cliff", he sees "a child/ a noble girl, a young woman full of grace" and recognises her as his lost "pearl".

The conversation he has with this young woman, the questions he asks and her responses, form the remainder of the poem. And the whole poem becomes an allegorical lesson, based on Biblical stories and laced with Christian teachings on how to live, how to cope with grief and how to understand God's ways.

Yes, the teachings and the purpose of the poem are now no longer central to many readers' lives. But the poetry, the feelings and the beauty of the imagery are timeless.

Armitage, in his Introduction, speculates that the poet himself had felt the loss and grief which he expressed so powerfully in this poem. So, as a parent of one daughter, he offers his translation "in memory of the lost pearl - as a tribute to the courage of her father and as an act of condolence". As a poet, too, Armitage describes the careful and intricately complex structure of the poem, the ordering of rhythm and rhyme, the alliteration and the repetitions which, especially when read aloud as it used to be, carry the narrative along. He also writes feelingly of the difficulty any translator has in choosing whether to stick to the author's rhyming scheme and retain archaic words in order to do this; or to adopt the difficult alternative of maintaining the "musical orchestration" of the piece and finding appropriate modern alternatives to replace old words, many of which have no exact modern equivalents. "Every decision", he writes, "feels like a trade-off between sound and sense, between medieval authenticity and latter-day clarity, and between the precise and the poetic".

His own choice is to try to keep as much of the rhythm and rhyme as possible whilst making the text clear and modern. In this he succeeds admirably, and although I missed the formal rhythm and rhyme and was jarred at one point by his substitution of the modern-day slang word "yobs" for the archaic "boyes bolde", I found this new version lively and moving. It will certainly bring the poem to many who would never read the original.

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Art in Motion
John P. Lukavic & Laura Caruso, editors
Denver Art Museum
c/o University of Oklahoma Press (distribution)
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780914738633, $25.00, PB, 108pp,

Synopsis: In the summer of 2012, the Denver Art Museum hosted a symposium titled 'Art in Motion: Native American Explorations of Time, Place, and Thought', which brought artists Charlene Holy Bear, Leena Minifie, and Kent Monkman together with scholars Kristin Dowell, Aldona Jonaitis, and Daniel C. Swan to discuss American Indian art, using the idea of motion as a unifying theme. The perspectives explored in this volume reveal how scholars and artists with different backgrounds can employ overarching themes, such as motion, to investigate topics in arts and culture.

Now collected in a single volume, the first-person essays by artists Holy Bear, Minifie, and Monkman provide primary accounts of their artistic practices that have never been recorded or presented like this before. The chapters by Dowell, Jonaitis, and Swan present new directions in their scholarly research that are each, independent of this volume, important contributions to their fields. The authors explore wide-ranging subjects, including film and video, figurative sculpture, issues of representation and stereotypes, Native American Church art, and Tlingit dancing.

The visionary talks from "Art in Motion" have been adapted for publication and gathered together with a new introduction by symposium organizer John P. Lukavic, associate curator of native arts at the Denver Art Museum.

Critique: An original and illustrated anthology that is an informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Art in Motion: Native American Explorations of Time, Place, and Thought" is a critically important contribution to community, college, and academic library Contemporary Native American Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Art in Motion" is thoroughly reader friendly in tone, content, and commentary -- particularly for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject.

Reviving Old Scratch
Richard Beck
Fortress Press
P.O. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
9781506401355, $18.99, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: The devil has fallen on hard times. Surveys say that even the majority of Christians doubt Satan's existence. Burdened by doubts, skeptical believers find themselves divorced from Jesus' dramatic confrontation with Satan in the Gospels and from the struggle that galvanized the early church.

In "Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted", popular blogger and theologian Richard Beck reintroduces the devil to the modern world with a biblical, bold, and urgent vision of spiritual warfare: we must resist the devil by joining the kingdom of God's subversive campaign to interrupt the world with love.

Beck shows how conservative Christians too often overspiritualize the devil and demons, and progressive Christians reduce these forces to social justice issues. By understanding evil as a very real force in the world, we are better able to name it for what it is and thus to combat it as Jesus did.

Beck's own work in a prison Bible study and at a church for recovering addicts convinced him to take Satan more seriously, and they provide compelling illustrations as he challenges the contemporary (and strangely safe) versions of evil forces. The beliefs of liberals and conservatives alike will be tested by Beck's groundbreaking ideas, fascinating stories, and clear thinking. Because if Jesus took Satan seriously, says Beck, then so should we.

Critique: Impressively well written, soundly based on biblical theology and Christian tradition, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted" is an extraordinarily informative and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. While highly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reviving Old Scratch" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.77).

The Age of Em
Robin Handson
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780198754626, $34.95, HC, 368pp,

Synopsis: It's not just the plot of some science fiction movie t for robots to one day rule the world. Serious consideration is now being giving the question of what would a robot-ruled Earth like? Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or "ems".

Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer, and you have a robot brain, but recognizably human. Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. When they can be made cheaply, within perhaps a century, ems will displace humans in most jobs. In this new economic era, the world economy may double in size every few weeks.

Some say we can't know the future, especially following such a disruptive new technology, but Professor Robin Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems.

While human lives don't change greatly in the em era, em lives are as different from ours as our lives are from those of our farmer and forager ancestors. Ems make us question common assumptions of moral progress, because they reject many of the values we hold dear.

Read about em mind speeds, body sizes, job training and career paths, energy use and cooling infrastructure, virtual reality, aging and retirement, death and immortality, security, wealth inequality, religion, teleportation, identity, cities, politics, law, war, status, friendship and love. "The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth" shows you just how strange your descendants may be, though ems are no stranger than we would appear to our ancestors. To most ems, it seems good to be an em.

Critique: A masterpiece of seminal scholarship, as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth by Robin Hanson (Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a Research Associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University", is comprised of thirty chapters deftly organized into six sections: Basics; Physics; Economics; Organization; Sociology; Implications. While a critically important addition to community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Age of Em" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.39).

Stories of Music
Holly E. Tripp, editor
Timbre Press
PO Box 201435, Denver, CO 80220
9780996932707, $29.00, PB, 157pp,

Synopsis: Music is something all human beings have in common. Music transcends religion, race, language, and even time. Compiled and edited by Holly E. Tripp, "Stories of Music" is an interactive anthology of forty-five informed and informative essays that explores an array of experiences with music and how it has impacted people's lives, from its role in healing, community, and family traditions to musicianship, travel, and much more.

With contributions by authors and artists from 11 countries, "Stories of Musice" will take the reader on a journey around the world through poetry, nonfiction, photography, original music, and videos (the 'interactive' aspect of this anthology is the inclusion of URLs and QR codes which are provided throughout to direct readers to a free companion web edition, where they can enjoy the audio and video pieces).

Readers will learn how rock and blues music helped to heal the war-torn country of Bosnia, about the tradition of candombe drumming in Uruguay, and about the history of musicians who traveled on foot ranging from the balladeers of Victorian England and the Delta bluesmen of the early 20th century, to present day musicians who participate in the Massachusetts Walking Tour. Along with these and other stories, "Stories of Music" will introduce fascinating people and perspectives and inspire the love of music.

Critique: An original, extraordinary, thought-provoking, and superbly presented study, "Stories of Music" is a simply wonderful reading experience from beginning to end. Of special note is the beginning presentation with 'Suggestions for Enjoyment of This Book'. Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, a list of Acknowledgments; a list of References, and a listing of the contributors and their credentials, "Stories of Music" is firmly and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Music History & Appreciation collections in general, as well as the personal reading list of music students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject..

Elvis Style: From Zoot Suits to Jumpsuits
Zoey Goto
Libri Publishing
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780993000225, $27.99, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: The late Elvis Presley continues to be an iconic figure in American popular music and cultural history. As one of the most significant pop stars of the 20th century, Elvis' impact on the music world has been widely discussed and analyzed. Surprisingly, however, his influence on design and fashion remains largely overlooked. "Elvis Style: From Zoot Suits to Jumpsuits" by Zoey Goto is a pictorial celebration of the aesthetic world of Elvis Presley with insightful and informative commentary that investigates why Elvis was, and continues to be, an icon of style. "Elvis Style" focuses on his wonderfully expressive hairstyles, clothes, cars, and interiors. "Elvis Style" offers the reader an intriguing and insightful journey though the crazy, cool and at times kitsch world of a true megastar.

Critique: A unique and exceptionally well written, organized and presented study, ""Elvis Style: From Zoot Suits to Jumpsuits" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. An absolute 'must' for the legions of Elvis Presley fans, "Elvis Style" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Popular Culture collections in general, and Elvis Presley supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Dancing in a Jar
Adele Poynter
Breakwater Books
P.O.Box 2188, St. John's, NL A1C 6E6
9781550816303, $19.95, PB, 181pp,

Synopsis: Based on a true story, "Dancing in a Jar" by Adele Poynter fictionally elaborates on the real-life love affair of a young couple who leave New York City to live in the outport community of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, during the years of the Great Depression when the husband, Don Poynter, accepts a management position in the town's fluorspar mine. In a series of letters, some fictional and some real, Adele Poynter weaves a remarkable romantic tale through the life of a small mining town (capturing the sorrow and joyousness, the hardship and perseverance) to ultimately reveal how the loves of our lives are inherently united with our love of a landscape.

Critique: All the more impressive considering that "Dancing in a Jar" is author Adele Poynter's debut as a novelist, readers will find an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling story from beginning to end. Original, engaging, and entertaining, "Dancing in a Jar" is one of those all-too-rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While enthusiastically and unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dancing in a Jar" is also available in a Kindle format ($17.05).

The Abandonment Recovery Workbook
Susan Anderson
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608684274, $24.95, PB, 360pp,

Synopsis: "The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the Five Stages of Healing from Abandonment, Heartbreak, and Loss" by psychotherapist Susan Anderson (founder of the abandonment recovery movement, including thirty years' professional experience working with victims of trauma, grief, and loss), is a long out-of-print classic that has now been brought back into print by New World Library for the benefit of a whole new generation of counselors, therapists, and the general public, The experience of abandonment can stem experiencing divorce, breakups, death, or the loss of friendship, the onset of ill health, being let go from a job, or the failure to achieve a dream, is a challenge faced sooner or later in every life. No other workbook so directly and practically addresses the specific issue of feeling abandoned. Readers learn to face five psychological stages of abandonment (shattering, withdrawal, internalizing, rage, and lifting) with concrete recovery tools, including discovering and healing old and underlying issues; identifying self-defeating behaviors of mistrust and insecurity; and building self-esteem. While healing from heartbreak and freedom from pain are the goals of most sufferers, readers also lay the foundation for experiencing a renewed, perhaps better-than-ever, sense of self and a profound ability to love and be loved.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the Five Stages of Healing from Abandonment, Heartbreak, and Loss" is impressively 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation. Practical, insightful, informative, and ideal for use as a therapeutic counseling tool, "The Abandonment Recovery Workbook" is unreservedly recommended. For professionals and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "The Abandonment Recovery Workbook" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Susan Bethany

Bonnye's Bookshelf

A Pit Pony Named Bobbit
Sally Sutherland
Publication Consultants
P.O. Box 221974, Anchorage, AK 99522-1974
9781594336119, $17.95, PB, 192pp,

"A Pit Pony Named Bobbit" is the story of two teens living in the early 1950s. Bob works in a West Virginia coal mine with his small horse Bobbit. They face danger and drudgery in the mines everyday, but Bob has to support his family and has no other way to do so. One day he has an opportunity to change his life for the better. Meanwhile, in another town not too far away, a young girl contracts polio at a summer camp and as a result is paralyzed from the waist down. Carrie's bright future is arrested and she becomes deeply depressed. The small horse who has worked in the coal pits with Bob becomes the catalyst that will eventually bring these two young people together and will help each of them face and overcome the nearly insurmountable odds of their lives. This book has the flavor of "October Sky" by Homer Hickam. I highly recommend it for personal reading and for community library Historical Fiction collections. Also available in Kindle edition ($8.99, 9781594336102).

The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound
Steve Levi
Publication Consultants
P.O. Box 221974, Anchorage, AK 99522-1974
9781594336515, $17.95, PB, 210pp,

A request for consultation on a case in San Francisco diverts Captain Heinz Noonan of Sandersonville, North Carolina from his exciting Alaska vacation to fish for king salmon. He accepts the assignment begrudgingly and makes every effort to solve the case before the king salmon fishing season closes. The case that meets his arrival is the disappearance of a Greyhound bus off the Golden Gate Bridge. Knowing the bus was going toward the Golden Gate Bridge, the far end was closed before the bus could reach it. Police chased the Greyhound onto the bridge. The Greyhound carries four perpetrators of a bank robbery, $10 million dollars, and safety deposit box contents. In addition the bus carries hostages. Noonan, the San Francisco Police, the Insurance Company, a newspaper reporter, and the owner of the $10 million in cash all break into a frantic dash to do their part to reclaim the stolen goods. This is a compelling and well crafted read.† Steve Levi's "The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound" is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense shelves. "The Matter of the Vanishing Greyhound" is also available in Kindle format ($9.95, 9781594336522).

Bonnye Matthews

Buhle's Bookshelf

Margin of Victory
Douglas Macgregor
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612519968, $34.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: In "Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War" by decorated American combat veteran Col. Douglas Macgregor (Ret.) tells the riveting stories of five military battles of the twentieth century, each one a turning point in history.

Beginning with the British Expeditionary force holding the line at the Battle of Mons in 1914 and concluding with the Battle of Easting in 1991 during Desert Storm, "Margin of Victory" teases out a connection between these battles and teaches its readers an important lesson about how future battles can be won.

Emphasizing military strategy, force design, and modernization, Macgregor links each of these seemingly isolated battles thematically. At the core of his analysis, the author reminds the reader that to be successful, military action must always be congruent with national culture, geography, and scientific-industrial capacity. He theorizes that strategy and geopolitics are ultimately more influential than ideology. Macgregor stresses that if nation-states want to be successful, they must accept the need for and the inevitability of change.

The five warfighting dramas in "Margin of Victory", rendered in vivid detail by lively prose, offer many lessons on the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war.

Critique: A model of military history and analysis, "Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War" is enhanced with the inclusion of sixteen maps, two tables, two figures, fifty pages of notes, a ten page selected bibliography, and a thirty-three page index, "Margin of Victory" is an extraordinarily informed and informative study that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community and academic library Military History collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Margin of Victory" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.22).

Introduction to Human Relations Studies
George Henderson & Wesley C. Long
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398091217, $62.95, PB, 364pp,

Synopsis: In "Introduction to Human Relations Studies: Academic Foundations and Selected Social Justice Issues", authors George Henderson and Wesley C. Long draw upon their personal experience and expertise as professors of human relations and community activists at the University of Oklahoma, and their participation in the largest degree-granting human relations program in the United States.

The specific objectives of "Introduction to Human Relations Studies" are to prepare students to work for the provision of equal opportunities for minority groups and women, develop skills pertaining to leadership, communication, group and organizational behaviors by the analysis of behavioral science data, and to function responsibly in situations where conflict and tension call for coordination of interpersonal, intergroup and organization efforts.

The programs discussed in "Introduction to Human Relations Studies" were specifically designed to provide participants with opportunities to gain self-insight, knowledge of moral and ethical codes of behaviors as well as group dynamics, communication skills, and cognitive tools used to diagnose problems and select the appropriate strategies for change.

Unique features of "Introduction to Human Relations Studies" include: historical and current human relations problems and strategies; interdisciplinary approaches to the creation and development of human relations programs; an educational approach to the ways of supplementing and complementing relevant issues; emphasis on social justice and equity; and the similarities and differences among and between culturally different people.

Several of the articles and essays comprising "Introduction to Human Relations Studies" illustrate a few of the issues that concerned professional helpers may be involved in are included. Special attention is given to the consequences of unequal educational, economic, political, and social opportunities for some of our nation's citizens.

Critique: Informed and informative, "Introduction to Human Relations Studies: Academic Foundations and Selected Social Justice Issues" is a complete course of instruction and will prove to be an invaluable tool for students who are enrolled in their first courses pertaining to professional helpers, teachers, licensed therapists, counselors, business managers, human service practitioners, and community organizers. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Introduction to Human Relations Studies" is unreservedly recommended for college and university library Interpersonal Relations collection and supplemental studies reading lists.

Football's Game Changers
Barry Wilner & Ken Rappoport
The Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
246 Goose Lane, Suite 200, Guilford, CT 06437
9781493024216, $19.95, PB, 228pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of sportswriters Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport, "Football's Game Changers: Icons, Record Breakers, Scandals, Super Bowls, and More" is the second volume in the outstanding Lyons Press 'Game Changers' sports series. "Football's Game Changers" addresses a series of questions including: What were the 50 most revolutionary personalities, rules, pieces of equipment, controversies, organizational changes, radio and television advancements, and more in the history of football -- as well as how, exactly, did they forever change the game? "Football's Game Changers" offers fascinating, detailed explanations along with a ranking system from 1 to 50 that is sure to inspire debate among professional and college gridiron aficionados. Ranging from each sport's beginnings to today and tackling on-the-field and off-the-field developments, "Football's Game Changers" offers an inherently fascinating history of professional football through its turning-points and innovations. Of special notes are the full-color illustrations, and including photos, pull-outs, and sidebars throughout this informed and informative study.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Football's Game Changers: Icons, Record Breakers, Scandals, Super Bowls, and More" is impressively 'reader friendly' in tone, content, and commentary. While enthusiastically and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Sports/Athletics collections in general, and professional football history supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject the "Football's Game Changer" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.25).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Higher Probability Commodity Trading
Carley Garner
Decarley Trading, LLC
c/o Wyatt-MacKenzie
9781942545521, $39.99, HC, 280pp,

Synopsis: Offering a complete course of instruction, "Higher Probability Commodity Trading: A Comprehensive Guide to Commodity Market Analysis, Strategy Development, and Risk Management Techniques Aimed at Favorably Shifting the Odds of Success" takes readers explains commodity markets by shedding light on topics rarely discussed in trading literature from a unique perspective, with the intention of increasing the odds of success for market participants.

In author and seasoned commodity trader Carley Garner's quest to guide traders through the process of commodity market analysis, strategy development, and risk management, "Higher Probability Commodity Trading" discusses several alternative market concepts and unconventional views such as option selling tactics, hedging futures positions with options, and combining the practice of fundamental, technical, seasonal, and sentiment analysis to gauge market price changes.

Garner has a positive knack for portraying complex commodity trading concepts, in an easy-to-read and entertaining format. Readers of "Higher Probability Commodity Trading" are sure to walk away with a better understanding of the futures and options market, but more importantly with the benefit of years of market lessons learned without the expensive lessons.

Critique: Carley Garner, is a frequent contributor of commodity market analysis to CNBC's Mad Money TV show hosted by Jim Cramer. She has also been a futures and options broker, where for over a decade she has had a front row seat to the victories and defeats the commodity markets deal to traders. In "Higher Probability Commodity Trading: A Comprehensive Guide to Commodity Market Analysis, Strategy Development, and Risk Management Techniques Aimed at Favorably Shifting the Odds of Success" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide a thoroughly 'reader friendly' introduction to commodity trading that is as informed and informative as it is insightfully practical and immediately applicable. An ideal presentation for novice commodity traders, and with a great deal of enduring value for anyone already involved with commodity trading, "Higher Probability Commodity Trading" is unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, professional, college, and university library Financial Investing & Economics reference collections in general, and Commodity Trading supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Higher Probability Commodity Trading" is also available in a Kindle format ($24.99).

The Israel Warrior
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652298836, $19.95, HC, 222pp,

Synopsis: From its creation in 1947 down to the present day, there have been nonstop attacks on Israel that reek of double standards and antisemitic hatred. Today antisemites propose an infamous moral equivalency of Jews dying as targets of terrorists to those of Palestinians dying as a result of having undertaken acts of terrorism. With the United Nations continuous condemnation of the only democratic country in the Middle East, while overlooking the ghastly human rights abuses of its Arab neighbors. Then there is the constant drum roll of duplicity of the Western media which cares more when Israelis add rooms to apartments in East Jerusalem than when over 470,000 Arabs are killed in Syria. It is against this backdrop that Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has written "The Israel Warrior: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner" as a means of providing the general reading public with the information and the tools needed so that they can utilize knowledge and wit to fight back in any debate, or discussion, or dialogue to publicize the justice of Israel's cause. Simply stated, "The Israel Warrior" is dedicated to the proposition that Israel can and will win the argument in the marketplace of ideas because her greatest commodity is the minds and souls of those who care enough to learn the truth and then, armed with that truth, the courage to take a stand.

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and presented, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary, "The Israel Warrior: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner" should be considered a mandatory study for anyone and everyone who supports the Jewish homeland of Israel against its many detractors and hostile defamations. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Israeli History collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Israel Warrior" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.66).

Handbook of Photosynthesis
Mohammad Pessarakli, editor
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781482230734, $229.95, HC, 804pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Mohammad Pessarakli, this newly revised, updated, and expanded third edition includes many new ideas on photosynthesis that have emerged in the past decade, and which have drawn the attention of experts and researchers on the subject as well as interest from individuals in other disciplines. This new edition of the "Handbook of Photosynthesis" has now includes 37 original chapters and making extensive revisions to the chapters that have been retained, 90% of the material in this edition is entirely new.

Featuring contributions of forty-two articles from over 100 authors drawn from around the globe, the "Handbook of Photosynthesis" covers the most recent important research findings. It details all photosynthetic factors and processes under normal and stressful conditions, explores the relationship between photosynthesis and other plant physiological processes, and relates photosynthesis to plant production and crop yields.

The new third edition also presents an extensive new section on the molecular aspects of photosynthesis, focusing on photosystems, photosynthetic enzymes, and genes. New chapters on photosynthesis in lower and monocellular plants as well as in higher plants are included in this section.

The "Handbook of Photosynthesis" also addresses growing concerns about excessive levels and high accumulation rates of carbon dioxide due to industrialization. It considers plant species with the most efficient photosynthetic pathways that can help improve the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Essentially, the "Handbook of Photosynthesis", provides a nearly entirely new source on the subject that is both comprehensive and timely. It continues to fill the need for an authoritative and exhaustive resource by assembling a global team of experts to provide thorough coverage of the subject while focusing on finding solutions to relevant contemporary issues related to the field.

Critique: Mohammad Pessarakli is a professor at the University of Arizona School of Plant Sciences. His work at the university includes research and extension services as well as teaching courses in turfgrass science, management, and stress physiology. The "Handbook of Photosynthesis" is a standard and successful textbook on the subject and with all the new data provided, will continue to be a critically important and comprehensive foundation of a college level Agricultural Studies curriculum on photosynthesis. While a 'must' for college and library Agricultural Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject of photosynthesis that the "Handbook of Photosynthesis" is also available in a Kindle edition ($218.45).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Dealing With Difficult People
Roy Lilley
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749475598, $14.95, PB, 145pp,

Synopsis: Roy Lilley is a writer, commentator, and conference speaker on health, change management and social issues. In "Dealing With Difficult People" he deftly tackles an issue that everyone in business will encounter again and again and again in the course of their career.

Workplaces are filled with all types of people, and some of them can be very difficult to get along with. Then there is having to deal with the general public. By understanding difficult people and their behaviors, a savvy individual can resolve the awkward and problematic situations they create.

"Dealing with Difficult People" examines all aspects of difficult behavior inclusion: what drives it; how to cope with it by managing aggression; avoiding awkward situations; and keeping calm. This newly revised and expanded third edition provides brand new summary points for each chapter and the tools and techniques for dealing with difficult customers, difficult people in the digital sphere, and difficult bosses.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary, "Dealing With Difficult People" is an invaluable read from beginning to end and should be considered an essential, core addition to community, corporate, college, and university library Business Management collections in general, and Workplace Management supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dealing With Difficult People" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Ancient Mediterranean Religions
John Stephens
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
9781443890687, British Pounds 47.99, 305pp, HC,

Synopsis: "Ancient Mediterranean Religions: Myth, Ritual and Religious Experience" by author and researcher in the field of religious studies John Stephens offers a clear and concise historical overview of the major religious movements of the ancient Mediterranean world existing from the time of the second millennium BCE up until the fourth century CE, including both the Judeo-Christian and pagan religious traditions. Recognizing the significant role of religious institutions in human history and acknowledging the diversity of religious ideas and practices in the ancient Mediterranean world, "religion" is defined as a collection of myths, beliefs, rituals, ethical practices, social institutions and experiences related to the realm of the sacred cosmos. Without focusing too much attention on technicalities and complex vocabulary, "Ancient Mediterranean Religions" provides an introductory road map for exploring the vast array of religious data permeating the ancient Mediterranean world.

Through an examination of literary and archeological evidence, "Ancient Mediterranean Religions" summarizes the fundamental religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Near Eastern world, including the religious traditions of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Israel. Turning westward, the fascinating world of ancient Greek and Roman religion is considered next. The discussion begins with a description of Minoan-Mycenaean religion, followed by a consideration of classical Roman and Greek religion. Next, the numerous religious movements that blossomed during Hellenistic-Roman times are discussed. In addition, the fundamental theological contributions of various Greco-Roman philosophical schools of thought, including Orphism, Stoicism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism and Neo-Platonism, are described. Greco-Roman philosophy functioned as a quasi-religious outlook for many, and played a decisive role in the evolution of religion in the classical and Hellenistic period. The theological speculations of the philosophers regarding the nature of God and the soul made a huge impact in religious circles during the classical and Hellenistic era.

Moving forward in history from archaic and classical times to the later Hellenistic-Roman period, the old religious order of the past falls by the wayside and a new updated religious paradigm begins to develop throughout the Mediterranean world, with a greater emphasis being placed upon the religious individual and the expression of personal religious feelings. There are several important social and historical reasons for this shift in perspective and these factors are explained in the chapter focusing upon personal religion in Hellenistic times. Since the entire religious topography of the ancient Mediterranean world is rarely outlined in a single volume, "Ancient Mediterranean Religions" is a rare exception.

Critique: Exhaustively researched, impressively well written, exceptionally and accessibly organized and presented, "Ancient Mediterranean Religions: Myth, Ritual and Religious Experience" is study of extraordinary and seminal scholarship. Enhanced with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography and a nineteen page Index, "Ancient Mediterranean Religions" is a critically important addition to personal, community, college, and university library Ancient History collections in general, and Mediterranean Religions of Antiquity supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The Metamorphoses of Fat
Georges Vigarello
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231159760, $35.00, HC, 264pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "The Metamorphoses of Fat: A History of Obesity", Georges Vigarello (Research Director at the Ecole des Hautes Erudes en Sciences Sociales) maps the evolution of Western ideas about fat and fat people from the Middle Ages to the present, paying particular attention to the role of science, fashion, fitness crazes, and public health campaigns in shaping these views. While hefty bodies were once a sign of power, today those who struggle to lose weight are considered poor in character and weak in mind. Vigarello traces the eventual equation of fatness with infirmity and the way we have come to define ourselves and others in terms of body type.

Vigarello begins with the medieval artists and intellectuals who treated heavy bodies as symbols of force and prosperity. He then follows the shift during the Renaissance and early modern period to courtly, medical, and religious codes that increasingly favored moderation and discouraged excess.

Scientific advances in the eighteenth century also brought greater knowledge of food and the body's processes, recasting fatness as the "relaxed" antithesis of health. The body-as-mechanism metaphor intensified in the early nineteenth century, with the chemistry revolution and heightened attention to food-as-fuel, which turned the body into a kind of furnace or engine. During this period, social attitudes toward fat became conflicted, with the bourgeois male belly operating as a sign of prestige but also as a symbol of greed and exploitation, while the overweight female was admired only if she was working class.

Vigarello concludes with the fitness and body-conscious movements of the twentieth century and the proliferation of personal confessions about obesity, which tied fat more closely to notions of personality, politics, taste, and class.

Critique: Deftly translated from French into English for the benefit of an American readership by C. Jon Delogu (Professor of English, Universite Jean Moulin, Lyon 3, in France), "The Metamorphoses of Fat: A History of Obesity" is enhanced with the inclusion of forty-eight pages of Notes, and a twelve page Index. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Metamorphoses of Fat" is a unique and seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "The Metamorphoses of Fat" is also available in a paperback edition (9780231159777, $25.00) and in a Kindle format ($15.65).

Michael J. Carson

Chutsky's Bookshelf

The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Kim Barker
Anchor Books
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307477385, $15.95 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 302 pages,

Barker's book, "The Taliban Shuffle" about her years reporting from the "forgotten war" is written with an investigative fervor, edged with a sardonic wit, that attempts to turn over the thousand grains of sands that were smacking her in the face for half a decade in the unholy mess of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A brilliant sardonic Foreign Culture101, that should be required reading for all Military and Political higher ups' making decisions on how we should best continue our involvement in the region, because through her memoir one actually has a chance at understanding the whole underbelly of the Middle-East beast.

The guts of the book exposes the complicated mess and Qaddafi-esque characters running the nuthouse over there, and the futile (mess) the International forces are enmeshed in while trying to stay alive.

The Synopsis:

In 2002. Kim Baker, a non-married childless 30 something reporter for the Chicago tribune is foisted from her comfortably safe yet monotonous desk job and thrust into the wild and crazy initiation of reporting from the warlord-torn-bi-polar-dysfunctional-Islamic-land of Afghanistan; a country stuck "somewhere between the 7th century and Vegas," where the truth, which matters utmost to a reporter, doesn't matter a hell-uva-lot.

Immediately upon her arrival in Afghanistan, she realized that she is ill-prepared emotionally for this assignment; facing the ever present dangers of car bombs and terrorist attacks and the crudest of living conditions in a country where women were sequestered to peak out at life from under a head to foot burka. The only two plus's- she got away with going out under the guise of a head scarf and her attractive rating doubled from an average 5 to the heights of a ten, hovering to an overtly off the charts, "great piece of a**." The drawback, in the words of the real Kim Barker, "The odds were good but the goods were odd."

After a rocky initiation into the cloistered party frat like existence and non-conventional reporting, Kim began to revel in her front row seat to the forgotten Afghanistan War. She began running on the treadmill of Middle Eastern history and didn't want get off. The crazy world of Afghanistan became her preferred home.

Farouq, her Afghan "fixer" became her closest friend and ally. He had the connections to arrange meetings with high level regional political leaders (as high as Karzai, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto) as well as high level subversively clandestine players in the region. Like a Mafioso family, the controlling factions operated in a complicated web of perpetual tribal feuds where revenge obligations were passed down for generations in respective families.

Kim keenly observed the failures and futility of the Quick- Fix-Big Bang-for-your-Buck approach the international community was wasting on the regional conflicts trying to get these discordant people to trust one another and live in a peaceful Democracy.

Using her wry wit and incisive insistent voice, she kept digging and digging to get at the foundations of the country's psyche but only found layer after layer of corruption and debacle. Unfortunately her reporting was becoming less and less valuable to the powers at be, her bosses, at the Chicago Tribune, who by some account were fighting their own war against the rise of 24 hour TV news and the evolutionary demise of the very existence of newspapers. Foreign bureaus were expensive and on the chopping block, which left Kim paying a lot her expenses out of her own pocket, just to keep her Afghanistan beat.

In fact, her biggest frustration was that the topline movers and shakers were a country away, reporting on the more high profile Iraq war. And in an attempt to get her own stories more coverage, she took more and more chances that proved dangerous, like a junky taking bigger risks to get a bigger high.

The crash would come when her cocky English fellow journalist was kidnapped by the Taliban. It was a reality check that got her packing for the states, and the real world. She did leave behind a gray plastic trunk in the foreign correspondents dorm: filled with books on Pashtun tribes, a dozen scarves given to her by Afghans over the years, unused notebooks and pens with Afghan on the side. It keeps company with the scores of other trunks left by foreigners like herself "unwilling to fully commit to leaving Afghanistan but unable to figure out how to stay," in a country as badly organized as a plate of spaghetti.

Fascinating, eye opening, brilliant writing indeed.

My Heart Can't Even Believe It
Amy Silverman
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Road, Bethesda MD, 20817
9781606132746, $21.95 PB, $15.34 Kindle, 282 pages,

Amy Silverman poignantly straddles the roles of mother and reporter while presenting her joyful and pained experiences raising a child with Down syndrome. Somehow that press-pass suit of armor allowed her to unabashedly share her intimate story.

Her book, "My Heart Can't Even Believe It," the name derived from a lovely quote uttered from her special-needs daughter Sophie's lips, is part therapy, part blog, part girl chat, part scientific journal. A fluid memoir that offers up some life therapy alongside life's miracles.

Once confronted with the pained news that her daughter had Down syndrome, this determined mother, was doubly determined not to be the typical special-needs mom but quickly realized, who is?

Whose comfort zone encompasses that.

She had to take it one day at a time, while holding tight to the mantra, "What is a normal family anyway?" Or best addressed by her older daughter Annabelle, Sophie's sister, when she said, "If that's her, that's her." In other words, hey deal with it mom.

And Amy did. It took the reporter in her to deal with the frightening avalanche of information on the health and social issues facing Down syndrome children, as well as adults. The 'Patton-esque' organizer in her to strategize and battle plan the private army of services and workers she would need to pull it all off. But it took the mom in her to know it would somehow be alright.

Sometimes one must rise to the challenge when there is no other choice, and in doing that we find we are even stronger than we ever thought imaginable. Sometimes those bends in the road take us somewhere we couldn't have comprehended forcing us to do things way outside our comfort zone for the ones we love. And sometimes that's where life actually begins.

Amy Silverman's book offers a wonderful demystification of DS for all moms and dads of Down syndrome children, as well as an education for the rest. And maybe some inspiration for those suited to making inroads on the scientific affront to this chromosomal genetic disorder.

In the end it is an Ode to housewives everywhere who attack daily stressful issues while trying to better the lives of their families. Her best advice for dealing with life; "get outside of it... and question it like a reporter.....then live it with all your heart!"

Well said.

Karen Chutsky, Reviewer

Clint's Bookshelf

Abandoned in Search of Rainbows
A.K. Driggs
Book Publishers Network
PO Box 2256, Bothell, WA 98041
9781940598772 $18.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Discovered inside a brown paper bag left on a toilet seat in a Rochester, New York, bar-and-grill washroom, newborn A. K. Driggs made headlines from the start. Adopted by a loving couple, she continued making waves on her extraordinary life journey - animal communicator, musical prodigy, bisexual lover, phone-sex superstar, recording artist. . . . Welcome to the colorful world of A. K. Driggs.

From abandonment and betrayal to unconditional love and trust, Abandoned in Search of Rainbows chronicles Driggs's incredible life. Her provocative, often sizzling, candor lets us experience the whole spectrum of emotions as Driggs searches for a meaningful life.
By finally finding her place in the world - personally and professionally, romantically and sexually, musically and spiritually - Driggs illuminates a magical path for each of us to follow to get there too. As she says in her song, "I Found the Rainbow":

In perfect harmony/My answers are clear.
With my eyes finally open/And now I can see.
For I found the rainbow/And the rainbow is . . . ME.

Critique: Abandoned in Search of Rainbows is the multifaceted story of author A.K. Driggs, young woman abandoned at birth, adopted by loving parents, and dedicated to sharing her many talents, from singing to communicating with animals. Driggs also speaks candidly of the importance of a healthy love and sex life, and tells of her work as a phone-sex operator, her search for love and passion as a bisexual, and the joy of sharing her life and creativity with a partner. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Abandoned in Search of Rainbows is also in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Haven of Evil
Melvin Rivers
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781494317461, $12.99, PB, 262pp,

Synopsis: A deftly written tale of supernatural horror, "Haven of Evil" is story of how when floodwaters destroyed Kevin and Sandra Wilson's home and personal possessions, the couple moved into a house in a town called Havenville. All too soon Kevin would learn about the house's evil past after a series of eerily strange and terrifying events -- including Sandra erupting into a murderous range. Something truly evil is stirring -- will Kevin and Sandra survive?

Critique: Melvin Rivers' "Haven of Evil" is a consistently compelling novel by an author who has clearly masters the Horror/Suspense genre. A riveting read from first page to last, "Haven of Evil" is highly recommended for community library collections in general, and the personal reading lists of horror fantasy enthusiasts in particular.

Diluted Reality
Jessica Spinelli
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781494926816, $10.65, PB, 281pp,

Synopsis: Xavier has always known he was a mistake. Born to a promiscuous, drug-addicted mother, his hellish childhood in a radically religious and abusive household drives him in and out of institutions until he finally escapes at age sixteen. A natural loner, with music and art as his only companions, Xavier nevertheless joins with his old friend Avry, traveling the country together. But everything changes in New Orleans when Xavier meets Delia, whose past included things of the macabre, laced with heroin. Together Delia and Xavier begin a vicious drug and sex induced downward spiral. Their destructive cycle eventually drives Avry away until Xavier manages to extricate himself from Delia's seductive embrace. While searching for Avry in New York, Xavier meets Angelika, a former drug addict who has managed to turn her life around. Believing he may have finally found happiness, Xavier's world is once again plunged into darkness when he learns a horrifying truth that forces him to face his inner demon head on.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting read from beginning to end, "Diluted Reality" is an extraordinary story that reveals author Jessica Spinelli to be a particularly gifted and original novelist of the first order. "Diluted Reality" is all the more impressive when considering that it is Jessica's debut as an author. Memorable characters, a complex web of social issues, and the every present quandary of personal responsibility in a milieu of ultimately destructive social pressures, "Diluted Reality" is a compelling and recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

Iben Mondrup, author
Kerri A. Pierce, translator
Open Letter Books
c/o University of Rochester
Lattimore Hall 411, Box 270082, Rochester, NY 14627
9781940953489, $14.95, PB, 218pp,

Synopsis: "Justine" by Polish author Iben Mondrup is the story of a young female artist whose life is upended when her house burns down with all of the paintings for her upcoming exhibit inside. With little time left to recreate everything she's lost, Justine embarks on a series of sexual escapades with a sort of doomed intensity that foreshadows the novel's final, dark twist. Through flashbacks and fragmented memories, we see Justine as a student at the Art Academy first discovering the misogynistic order that rules the Danish art world, and later on as she constantly challenges its expectations -- both in the studio and in bed. A personal meditation on artistic identity, the creative process, and the male-dominated art scene, this deftly crafted novel veers between the erotic and the savage, resulting in a spellbinding read from one of Denmark's edgiest contemporary feminist writers.

Critique: Ably translated into English by Kerri A. Pierce, "Justine" is a compelling read from beginning to end and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Justine" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Clint Travis

Julie's Bookshelf

Online Teaching in K-12
Sarah Bryans-Bongey & Kevin J. Graziano
Information Today, Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750
9781573875271, $65.00, HC, 324pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by academicians Sarah Bryans-Bongey (Assistant Professor of Education, Nevada State College) and Kevin J. Graziano (Professor of Education, Nevada State College), "Online Teaching in K-12: Models, Methods, and Best Practices for Teachers and Administrators" is the essential hands-on reference and textbook for education professionals seeking success in the planning, design, and teaching of K-12 online courses and programs. This skillfully edited volume brings together more than two dozen experts and practitioners to present an array of innovative models and methods, successful programs and practices, useful tools and resources, and need-to-know information on diverse aspects of online teaching and learning.

Critique: Deftly organized in three parts (Foundations, Supporting Diverse Learners, and Implementation Strategies Online), the seventeen contributions comprising "Online Teaching in K-12: Models, Methods, and Best Practices for Teachers and Administrators" will be welcomed for the clear and timely coverage they provide which is specifically geared to supporting teachers, administrators, professional trainers, colleges, and schools in their quest for excellence in online primary education. Enhanced with the inclusion of Tables, Figures, an informative Foreword and Introduction, a four page appendix of Abbreviations, a two page listing of the editors, a ten page roster of the contributors and their credentials, and a seven page Index, "Online Teaching in K-12" is a critically important addition to college and university library Teacher Education reference collections in general, and Online Teaching supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For the personal reading lists of teachers and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Online Teaching in K-12" is also available in a Kindle edition ($45.50).

Aromatherapy in Midwifery Practice
Denise Tiran
Singing Dragon
c/o Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781848192881, $39.95, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Aromatherapy is increasingly incorporated into midwifery practice, particularly in midwife-led units. It is the most commonly used therapy by midwives and birthing practitioners but access to up-to-date safety information has historically been quite limited. Almost 90% of women may be using complementary therapies during pregnancy and birth and so it is very important that midwives are aware of safe and appropriate use based on contemporary evidence. "Aromatherapy in Midwifery Practice" by Denise Tiran (a midwifery lecturer, complementary practitioner, and international author on maternity complementary medicine) covers safety, effectiveness, evidence, benefits and risks, and legal, ethical and professional issues related to incorporating aromatherapy into maternity care. Useful charts and tables are included for quick reference in clinical practice, making this is the ultimate handbook for using aromatherapy in midwifery practice. The scientific basis behind aromatherapy, including relevant anatomy and physiology, chemistry and pharmacology are covered, as well as a critical appraisal of the contemporary research evidence supporting the use of aromatherapy in maternity care. Essential oil profiles of the oils that can be safely used in pregnancy, birth and postnatally are also included.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Aromatherapy in Midwifery Practice" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary. "Aromatherpy in Midwifery Practice" is enhanced with the inclusion of a three page Glossary, a two page listing of Resources, a twenty page Subject Index, and an Author Index. Providing a complete course of detailed and documented instruction under one cover, "Aromatherapy in Midwifery Practice" is unreservedly recommended for professional, community, college, and university Midwifery instructional reference collections in general, and midwifery supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for midwifery students, practitioners, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Aromatherpy in Midwifery Practice" is also available in a Kindle format ($23.99).

The Midland Hotel: Morecambes White Hope
Barry Guise & Pam Brook
Carnegie Publishing
c/o Casemate
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781874181552, $27.00, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: A collaboratively written history by Barry Guise and Pam Brook, "The Midland Hotel: Morecambes White Hope" is the detailed story of a hotel from its inception and 1930s prime, through its role as a hospital in World War II, to its sale into private ownership, and its fluctuating fortunes that reached rock-bottom in 2002. That was when this former elegant embodiment of glamour and luxury had devolved into a truly sorry sight. It was empty, save for the vagrants and pigeons, with peeling paint, broken windows and a leaking roof -- and barely staving off demolition. At the eleventh hour, however, rescue came in the shape of award-winning property developers, Urban Splash who purchased the building in 2003.

Critique: A profusely illustrated, informed and informative account, "The Midland Hotel: Morecambes White Hope" will prove to be a 'must read' for anyone who every stayed at the Midland Hotel (especially its heyday) and would prove to be an excellent template for writing the histories of other landmark hotels anywhere else in the country. A unique and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "The Midland Hotel: Morecambes White Hope" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections.

The One Who Got Away
Kristina Wright, editor
Cleis Press
101 Hudson Street, Suite 3705, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
9781627781770, $15.95, PB, 206pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Kristina Wright, "The One Who Got Away" is an anthology of fourteen erotic romance short stories specifically written for women.

We all have... that One, the one who got away. The one we fell for or simply were attracted to, but we never got. That One, but not necessarily The One, at least not the first time around. That One who slips into our fantasies late at night when we're feeling melancholy or nostalgic. Maybe we took a chance once and it simply didn't work out. Maybe we never took the chance... and we wish we had. We all have the name of the One Who Got Away tattooed on our heart, always with us, never forgotten.

There is something hopelessly romantic about the idea of connecting with a long lost love. This luscious Cleis Press collection of second chance stories celebrates longing and loves that, whether by fate or by design, are at last requited and fulfilled.

Critique: A wonderfully entertaining compendium of deftly crafted short stories, "The One Who Got Away" is a thoroughly rewarding read. Indeed some of these are so well crafted that they will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The One Who Got Away" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Palmistry, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need
Sasha Fenton
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781571747518, $14.95, PB, 153pp,

Synopsis: Palmistry is the practice of foretelling the future through the study of the palm, also known as palm reading or chirology. The practice is found all over the world, with numerous cultural variations. Those who practice palmistry are generally called palmists, palm readers, hand readers, hand analysts, or chirologists.

"Palmistry, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need" by professional astrologer, palmist, and tarot card reader Sasha Fenton is a practical guide that demonstrates how easy it is to read hands for fun and insight. The basic premise here is that our hands provide a glimpse of our personalities, health, strengths, and weaknesses -- and even what may happen to us in the future. Each line, mound, and finger is a clue that can easily be deciphered if you have the right information.

"Palmistry, Plain & Simple" covers the basics of hand reading, including the lines, mounts, fingers, and thumb. "Palmistry, Plain & Simple" shows readers how to judge someone's character, health, love and relationship interests, moneymaking ability, and long-term destiny.

Critique: "Palmistry, Plain & Simple" is deftly organized into six chapters: The Map of the Hand; The Phalanges (bones between the fingers and joints); The Major Lines; The Minor Lines; Love and Relationships; How to Make Handprints. Informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary and content, "Palmistry, Plain & Simple" is very highly recommended and ideal beginners wanting to learn palmistry. An ideal addition to community library Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Palmistry, Plain & Simple" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.73).

Service Learning And Literary Studies In English
Laurie Grobman & Roberta Rosenberg, editors
Modern Language Association
26 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10004-1789
9781603292016, $40.00, HC, 284pp,

Synopsis: Service Learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a pragmatic, progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs.

Service learning can help students develop a sense of civic responsibility and commitment, often while addressing pressing community needs. One goal of literary studies is to understand the ethical dimensions of the world, and thus service learning, by broadening the environments students consider, is well suited to the literature classroom. Whether through a public literacy project that demonstrates the relevance of literary study or community-based research that brings literary theory to life, student collaboration with community partners brings social awareness to the study of literary texts and helps students and teachers engage literature in new ways.

In their introduction to "Service Learning And Literary Studies In English, the editors trace the history of service learning in the United States, including the debate about literature's role, and outline the best practices of the pedagogy. The seventeen essays that follow cover American, English, and world literature; creative nonfiction and memoir; literature-based writing; and cross-disciplinary studies. Contributors describe a wide variety of service-learning projects, including a course on the Harlem Renaissance in which students lead a community writing workshop, an English capstone seminar in which seniors design programs for public libraries, and a creative nonfiction course in which first-year students work with elderly community members to craft life narratives. "Service Learning And Literary Studies In English" closes with a list of resources for practitioners and researchers in the field.

Critique: An impressively informed and informative volume of seminal scholarship, "Service Learning And Literary Studies In English" is deftly organized into six major sections: Service Learning in American Literature; Service Learning in English and World Literature; Service Learning in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir; Service Learning in Literature-Based Writing; Service Learning in Cross-Disciplinary Studies; and Selected Resources. Enhanced with the inclusion of a six page listing of the contributors and their credentials, a twenty-four page bibliography of Works Cited, and a five page Index, "Service Learning And Literary Studies In English" is unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and university library collections. For the personal reading lists of academic, students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Service Learning And Literary Studies In English" is also available in a paperback edition (9781603292023, $25.00) and in a Kindle format ($23.75).

Make Room for What You Love
Melissa Michaels
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736963176, $15.99, PB, 215pp,

Synopsis: Melissa Michaels is the creator of The Inspired Room, voted the 2015 and 2014 Better Homes and Gardens Readers' Favorite Decorating Blog. Maintaining that 'your home is where life happens' in "Make Room for What You Love: Your Essential Guide to Organizing and Simplifying" Melissa well knows that how it feels to become overwhelmed by stuff. She advocates that in spite of the messes and clutter that accumulates in daily life and the inevitable life-changes that bring so much disorder in the house, a home should be a sanctuary. With insightful ideas and helpful encouragement, in "Make Room for What You Love" Melissa show how to: Clear out clutter to welcome in what best serves your family; More effortlessly decide what to keep and what to let go of; Develop habits that will simplify your home and your life; Discover the joy of daily routines and simple organizational systems; Create more space in your home and schedule for what matters most. "Make Room for What You Love" offers a practical plan to jumpstart progress in de-cluttering and organizing a home and proves plenty of practical tips to inspire you.

Critique: As thoroughly 'user friendly' as it is informative, thoughtful, and occasionally inspiring, "Make Room for What You Love" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. Very highly recommended it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Make Room for What You Love" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

Harry Farthing
Blackstone Publishing
31 Mistletoe Road, Ashland, OR 97520
9781504710213, $29.99, HC, 484pp,

Synopsis: After eight successful summits, Mount Everest guide Neil Quinn is confident he can handle anything the mountain throws his way. But then disaster strikes steps from the top, leaving him with a lot of questions and a very old swastika-embellished ice axe that should never have been so high on the mountain -- not if Everest's meticulously documented history is accurate. But before Quinn can even catch his breath, the combined wrath of his vengeful employer and an angry client drives him out of the Himalayas and back to Europe, where the newly blackballed English guide struggles to make ends meet and discover the truth of what happened that fateful day. He soon uncovers the story of Josef Becker, a Nazi climber who sought the top of the world seventy years before, when Europe teetered on the brink of the Second World War. Quinn's innocent queries into Becker's expedition soon have neo-Nazis, assassins, and history buffs vying to take possession of the axe -- proof of Nazi alpine superiority, and strong evidence that a German climber was the first to summit Mount Everest.

Critique: Especially impressive considering that "Summit" is author Harry Farthing's debut as a novelist, this is a complex, deftly crafted, consistently compelling suspense thriller of a read from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Summit" is available in a Kindle edition ($7.99). Librarians should note that "Summit" is also available in a complete and unabridged audio book CD format (Blackstone Audio, 9781504710190, $39.95).

Vertical Urban Factory
Nina Rappaport
Actar D
c/o Actar Publishers
355 Lexington Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781940291635, $64.95, HC, 480pp,

Synopsis: Nina Rappaport is an architectural critic, curator, historian, and educator. For over sixteen years she has been publications director at Yale School of Architecture, for which she edits the bi-annual magazine Constructs, exhibition catalogs, and the books series. She also directs Vertical Urban Factory, which includes a traveling exhibition (New York, Detroit, Toronto, London, and Lausanne) and a think tank analyzing manufacturing, factory design, and ecological industrial urbanism. In "Vertical Urban Factory" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to focus on the spaces of production in cities that both comprise factories that are significant in their design and contribute to a vital urban environment. "Vertical Urban Factory" reexamines the historic modernist and contemporary factories through the lens of an urbanist while provoking the future of urban manufacturing. It shows that now factories are cleaner and greener they can be reintegrated in city life creating a new paradigm for sustainable urban industry that is also more self-sufficient.

Critique: Profusely illustrated with historic and contemporary photographs, manufacturing process diagrams, and infographics by MGMT, "Vertical Urban Factory" is additionally enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, nine pages of Endnotes, and an eleven page Index. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Vertical Urban Factory" is an impressive work of seminal scholarship and an essential, core, and invaluable addition to professional, corporate, college, and university library Urban Studies collections and American Industrial Studies supplemental reading lists.

Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow
Steve Lehto
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613749531, $27.99, HC, 260pp,

Synopsis: After World War II, the American automobile industry was reeling. Having spent years building tanks and airplanes for the army, the car companies would need years more to retool their production to meet the demands of the American public, for whom they had not made any cars since 1942.

And then in stepped Preston Tucker, a extraordinary gifted salesman from Ypsilanti, Michigan, who had built race cars before the war, and had designed prototypes for the military during it. Now, gathering a group of brilliant automotive designers, engineers, and promoters, he announced the creation of a revolutionary new car: the Tucker '48, the first car in almost a decade to be built fresh from the ground up. Tucker's car would include ingenious advances in design and engineering that other car companies could not match. With a rear engine, rear-wheel drive, a safety-glass windshield that would pop out in case of an accident, a padded dashboard, independent suspension, and automatic transmission, it would be more attractive and aerodynamic (and safer) than any other car on the road.

But as the public eagerly awaited Tucker's car of tomorrow, powerful forces in Washington were trying to bring him down. An SEC commissioner with close ties to Detroit's Big Three automakers deliberately leaked information about an investigation the agency was conducting, suggesting that Tucker was bilking investors with a massive fraud scheme. Headlines accused him a perpetrating a hoax and claimed that his cars weren't real and his factory was a sham.

In fact, the Tucker '48 sedan was genuine, and everyone who saw it was impressed by what this upstart carmaker had achieved. But the SEC's investigation had compounded the company's financial problems and management conflicts, and a superior product was not enough to keep Tucker's dream afloat.

In "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow", automotive historian Steve Lehto aptly tells the story of Tucker's amazing rise and tragic fall, relying on a huge trove of documents that has been used by no other writer to date. It is the first comprehensive, authoritative account of Tucker's magnificent car and his battles with the government. And in "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow", Lehto finally answers the questions automobile aficionados have wondered about for decades: Exactly how and why was the production of such an innovative car killed?

Critique: Impressively researched, exceptionally well written, accessibly organized and deftly presented, "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" is the extraordinary telling of an extraordinary American story. Definitively informed and informative, "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Automotive History collections in general, and Preston Tucker supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" is also available in a Kindle format ($15.39).

Arts of Engagement
Dylan Robinson & Keavy martin, editors
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771121699, $39.99, PB, 376pp,

Synopsis: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Dylan Robinson (holder of the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen's University) and Keavy Martin (Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta), "Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action In and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada" focuses on the role that music, film, visual art, and Indigenous cultural practices play in and beyond Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools. Contributors here examine the impact of aesthetic and sensory experience in residential school history, at TRC national and community events, and in artwork and exhibitions not affiliated with the TRC. Using the framework of "aesthetic action," the essays expand the frame of aesthetics to include visual, aural, and kinetic sensory experience, and question the ways in which key components of reconciliation such as apology and witnessing have social and political effects for residential school survivors, inter-generational survivors, and settler populations.

"Arts of Engagement" makes an important contribution to the discourse on reconciliation in Canada by examining how aesthetic and sensory interventions offer alternative forms of political action and healing. These forms of aesthetic action encompass both sensory appeals to empathize and invitations to join together in alliance and new relationships as well as refusals to follow the normative scripts of reconciliation. Such refusals are important in their assertion of new terms for conciliation, terms that resist the imperatives of reconciliation as a form of resolution.

This collection of fourteen articles charts new ground by detailing the aesthetic grammars of reconciliation and conciliation. The collective contributors document the efficacies of the TRC for the various Indigenous and settler populations it has addressed, and consider the future aesthetic actions that must be taken in order to move beyond what many have identified as the TRC's political limitations.

Critique: A model of collective and seminal scholarship, "Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action In and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada" is enhanced with the inclusion of a twenty-one page Bibliography; a one page Discography; a six page listing of contributors and their credentials; a two page listing of Copyright Acknowledgments; and a twenty-five page Index. Informed and informative throughout, "Arts of Engagement" is unreservedly recommended for college and university Canadian History reference collections in general and Indigenous Natives supplemental studies reading lists.

He Won't Need It Now / The Dead Stay Dumb
James Hadley Chase
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781944520076, $19.95, PB, 290pp,

Synopsis: Rene Lodge Brabazon Raymond (24 December 1906 - 6 February 1985) was an English writer who wrote under a variety of pseudonyms that included James Hadley Chase, James L. Docherty, Raymond Marshall, R. Raymond, and Ambrose Grant. He was one of the best known thriller writers of all time. The canon of Rene Raymond's published works, comprising 90 titles, earned him a reputation as the king of thriller writers in Europe. He was also one of the internationally best-selling authors, and, so far, 50 of his books have been made into films. Now Stark House Press has brought to a whole new generation of appreciative readers to of his best stories under one cover.

In "He Won't Need It Now" Bill Duffy is a tough newsman but he finally pushes too hard and is canned. That's when he decides to take a photo job for a rich fat man named Morgan who wants Duffy to get some pictures of his ex-wife. Blackmail is involved, and Morgan wants the guy caught with the goods. But the set-up isn't what it seems, and someone sticks a gun in Duffy's back and makes off with the camera. Nor is the ex-wife who she appears to be. She's Annabel English, a slumming society dame. And pretty soon Duffy is helping her get rid of the body of the dead blackmailer. Now Duffy is being followed by Morgan's boys. It's a toss-up who plays it harder, Morgan's goons or red-headed Annabel, the most kill-crazy lady Duffy has ever met.

In "The Dead Stay Dumb", a man named Dillon is as ruthless as they come, brutal and tough. When he wants something, he takes it -- with a gun or with his fists, it doesn't matter to Dillon. When he first blows into town, he hooks up with Nick and his girl, Myra. First they try to fix a fight, then Myra joins them as driver for a few heists. But Dillon isn't satisfied with the penny-ante jobs. He's got bigger plans. So he joins up with a local mob boss. Pretty soon, Nick realizes he's out of his depth, but by then it's too late. Now Dillon's got Myra, and Myra's got a taste of the high life. If only that were enough. Because Dillon's got a tiger by its tail, and its name is Myra. And all Myra's got to do to survive is stay out of the way of those iron fists.

Critique: A master of the mystery/suspense genre, James Hadley Chase is able to fully rivet his reader's attention to a deftly crafted story quite literally from first page to last. "He Won't Need It Now / The Dead Stay Dumb" is unreservedly recommended to mystery fans and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Pistols and Petticoats
Erika Janik
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807039380, $25.95, HC, 238pp,

Synopsis: In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn't the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement's most visible voice.

Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic -- traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.

Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect's Jane Tennison and Law and Order's Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.

"Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction" by Erika Janik (an award-winning writer, historian, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio) tells the story of women's very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.

Critique: A truly exceptional, inherently fascinating, consistently compelling, informed and informative read, "Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction" is an impressive and unique work of deftly written history combined with a thoughtful and thought-provoking literary study. While enthusiastically recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Pistols and Petticoats" is also available in a paperback edition (9780807047880, $18.00) and in a Kindle format ($24.99).

Zecharia Sitchin and the Extraterrestrial Origins of Humanity
M. J. Evans
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591432555, $18.00, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: M. J. Evans is Professor Emeritus at SUNY Empire State College, as well as a friend and colleague of Zecharia Sitchin for nearly 20 years. Professor Evans accompanied Sitchin on several tours to ancient sites in the Mediterranean region. In "Zecharia Sitchin and the Extraterrestrial Origins of Humanity" Professor Evans has written an in-depth analysis of Sitchin's revelations about the Anunnaki, early humanity, and Earth's future. Of particular interest is Professor Evan's examination of Sitchin's research into the Anunnaki arrival on Earth, the lineage of the Nefilim, their space travel technology, and their creation of modern humans. Of special note is the exploration of the lust and lovemaking relationships of the Nefilim and the suggestion that we humans have inherited our warlike and love making tendencies from them

Known for his provocative interpretations of ancient Sumerian and Akkadian clay tablets, Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010) read the words of our most ancient ancestors as fact and, through decades of meticulous research, showed that these ancient tablets revealed a coherent narrative about the extraterrestrial inhabitants of Earth and the origins of modern humanity.

Concluding with an examination of Sitchin's prediction of a nuclear event on Earth in 2024 AD, Professor Evans shows how we would be repeating the aggressive warlike behaviors of our Anunnaki creators, who may very well become our saviors when Nibiru next returns to our solar system.

Critique: A seminal study and deftly constructed study that will prove to be of exceptional and enduring interest to dedicated Metaphysical Studies students in general, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Zecharia Sitchin's work on the legacy of the Anunnaki in particular. While very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Zecharia Sitchin and the Extraterrestrial Origins of Humanity" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Perfect in Memory
Rick D. Niece
Five Star Publications Inc.
PO Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589852389, $15.95, PB, 220pp,

Synopsis: "Perfect in Memory: A Son's Tribute to His Mother" is the third and final volume in Rick D. Niece's award-winning 'Fanfare for a Hometown' series. Shared from the perspective of an adult son looking back with loving nostalgia on how his spirited, nurturing mother shaped his life, Niece's heartfelt stories are celebrations of family and the timeless endurance of a mother's love. As Dodie Niece's life comes to a bittersweet end, Niece and his family gather at her bedside and share tender memories of their experiences in idyllic DeGraff, Ohio. Written as a tribute to a remarkable woman, "Perfect in Memory" focuses with tender reflection on the richness of simple gestures that make life so beautiful.

Critique: Although it completes a truly impressive trilogy, "Perfect in Memory: A Son's Tribute to His Mother" is a thoroughly enjoyable and independent reading experience even if the reader is unfamiliar with the first two volumes ("Side-Yard Superhero" and "The Band Plays On"). Exceptionally well written, inherently fascinating, and consistently compelling, "Perfect in Memory" is unreservedly recommended for community library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Perfect in Memory" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Black Names Matter: The Black Names Book
Bobby Cenoura, author
Robert Fuhrman, editor
Stephen Widener, consultant editor
Slice of Pain Publishing and Media, LLC
9780692570623, $19.99 PB, 396pp,

Synopsis: "Antwaneisha", "Brionshay" and "Tayvion" -- for some, pronouncing these names are a daunting task, and for others, it's a symbol of cultural identity. "Black Names Matter: The Black Names Book" defines names commonly referred to as "Ghetto", "Ratchet" and "Hood", in American society by dissecting them. The lesson that "Black Names Matter" teaches is that the majority of "Black Names" aren't African, but are unique names that come from combinations of two or more names, names constructed with common prefixes and suffixes, and much more. In many cases, names are "conjugated" with a formula that can be applied to names such as "DaNiqua", "LaNisha", and "Tayshaun". "Black Names Matter" also contains research on the impact Black names can have on getting a job interview. In addition, the book has a glossary of "common" American names from which Black names are derived. "Black Names Matter: The Black Names Book" is the first installment in what may be an ongoing investigation into unique naming conventions used by different ethnic groups in America.

Critique: Unique and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Black Names Matter: The Black Names Book" is an informative and inherently fascinating read. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Black Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Black Names Matter: The Black Names Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

An Act of Murder
Mary Angela
Camel Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603813754, $14.95, PB, 229pp,

Synopsis: In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play. Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em's house, Lenny advises caution -- and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they're on the brink of an important breakthrough.

Critique: "An Act of Murder" is the first volume in a new mystery series that features amateur sleuth Professor Emmeline Prather. A deftly crafted novel of unexpected twists and surprising turns, "An Act of Murder" clearly establishes author Mary Angela as an impressively skilled and original storyteller. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, "An Act of Murder" will leave dedicated mystery buffs looking eagerly toward the next Professor Emmeline Prather adventure!

Margaret Lane

Marlan's Bookshelf

Dazzled (Nikki Easton Mystery Series, Book 1)
Maxine Nunes
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432827304, $25.95 HC, $10.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 256pp,

Genre: Mystery

"I wondered how anyone ever felt at home here, where there was nothing you could trust to hold on to, not even the ground beneath your feet." - Dazzled

Synopsis: Feisty one-liner actress Nikki Easton finds herself embroiled in a quest to either find out who murdered her best friend - the "dazzling" aspiring actress Darla - or verify that the unrecognizable corpse buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is really someone else. Along the way, Nikki finds herself smitten with a sexy cop, looks for clues at a Playboy-type mansion, and tangles with unsavory Underworld characters whose antics and shocking connections are nearly indistinguishable from the rest of Hollywood's movers who slither through this book. Sex, drugs and lost souls who are torn between the need to be "somebody" and the desire to flee L.A. keep this mystery ticking like the proverbial time bomb.

Critique: Maxine Nunes' "Dazzled" is a tale told with such precision for atmospheric details, lifestyle annoyances and pitch perfect dialogue, it should come with a cautionary disclaimer for Los Angelenos:

"Warning: May induce the sensation that you are still inside the plot every time you look up from the book."

True to its genre, the story takes readers where others have gone before, but Nunes puts a fresh spin on the familiar elements through inspired turns of phrases ("...a man who evidently thought a strip of chest hair would do for a necktie") and quirky 21st Century updates (gifted with a bouquet, the only "vase" Nikki can find is an empty Slurpee cup).

Nunes also has a gift for depicting layered characters. To this end, she makes excellent use of an acting class that demands "honest emotions" of its students. In the hands of a lesser writer, these scenes could come off as satire or excessively dramatic; but here they skillfully alternate between humor and pathos while giving readers the necessary insights.

"The stronger the personality the more it hid." - Dazzled

"Dazzled" lovingly and painstakingly explores the paradoxical contradictions of Los Angeles and its hapless inhabitants. The smell of night jasmine juxtaposes with the stench of the actress with a "show biz" sensuality hides her true self in plain sight...and all the sleights of hand resonate in the book's first line:

What's real?

At its core, the mystery explores love in its various forms and disguises. Twists, turns and double-crosses abound. Enough to keep the pages turning, but not so complicated or overloaded with characters that it ever feels unwieldy.

All in all, a fun read - unless you are living in L.A., in which case you might have fun while also thinking about leaving town; or if you are the optimistic type, you might find yourself looking forward to a sequel.

The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People [Making the Best of Mental Illness]
Shelly Glaser with Sherry Glaser
Mother's Milk Publications
9780692764602, $TBA, Paperback, 90 pages
B01JTMPELO, $4.99, Kindle E-Book, File Size: 308 KB,

Genre: Self-Help/Recovery/Mental Illness

"The Mother-Daughter Continuum" Continuum: noun (kÉn-tin'yoo- Ém): A continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct, e.g., at the fast end of the fast-slow continuum. - "The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People"

In the self-help tradition of Louise Hay's New Thought/Heal Your Life books, comes "The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People [Making the Best of Mental Illness]." It not only features tips from mental patient, Shelly Glaser, but the twist is that this handbook was not only posthumously published, but co-written with her daughter - award-winning performance artist and author, Sherry Glaser - AFTER Shelly died.

Years after her mother's death (hastened by the side effects of anti-psychotic medications), Sherry Glaser came across the manuscript in rough draft (with this title) and felt inspired to finish it, adding her own story - which included deep fear of inheriting mental illness - and delineating the tools she uses to transcend that dread and keep herself sane.

True to its title, this book offers practical step-by-step tools made so simple that anyone could try them and not feel overwhelmed by the prospect. They include meditation, the mind-body connection and the "exotic" (for the more adventurous).

Each Glaser has walked through her own mental hell. Each tells her hair-raising story (in the elder Glaser's case, literally, as she endured numerous electroshock treatments) with eloquence and wry humor.

The book opens with Mama Glaser's life story. Along the way, she stops to explain what worked for her, what didn't work for her, and encourages all seekers to make their own decisions as they explore options for recovery. How do you choose a therapist? Should you get electroshock treatments? Shelly lays out the choices without pushing. She does not try to sell herself as an expert on anything but her own experiences. Her direct honesty and plain talk give an insider look into how mental illness can be bravely borne with a strong will to heal whatever can be healed. Shelly Glaser could be your mother, your sister, your daughter...your peer. And her resilience inspires.

Then "The Mother-Daughter Continuum" swings into focus as Sherry tells her side, creating a link between their "herstories" that resonates beyond the grave.

It's no surprise that Sherry Glaser puts "Creativity" at the top of her list of mental health lifesavers. She came to New York fame with her one-woman show, Family Secrets, which still holds the title of the Longest-Running One-Woman Show in Off-Broadway History. In 2015, her "Oh My Goddess!: A Comedy of Biblical Proportions" won the Best Avant-Garde award at New York's United Solo Festival.

In the section entitled "Sherry: The Sequel," she recounts her rollercoaster life without a trace of self-pity or morbid self-reflection. Sherry reveals herself to be a dedicated activist against war and for cannabis legalization, who was devastated by the sudden disappearance of her husband, which remains an unsolved mystery to this day. Add to that lesbian marriage/divorce and arrest by a SWAT team, and it seems a wonder she is not in a straitjacket.

And speaking of straitjackets...

The cover features a black man smiling a straitjacket. How did this cover come to grace the Mother-Daughter Continuum's first handbook? Sherry explains before she even gets to page 1. Hint: Her mother was behind it.

No alternative tool is left unturned. Mother and daughter offer two different viewpoints on the topic of electroshock therapy vs. medical cannabis. Actually, one left something out of her story in this regard, and the other one put it back in. Hint: Sherry Glaser is a founding member of the Love In It Co-op, a medical marijuana dispensary in Mendocino, California.

With its Companion Questionnaire that is obviously designed to be used in a Clinical Psychology classroom as a workbook (but may be user-friendly in a more casual setting), "The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People" would be a useful, calming addition to anyone's mental health library.

And for those of us whose parents struggled with the horrors of mental illness, this book does its best to empower us by removing the stigma of "crazy," and replacing it with the hope that we can move through healing and serenity, no matter whose genes we inherited.

Marlan Warren, Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

A History of the Modern Middle East
William L. Cleveland & Martin Bunton
Westview Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780813349800, $55.00, PB, 602pp,

Synopsis: Now in a significantly revised and updated sixth edition, "A History of the Modern Middle East" by the late William L. Cleveland (Professor of History at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia) and Martin Bunton (Professor of History at the University of Victoria, British Columbia), examines the profound and often dramatic transformations of the region in the past two centuries, from the Ottoman and Egyptian reforms, through the challenge of Western imperialism, to the impact of US foreign policies. Built around a framework of political history, while also carefully integrating social, cultural, and economic developments, this new edition of "A History of the Modern Middle East" is an expertly crafted account that provides readers with the most comprehensive, balanced and penetrating analysis of the modern Middle East. This new sixth edition has been revised to provide a thorough account of the major developments since 2012, including the tumultuous aftermath of the Arab uprisings, the sectarian conflict in Iraq and civil war in Syria that led to the rise of ISIS, the crises in Libya and Yemen, and the United States' nuclear talks with Iran.

Critique: A complete course of instruction under one cover, "A History of the Modern Middle East" is an ideal and highly recommended textbook for college and university Middle East Studies courses. Enhanced with new time lines in each part, updated select bibliographies, and expanded online instructor resources, "A History of the Modern Middle East" remains the quintessential text and is a "must" for both community and academic library Middle East Studies collections. It should be noted for students and non-specialist readers with an interest in the subject that "A History of the Modern Middle East" is also available in a Kindle edition ($35.99).

You Will Wear a White Shirt
Senator Nick Sibbeston
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781771620550, $32.95, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: Growing up in a remote Northern community, Nick Sibbeston had little reason to believe he would one day fulfill his mother's ambition of holding a career where he would "wear a white shirt". Torn away from his family and placed in residential school at the age of five, Sibbeston endured loneliness, callous treatment and sexual assault by an older boy, but discovered a love of learning that would compel him to complete a law degree and pursue a career in politics.

As a young, firebrand politician, Sibbeston played an instrumental role during a critical moment in Canadian Northwest Territories politics, advocating tirelessly to support the economic and political development of First Nations people in the North, and participating in early discussions of the separation of Nunavut. Sibbeston's career advanced in great strides, first as an MLA, then one of Canada's first Aboriginal lawyers, then as a cabinet minister and eventually premier of the Northwest Territories. Finally, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada, where he continues to represent the people of Canada's North, not least in advocating for the generations affected by residential school policies.

Although his years at residential school compelled Sibbeston to fight tirelessly for the rights of Aboriginal northerners, they also left a mark on his mental health, fuelling continual battles with anxiety, depression and addiction. It was only in later life that healing began to take place, as he battled his demons openly, supported not just by the medical community but also by his strong faith and the love of his wife and family.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "You Will Wear a White Shirt: From the Northern Bush to the Halls of Power" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end. Especially recommended for college and university library Canadian Biography, Canadian Political History, and North American Aboriginal Issues reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for academicians, students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and career of Nick Sibbeston that "You Will Wear a White Shirt" is also available in a Kindle format ($22.87).

The Last of All Possible Worlds / The Temptation to Do Good
Peter F. Drucker
Paul Dry Books
1700 Sansom Street, Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19103-5214
9781589881082, $20.00, PB, 348pp,

Synopsis: In "The Last of All Possible Worlds", royalty, bankers, lovers, and wives intertwine to create a vivid portrait of Europe in the early 1900s. We meet wise and worldly Prince Sobieski, Vienna's ambassador in London, his enchanting wife, her English lover, and her enigmatic lifelong companion, Josefa. When Sobieski's illegitimate daughter makes a demand of her influential father, the unspoken rules of the family are challenged. Sobieski's world is further upset when two powerful merchant bankers, the tragic McGregor Hinton and the ambitious Julius von Mosenthal, arrive in London -- both with their own requirements of the prince.

"The Temptation to Do Good" tells the story of Father Heinz Zimmerman, the well-regarded president of an American Catholic university. When he attempts to help a chemistry teacher who has been denied tenure he accidentally opens the door to the underlying tensions in the university.

Critique: The late Peter Ferdinand Drucker (November 19, 1909 - November 11, 2005) was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation. What is less well known is that he was also a rather gifted novelist. Now Paul Dry Books has published two of Drucker's novels under one cover, making them available to a whole new generation of appreciative readers. This edition of "The Last of All Possible Worlds / The Temptation to Do Good" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Last of All Possible Worlds / The Temptation to Do Good" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Strategic Communication
Anthony Dudo & LeeAnn Kahlor, editors
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138184794, $49.95, PB, 191pp,

Synopsis: Strategic communication can mean either communicating a concept, a process, or data that satisfies a long term strategic goal of an organization by allowing facilitation of advanced planning, or communicating over long distances usually using international telecommunications or dedicated global network assets to coordinate actions and activities of operationally significant commercial, non-commercial and military business or combat and logistic subunits.

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of University of Texas academicians Anthony Dudo and LeeAnn Kahlor, the focus of "Strategic Communication: New Agendas in Communication" is the subject of strategic communication defined as strategic if its development and/or dissemination is driven by an expected outcome. These outcomes can be attitudinal, behavioral, persuasive or knowledge-related; they can lead to change or engagement, or they can miss their mark entirely. In looking at strategic communication, one is not limited to a specific context or discipline. Many of the scholars in contributing to "Strategic Communication" are generating research that covers strategic communication in ways that are meaningful across fields.

"Strategic Communication" presents the work and idea of scholars who cover the spectrum of strategic communication from source to message to audience to channel to effects. "Strategic Communication" also offers news perspectives across contexts and is rooted firmly in the rich research traditions of persuasion and media effects.

Critique: An impressive anthology of cutting edge, research based, seminal scholarship, "Strategic Communication: New Agendas in Communication" is comprised of nine erudite and informative articles impressively organized and presented. Simply stated, "Strategic Communication" is a critically important contribution to the field and should be considered a core addition to corporate, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Strategic Communication" is also available in a Kindle edition ($40.68).

America's Covenant
Ronald Stokes
World Ahead Press
c/o WND Books
2020 Pennsylvania Ave NW, #351, Washington, DC 20006
9781944212162, $18.99, PB, 292pp,

Synopsis: On the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, an event occurred of which few are aware: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died just a few hours apart on the same 4th of July day. It was the nation's Jubilee. These simultaneous deaths warned of God's impending judgment, which goes unheeded and ignored to this day. The original thirteen colonies pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to form a government protecting everyone's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America violated its pledge by failing to comply with the jubilee requirement in Scripture to free the slaves. Divine judgment inevitably followed in the form of Civil War. America is once again violating its covenant with God through abortion. While citizens agonize over failed economic and military policies, they ignore the continued violation.

Critique: Part history, part analysis, part prescription for addressing our contemporary problems with an adherence to founding principles, "America's Covenant" by Ronald Stokes is an informative and compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking read that will prove to be of immense interest to both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the story of American democracy. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American History and Political Science collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "America's Covenant" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

God and Money
John Cortines & Gregory Baumer
Rose Publishing
17909 Adria Maru Lane, Carson, CA 90746
9781628624076, $24.99, HC, 251pp,

Synopsis: In "God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School", two young Harvard MBAs on the fast track to wealth and success, John Cortines and Gregory Baumer, tell their personal story of God's transforming power and how Scripture brought them to the startling conclusion that they should give the majority of their money away to those in need. Packed with compelling case studies, research, and practical strategies, "God and Money" offers an honest look at what the Bible says about generous giving. No matter what your salary may be, "God and Money" shows you how you can reap the rewards of radical generosity in your own life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, as well as the personal reading lists of every member of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted that "God and Money" is also available in a paperback edition (9781628624731, $14.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

In Search of the Irish Dreamtime
J. P. Mallory
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500051849, $29.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Following his account of Irish origins drawing on archaeology, genetics, and linguistics in "The Origins of the Irish and In Search of the Indo-Europeans", with "In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology and Early Irish Literature", J. P. Mallory (an Irish-American archaeologist who is a world expert on ancient linguistics, as well as Emeritus Professor at Queen's University Belfast) returns to the subject to investigate what he calls the Irish Dreamtime -- the native Irish retelling of their own origins, as related by medieval manuscripts. Professor Mallory deftly explores the historical backbone of this version of the earliest history of Ireland, which places apparently mythological events on a concrete time line of invasions, colonization, and royal reigns that extends even further back in time than the history of classical Greece. The juxtaposition of traditional Dreamtime tales and scientific facts expands on what we already know about the way of life in Iron Age Ireland. By comparing the world depicted in the earliest Irish literary tradition with the archaeological evidence available on the ground, Mallory explores Ireland's rich mythological tradition and tests its claims to represent reality.

Critique: A model of seminal scholarship and enhanced with the inclusion of twelve color photographs, fifteen pages of Notes, a nine page Bibliography, a one page listing of Sources of Illustrations, and a five page Index, "In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology and Early Irish Literature" is a critically important and essential addition to college and university library Irish History & Culture collections. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "In Search of the Irish Dreamtime" in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Civil War: The South
Mort Kunstler
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781558534780, $TBA, Hardcover, 192 pages,

Mort Kunstler's - Civil War The South is a work comprising 192 pages including a Table of Contents, Introduction, original sketches, perhaps a photograph of the site or building today and the paintings, with commentary pertaining to the history of the battle, site or other reference depicted; as well as the painters personal feelings about what he was wanting to convey in the work, set against a portion of the painting as well as a two page spread of the painting itself.

Beginning on page 10 with the first battle of Manassas, 21 July 1861 Kunstler sets the scene, based upon his understanding of the history as well as his making a physical visit to the battle site in order to 'accurately recreate the story of what happened.' The pine woods down slope from Henry House where Gen'l Jackson and his men formed their line do indeed make a perfect back drop for the painting illustrating the moment when Bernard Bee, one of the brigade commanders rallied his men with the words which were to follow Jackson until his death and into the future where even today many people refer to the general as Stonewall. I too have visited the Manassas Battlefield where two battles were fought along the banks of Bull Run and am always stirred with the sight of Jackson dressed in his blue VMI uniform, sitting astride Little Sorrel, ignoring the chaos of battle as he is prepared to lead his troops into the fray.

I like the manner used by this artist historian, wherein he explains a bit about the battle, or setting and what he hoped to convey, his research and how he came to use the backdrop shown in the finished piece.

Other paintings include Southern Stars; Kernstown, Virginia.

Winter 1862, beginning on page 16 in which the artist presents a scene likely played out across the south in which groups of southerners stood watching passing soldiers on the march to a battle site. While the lovely old church depicted is not the one standing in 1862; the original was badly damaged during the battle of Kernstown, and in 1873 it was lost to fire.

Until We Meet Again Jackson's Headquarters, Winchester, Va, Winter 1862 commences commentary on page 24. There was no battle at the headquarters, however the artist chose to portray the farewell of the husband to his wife as Gen'l Jackson and Mary Anna who had come to Winchester to spend the winter in proximity to her husband. She was a common sight at the headquarters where she often brought her husband's supper in a basket. In the painting the basket is shown set on the snow just behind Mary Anna.

Page 32 features Confederate Winter, Gen'l Taylor At Swift Run Gap, Va; March 1862. Gen'l Taylor's 'likeness is based on a contemporary photograph.'

May 25, 1862, page 40, features Gen Stonewall Jackson Enters Winchester, Va. Winchester was the site of several battles and changed hands back and forth throughout much of the war. While Jackson himself did not use Stonewall as a reference for himself, he preferred that his troops be considered as the stonewall, the painting depicts a victorious Jackson and his men coming into town at 10 o'clock in the morning.

August 1862, pages 48 - 54 the Second Manassas Campaign I Will Be Moving Within the Hour illustrates a campsite headquarters meeting between Gen'ls Lee and Jackson.

Page 56, August 29, 1862; The Commanders of Manassas Gens Lee, Longstreet, and Jackson.

Night Crossing Lee and Jackson; September 18, 1862 is, the artist relates, 'one of the most challenging paintings I have done in years.' Portrayed is the final moments of Lee's northern invasion undertaken with the hope that European recognition of the Confederacy would be augmented. Artist Kunstler reveals the challenges of painting came as he painted the river at night with torch light reflecting in the water. p 63 -71

Page 72, Lee at Fredricksburg Princess Anne Street, 9:10 AM, November 20, 1862 with three steeples as the setting for Gen'ls Lee astride Traveller and Longstreet and their entourages just prior to the Dec 11 bombardment by Union forces;

Page 80 - 87 "...War Is So Terrible" Longstreet and Lee, December 13, 1862 the Confederate victory at Fredricksburg was the site of Lee's famous, "It is well that war is so terrible - we should grow to fond of it;

Page 88 - 95 The Review at Moss Neck Fredricksburg, VA, January 20, 1863, the writer relates his elation that his is the first painting of the cavalry review follow Fredricksburg battle. A brief mention of the event in Henry Kyd Douglas' biography of Gen'l Jackson led the artist to research the event and then paint it. Gen'l Jackson and Gen'l Lee are portrayed as Lee reviewed the command of his son Gen'l William Henry Fitzhugh 'Rooney' Lee. On the left the troopers are lined up, the inspection party including Rooney Lee behind and left of his father and Jackson while Gen'l Jeb Stuart is to the right and slightly behind Gen'l Lee. Gen'l Longstreet carries the National Flag of the Confederacy and is positioned directly behind Gen'l Stuart.

Wayside Farewell, p 96 - 105 the scene of a Confederate Cavalry officer and his wife exchanging goodbyes was played out many times during the war years as men prepared for carrying out their duty and worried, hopeful loved ones stayed behind. Setting is Valley Pike in front of Larricks hotel in Middletown Va;

Winter Riders Raleigh, N.C. Feb 5, 1863, p 106 - 113 featuring Confederate troops and civilians representing, the artist says, North Carolina's major contribution to The War: its people;

Confederate Sunset Middletown VA, February 1863, p 114 - 121 following the battle at Fredricksburg Lee set about to fortify his position and consult with his lieutenants Gen'ls Jackson and Longstreet, it was the last time the three commanders would be together, before the Battle of Gettysburg Gen'l Jackson would lose his life and Gen'l Lee one of his most trusted allies;

Model Partnership Winter of 1863 Lee and Jackson brought out the best in themselves and each other, the painting, the last of the Legends in Grey series features these two worthies during the late afternoon, p 122 -129;

The Last Council, Jackson, Lee, and Stuart at Chancellorsville; the artist tells us that this was one of his first paintings of the pair. The battle at Chancellorsville proved to be Gen'l Lee's greatest triumphs and his greatest loss. Not long after the last council meeting Gen'l Jackson would be shot accidentally his own men, Jackson would die on May 10, 1863. May 1, 1863 p 130 - 135

The Grand Review Brandy Station, Va, June 5,1865, the artists says that after his research regarding the battle indicated that the event had not been painted. He set out to create a work capturing the lively, flamboyant Jeb Stuart. p 136 - 143;

The Loneliness of Command Gen'l Robert E Lee; the artist says he wanted to portray the dignity in addition to the burden of command. The painting shows Gen'l sitting alone, in front of his tent, at the edge of the battlefield. p 144 - 151; The High Water Mark, Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, the artist says it was 1988 when he set out to do a painting that would need no explanation; it would be instantly recognized as Gettysburg. Research, visiting the battlefield, talking with historians persuaded artist Kunstler that 'the view ' looking south at Cemetery Ridge just north of the Angle' would serve his purpose for producing such a painting. p 152 - 159;

"It's All My Fault", Gen'l Robert E Lee at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863 as Gen'l Lee contemplates the defeat at Gettysburg. The idea for this painting, the artist notes, 'was conceived as a natural sequel to the first painting I did for the American Print Gallery, titled The High Water Mark; p 152 - 167

Confederate Christmas shows a snowy night with troops marching, through the woods, a conifer is laid atop a cannon barrel. Inspiration for the painting, the artist reveals is an 1860s etching. p 168 -175;

Thunder in the Valley Battle of New Market, VA, May 15, 1864 artist Kunstler reveals he wanted to incorporate three important elements: The battle was fought in a huge thunderstorm, 200+ predominately teenaged, VMI cadets played a key role, and former US vice president Gen'l John C Breckenridge commanded the Confederate troops. The resulting painting features the Bushong home which is still standing, Gen'l Breckenridge in proximity to the cadets, on the right is an active cannon, the whole are shown in the midst of a torrential rain, p 176 - 183;

"We Still Love You, General Lee" Appomattox, VA, April 9, 1865. Gen'l Lee CSA portrayed with his usual dignity is returning from his meeting with Gen'l Grant USA in the little town of Appommatox Court House. Lee had negotiated generous surrender terms for the Army of Virginia. As Lee, shown astride Traveller, bade his men goodbye, and returned to his tent "We Still Love You, General Lee" rang from the men. p 184 - 191

Mort Kunstler's - Civil War The South is a, handsized, small volume comprising 192 pages filled with 'a gallery tour of some of artist Kunstler's favorite Confederate subjects' per the inside flap of the protective paper cover safeguarding my particular tome.

The book itself is well made, I have had my copy for a number of years, and it has been read many times: Cover is sturdy, pages are a good grade paper.

Of the twenty-three paintings placed on these pages, eight have not been published in a book before. Of his works Kunstler says, 'all of the paintings are done with a reverence for detail, authenticity, and most of all, the people of this most American of all wars.

As a student of history, in particular the bleak period of the 1860s, I have always enjoyed reading of various battles, have visited most of the sites artist Kunstler offers in this work, and truly enjoy the book. It is a work to read, and reread.

I like the format, a bit of explanation regarding the battle or situation, how the artist came to produce the painting as he did, sketches and small portions of the finished work, and the two page spread of the whole painting. The small size is a handy one to carry in a back pack or purse to take out and read during moments while waiting for the train to pass, or sitting in the VA waiting room as a spouse talks with his doctor.

Mort Kunstler's - Civil War The South is one many books in our home library. I find much to enjoy and like about the book and am happy to recommend for other history enthusiasts, casual readers, and reenactors. No, this small volume is not going to present every nuance regarding any battle, however it is enough to nudge the casual history buff, and can serve as a catalyst for more study. The paintings are marvelous, preliminary sketches are interesting, and artist revelations regarding how and why he created the painting he did adds much to reader enjoyment.

Size makes the book nice as a small gift tuck in.

Muddy Paws
Moira Butterfield, author
Simon Mendez, illustrator
Parragon Books
440 Park Avenue South 13th FL, New York, NY 10016
9781407518404, $9.99 HC, $4.99 Board Book, $3.99 Kindle,

Moira Butterfield's Muddy Paws has often been an Osage County First Grade choice for DEAR and free time reading.

It is a special day for Ben and his new Puppy. Ben has plans to teach his puppy all the things that a puppy needs to know.

First though, the puppy needs a name. Maybe the name will be cuddles because Ben gets lots of cuddles from his new puppy.

Ben and his puppy look in a storybook for name suggestions; soon the puppy gets tired of the book and begins to explore, Ben's bedroom. Oops, he didn't mean to knock the flowerpot over, but that is just what he did. And, he made muddy little footprints all over the place.

Away the pair go to the park, where the puppy jumps in the mud and makes muddy footprints all over the place.

The story continues as the puppy falls into the neighbor's goldfish pond, digs in the back yard, and of course makes muddy footprints all over the place.

Illustrations by Simon Mendez are perfect for the text produced by Moira Butterfield. When I noticed the cover of a large, 11.3 x 9.8 x 0.6 inch work featuring a cover by Simon Mendez sitting on the shelf in the work room at school my interest was piqued immediately. A bright eyed puppy stares at the reader, his buddy little paws are evident. This is going to be one fun book.

And, it is. I like the format featuring double page spreads with well crafted graphics, muted colors showing the puppy and his Little Boy as they spend their day trying to decide the perfect name.

Anyone who has had contact with a puppy, a little boy or a combination thereof can identify immediately with this tale. Vocabulary used for producing the story is a little more advanced than beginning Emergent Readers. It is within the grasp of most Primary readers.

Osage County First Grade often chooses Muddy Paws for our on the rug teacher read to class time, for DEAR and for free time reading.

I too like Muddy Paws, the work is a gentle, quiet down read for after lunch recess as Osage County First Grade settles to begin afternoon work, it provides opportunity for good class discussion as Little Learners talk about the puppy, their own pets, the dilemma for trying to decide upon a name, how they themselves may have faced a similar situation, and the result.

As the school year has progressed Emergent Readers are now reading the book with little or no help, and Muddy Paws has now been read by more than one Little Reader as their selection for star punches in order to receive our State Education Superintendent's Reading Certificate.

Trying to find books to interest both little boys and little girls is not always easy. Because little girls often begin to read more fluently at a faster rate than do little boys, boys in the classroom often begin to feel less sure of themselves as they continue to struggle with those mysterious marks the teacher insists form hunks and chunks and even whole words. Books featuring girls and - girl stuff- may be pretty to view, however, for little boys they go all but ignored in the classroom. This book featuring a dog and a boy, even if he is a little younger than the boys in the classroom is a popular choice for boys and girls in Osage County First Grade.

Happy to recommend Muddy Paws for the target audience of Emergent Readers, for the home, classroom and school library shelf as well as for the public library collection.

Note: I see Muddy Paws listed on a variety of online sites, my own purchase was made from a vendor who comes to our school several times over the course of the school year.

She sets out a group of classroom, and personal reading items, as well as gadgets, gizmos and whatsits for our staff to consider. It is a nice service especially for those who live in the small town where there are little to no business or industry and certainly no book stores.

The Ghosts of Malhado
HJ Rales
9781929976805, $11.95, Hard cover, 224 pages,

H J Ralles' The Ghosts of Malhado begins as Alex scours the sands for a sand dollars to add to his collection. He is a tad baffled as he hears a mournful whisper, "Malhado".

The sun was sinking over Christmas Bay, the sky filled with the beauty of sunset, and Alex knew he was alone on the beach. So, who was uttering that mournful cry?

Setting aside his curiosity Alex knew he had better head back to the beach house where his family was enjoying their vacation, Mom had allowed him to stay on the beach a little longer as she left to ready dinner, but, she sure didn't mean he could stay so long. Alex raced town the lights showing from windows in the houses in Treasure Island.

As he neared the little bridge protecting the dunes Alex was astonished to see a bright flash of red light and then blue. The sand dollar fell from his hand.

Alex apprehensively stared at the face of a man in strange dress standing on the bridge, the odd metal hat he wore above his face, wait no face, sunken eyes, a hole for a nose, his teeth bore a blue tinge... the light from Jolly Roger Road behind him seemed to pass right through the stranger's body.

Thus begins Alex' summer adventure in which he falls and is not allowed to go back to beach until his mother is sure he is okay; he becomes aware of local lore concerning the area he has been visiting each summer; begins to doubt what is real and what is not following that fall in which he bumps his head; sees, more than once what he believes to be a ghost; relies on neighbor friend Juliann to help him uncover the mystery; has several close calls, in part in trying to not let his mom learn that he has ventured out on the sand when he is supposed to be convalescing, visits the local library and learns some of the history of the area, meets a local real estate vendor who knows much of the story of the, and at last begins to realize that what we know for certain may or not be as it really is.

The 'adventure' portion of the book culminates on page 161, and is followed with a pictorial introduction to the setting of the mystery. Color photos of Treasure Island San Luis Pass, the bridge-board walk over the dune, and various of the sites and buildings mentioned in the adventure provide good clarity for the reader.

Part 2 includes a short biography with addition of color illustration showing Cabeza de Vaca himself begins on page 166 and culminates on page 174. Page 175 begins a short narrative regarding the next 300 years following the anecdote regarding de Vaca, again photographs are added including a plat of the city of San Luis, photos of personages who play a part in the story itself, and enough narrative to whet the appetite of those who enjoy history.

Pages 189 and 190 offer a 'San Luis Island Timeline.' Part 3 asks the question, "Where was San Luis Island, Texas, offers an outline map of Texas, a depiction of the 1853 survey done of the area, and a map showing the area as it appears today.

Pages 196 -202 consider 'The Malhado Debate', a poem pinned in 2010 by David Devancy who has spent many years traveling the pirates' route from Galveston, to Treasure Island and beyond.

Author Ralles offers sources including books, maps, plats and photos, articles and websites she used before she began writing this tale.

Page 202 is the author page upon which this teacher turn writer reveals something of motivation, and includes a web address for those who want to continue their journey with her and many works written for middle grades and young adult readers.

True this is book with middle grades and young adults as the target audience, however, I too am a teacher, and enjoy reading books meant for the Kindergarten and on through High School crowd.

The Ghosts of Malhado is a work I have shared with readers 4th grade and beyond, and have yet to find a 'kid' reader who is not drawn into the tale as it is read, my copy shows nice 'loving'.... Books that remain pristine, I find, are the ones kids do not read. A book in the classroom or library showing wear IS a book that is read, I want my students to read the books I bring to share with them.

The book sent for review is a hard cover binding, I think a paperback might be less cumbersome for carrying in a back pack

The few instances that I see of Spanish, perhaps misspoke, I explain and we go on, it is good for children to realize that word by word translation of a language not our own allows the reader to grasp the intent of the words. I also mention what the phrase may be when spoken by actual native speakers.

I enjoyed meeting Alex, Julieann and their friends and acquaintances, formed nice mental pictures of the situations and settings as I read, and thoroughly enjoyed the fast paced narrative woven around an old story regarding the particular setting of San Luis Treasure Island, Texas.

I see use for this book in middle grades as students work to understand some of the geography of our country, maps help put narrative and locations in perspective.

Enjoyed the Read, happy to recommend.

The Skinny on Success
Jim Randel
Rand Media Co
c/o Rand Publishing
265 Post Road West, Westport, CT, 06880
9780981893594, $14.95 PB, $7.96 Kindle, 204pp,

Jim Randel's -skinny on success: why not you- brings reader concentration straight into what the author believes to be the 10 most significant behaviors of effective people. In the narrative of the author, characteristics that set successful people apart embrace persistence, preparation, maximize probability, take action, combat failure, mental fortitude, optimism, hard work, persevere, belief in right and wrong.

Randel has created a sequence of nicely penned, quick read publications each entitled The Skinny On(R) with each presented as a work jam-packed with a system of drawings, information flow and narrative; all are meant to transfer data in a short and snappy, thought provoking and winning approach.

"skinny on success: why not you" points the spotlight upon those all-important essentials apparently guiding the lives of successful people whilst guiding reader understanding re how others can also realize goals which can lead the reader to success.

Jim Randel's -skinny on success: why not you- is a fast paced narrative calculated to be read and re read time and again for understanding, inspiration and reassurance as well as amusement.

Jam-packed with stick-figure images as well as graphs, charts, photographs; the skinny on success is the rousing force of the book, with just plain good counsel entwined with amusing sketches meant to further attentiveness and concentration within the stricture of a pioneering, commanding approach.

Jim Randel's idiosyncratic, unique methodology for relating information via use of stick people, propels readers in the direction for seeing triumph in a new way as readers develop expertise with tools that will promote them toward becoming triumphant. The Skinny on Success re-counts how to: Recognize the stages triumphant people take to realize victory.

A good source work; -skinny on success: why not you- can be an commendable tool for business leaders, personal trainers, motivational speakers, educators, and success coaches, along with persons who may be on the lookout for candid, albeit real-world methods for refining their lives via a fresh balance of dandy commendations coupled with down-to-earth optimism.

The Skinny On works are to the point, fast reads most readers will want to read through quickly and then return for specific reading, or for more in depth study. The series incorporates a collection of droll, enjoyable, and appealing books designed to present significant tutorials in a unpretentious, non preachy, concise, and interesting manner as readers discuss and join in exchange of ideas.

Randel points out that success is not inevitably attained by the cleverest or more accomplished, more attractive or even the most fortunate persons; rather success, victorious triumph, is more readily achieved by those who clearly distinguish what it is that they personally feel strongly about, and then distinguish that they not only have potential to realize success, can take action, and set out with perseverance to accomplish the goal notwithstanding setbacks now and then.

Successful people are those who recognize that disappointment is also a part of the process of success. Learn from it, pick themselves up and go forward.

Enjoyed the read, I particularly like the snappy narrative, use of lots of illustrations, quotes and more quotes to help drive a point home.

Happy to recommend Jim Randel's skinny on success: why not you

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

Trailer Dogs
Ellen Garrison
CreateSpace Independent Platform
4900 Lacross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535071680, $11.95, PB, 252pp,

Ellen Garrison experienced life-changing events. She lost her business, her home and much of her savings. As she readily admits, her problems were not unique. After 2008, many people, not only in the US but across the world, were in similar circumstances. What to do? Ms. Garrison considered her choices. Weeping and gnashing her teeth was one of them. There was a bit of that, and then she picked herself up and wrote a book. That book, Trailer Dogs, doesn't make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. What it makes is closer to a few strong Margaritas.

Ms. Garrison is angry. That is understandable. She doesn't deny her anger, she channels it. This book could have been a diatribe filled with hatred and blame. Instead, it became an acerbic comedy, akin to a stand-up routine. The author takes sharp aim at hapless targets. Fortunately, her default perspective, toward people and animals, is kindness. Harsh talk and barbs do not translate into hostile action. Quite the contrary.

I'm not a fan of stand-up comedy. Ms. Garrison's critical observations were off-putting to me. But she won me over with her generosity, toward everyone and everything. There are characters in this book that would have tried my patience. I'm not sure I would have extended the kindness to them that she did.

If you enjoy stand-up comedy, this book is for you. If you're sitting comfortably at home and believe you're in no danger of losing that home, this book may be for you also. And if you've ever told a trailer park joke, this book is especially for you.

Ms. Garrison writes about a community that is like every other community. It has the young, the old, the eccentric, the usual. Instead of disparaging the community in which she has become an involuntary member, she embraces it. That is a tribute to her generosity and insight. I might not have enjoyed her humor, but I certainly did enjoy getting to know her.

War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations
Zig Misiak
Real Peoples History
66 Maich Crescent, Brantford, ON Canada, N3T 6S9
9780981188058,$29.95, CDN, PB, 121pp,

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States. It was written during the War of 1812, a war I learned about in grade school. I was taught then that the US was involved in a heroic (though ironic) Battle of New Orleans, that the US capital was burned, that Dolly Madison was brave and that the English impressed American sailors from American ships. Zig Misiak's War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations doesn't mention any of these events. He describes a different war. Mr. Misiak is Canadian, and the Canadian experience was distinct from the one I learned about. Both the narrative I learned as a child and Mr. Misiak's book are accurate, and yet so dissimilar. That's the most interesting lesson I took from this book: a reminder that information is dependent on perspective.

War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations is a beautiful book. It is filled with high-quality color photos that constitute a virtual tour through history, Canadian history, and the flip side of US history. Although this book was written for students, I found it engaging and enlightening. I read it in two stages. The first was a cursory review of the pictures and captions. It's hard to resist these and so I just enjoyed myself. Then I went back to read in detail Mr. Misiak's description of events.

This is when the lesson on perspective truly hit home. For example, Mr. Misiak speaks about the United States' "perceived violations of American sovereignty". Certainly England thought it had a right to institute a blockade and interfere with ships in international waters (that is, stop and board neutral vessels). It would not be the first or last nation to do this. But the fact that it was done and that a US ship was fired upon, is more than a perception. Mr. Misiak describes the United States' ambition, and aggression, in seeking to absorb Canada. That is a fact, one that was glossed over in the history I was taught. And generally omitted in my history classes was the role of indigenous Americans and their alliance with Britain in the hope of securing an independent nation west of the Mississippi.

Indigenous Americans, Canadians, and the British fought side by side during the war. The British shared with their indigenous allies the desire to stop American expansion by creating an indigenous buffer state on the US frontier. Many Canadians died defending their homeland, as did many indigenous Americans, including the legendary Tecumseh.

The war ended with the US and Britain each declaring victory. The British agreed to respect US naval neutrality and the US abandoned its ambition to take over Canada. Besides the loss of life and devastation of property, the losers in the war were indigenous Americans. With the signing of the peace treaty, US expansion beyond the Mississippi was insured and the slow, unrelenting erosion of indigenous sovereignty proceeded.

Mr. Misiak has a gentle voice, which is consistent with his respect for people of the First Nations (a term used to describe the indigenous people of Canada). It is obvious that Mr. Misiak has cultivated a relationship with representatives of the First Nations and that he wishes to share their legacy and struggle for Constitutional rights. His book, War of 1812: Highlighting Native Nations, would be a worthy addition to any library, especially if young readers have access to that library.

A. G. Moore

Paul's Bookshelf

Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy For a Living Earth
David C. Korten
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc
1333 Broadway, Suite 100, Oakland CA 94612-1921
9781626562905, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 192 pages

For many years, the world has been operating under a Story (or Narrative) that governs many aspects of daily life. It's all about money and markets, and it goes something like this: "Money equals happiness. Those who have a lot of money are to be admired and revered. Those who don't have a lot of money are just lazy or stupid. Slightly altering the 1980's bumper sticker: He Who Dies With the Most Money Wins. Nothing must be allowed to get in the way of economic growth, whether it's an increased level of air pollution, or an endangered animal whose forest habitat is about to be clearcut." Among the effects of such a Story are the near destruction of the American economy, and an income inequality gap the size of the Grand Canyon. Maybe the time has come for a new Story.

The author calls it a Sacred Life and Living Earth Story. It is designed to work in harmony with the Earth, and not treat this world like it's a dead rock for sale. The author calls for shifting employment away from activities that harm society to activities that help society. Unproductive financial speculation should be made unprofitable. In college, the focus should shift from pre-employment degree programs to facilitation of lifelong learning. Replace the business school curriculum of phantom-wealth economics with one of living-wealth economics. Get rid of the walls that isolate academic departments from each other and the walls that isolate formal learning from the living world. It is reasonable to say that these proposals have no chance of being adopted, given the current conditions in Washington. Don't all great social movements go through stages, from Impossible to Maybe to Inevitable?

The author does a great job diagnosing the present state of the world. His proposals for how to fix it are not exactly new, but they are still very thought-provoking. Perhaps it is time for a radical rethinking of our current impasse. This book is an excellent place to start.

Tesseracts Eighteen: Wrestling With Gods
Liana Kerzner and Jerome Stueart
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
PO Box 1714, Calgary AB T2P 2L7 CANADA
9781770530683, $15.95, 265 pages

This yearly compendium of Canadian fantasy and science fiction tales deals with matters of religion and spirituality.

The religions of Christianity and Shintoism are mashed together in a weird amalgamation, led by an android Jesus. A Muslim woman uses surgery to get closer to Allah. A woman summons Ra, the ancient Egyptian Sun God, to see if he can do anything about a Canadian winter. There is a story about a teacher in a rural school, forcing Indian children to learn the ways of the white man, a teacher who just happens to be a vampire. The Hindu god Ganesha is convinced to get rid of his elephant trunk to be more acceptable to modern Hindus. There is also a Last person on Earth story.

Another Tesseracts volume equals another bunch of Very Good to Excellent stories. They will certainly get the reader thinking about Truth and who we are as human beings. As usual, this is very much worth reading.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Randy Cecil
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
978076366808, $19.99, 144 pages,

In the town of Bloomville, every morning a little white street dog makes her rounds and stops in front of a red door. She patiently waits for a girl named Eleanor to lower a scrap of food tied to a piece of string from her window. Sam, who is Eleanor's dad, practically trips over the white dog as he leaves for his job at the grocery store every morning. Eleanor names the dog Lucy. Even though life is hard on the street Lucy gets by, except that she is always hungry and dreams of a home. Eleanor does okay on her own every day while Sam is working but she is lonely and yearns for a friend. And she loves dogs. Sam is an unhappy grocery store clerk and longs to be a juggler on the vaudeville stage. The problem is he suffers from stage fright. It's perfectly clear that Lucy, Eleanor, and Sam belong together. Their paths keep crossing in the search for their hearts' desires. Then one fateful meeting in the park results in a happy accident that is pure magic. Cecil's simple story of finding bliss unfolds in four acts over 144 pages. Textured black and white illustrations framed in circles achieve the look of vintage cartoons from the vaudeville era. "Lucy" is an achingly sweet story about longing and companionship that will captivate young readers again and again.

Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment
Wenonah Hauter
The New Press
120 Wall Street, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10005
9781620970072, $27.95 HC, $15.37 Kindle, 384 pages,

For the uninitiated, fracking is a process of unconventional natural gas extraction in which millions of gallons of water, tons of sand, and unknown quantities of toxic chemicals are injected from holes drilled miles underground, to fracture rock and release oil and gas. The author Wenonah Hauter, who is the founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch, makes it clear in her introduction that "Frackopoly" is a treatise against fracking. From air pollution, water contamination, and public health risks caused by fracking to its serious impacts on climate change, Hauter lays out the case for banning fracking. While much of fracking's impacts may already be familiar to the average person and certainly environmental activists, as anyone who has ever dealt with the oil & gas industry knows, the devil is in the details. No matter what you know -- or think you know -- about fracking, you don't know the history of fracking like Hauter tells it. And what a compelling story this is. Hauter takes readers on an engrossing journey through time from the 19th century to the 21st century in a thorough and well-researched chronicle of how the oil & gas industry amassed geopolitical dominance and became the most powerful and unregulated industry in the world.

Living in Colorado, "one of the most fracked states in the country" with over 52,000 active wells, I literally marinade in fracking's impacts. I thought I knew a lot about fracking but I didn't know the half of it. Hauter filled in loads of missing details and gaps in history for me. I often say that the oil & gas industry rules the world and they just allow the rest of us to live in it. Hauter's "Frackopoly" proves my point. Yet her message is one of hope, not discouragement. As much information as there is here to be absorbed, there are many lessons as well. At this critical point in history with climate change upon us, this book should be required reading for every human on the planet -- most especially politicians. You don't need to be an environmentalist or anti-fracking activist to learn the lessons of "Frackopoly." You just need to care about the future.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Polk's Bookshelf

The Rocks of Aserol
Richard Dee
4Star SciFi
9780995458109, $4.99, ebook, 250 pages
9780995458116, $14.99, paperback,

Horis, a junior employee at the Ministry of Coal, has been dispatched to the Mines of Waster to investigate a report from the mine manager of strange happenings at the mine. In a classic conflict of interest, Horis' boss at the ministry, Terrance's family owns the mine and is conspiring with a small and powerful man, Cavendish, to control the government while hiding and profiting from discoveries made in the mine. Young and naive, Horis soon finds himself caught up in their conspiracy and made a scapegoat for their actions which result in the deaths of a large group of mine workers.

Teaming up with a young lady named Grace and a former soldier named Maloney, Horis tries to survive. When Grace is kidnapped and Maloney brings in friends from his old army regiment, and a little help from the Drogans who attack from the air, they take the fight back to Terrance and Cavendish.

A good action adventure/conspiracy story based in steam-punk science fiction, the discoveries made in The Rocks of Aserol are mind-blowing for citizens of that time and place. The origin of the discoveries is never questioned or explained. The presence of the strange substances in the mine is just accepted as fact, partly due to the urgency imposed by the conspiracy on the survival of the characters. The characters are sufficiently well developed for the story and it is well written and edited.

The Rocks of Aserol is an entertaining read for lovers of steam-punk, general adventures and conspiracy stories. The action is good and entertaining even if a bit farfetched. The good guys are likeable; the bad guys detestable, a damsel is in distress and the white knight is on his way to save her. What else could a reader want? 4-stars

No More Heroes
Roo MacLeod
Heroes Publishing
9781532965364, $15.49, paperback, 344 pages
B01EVJAEFQ, $3.99, Kindle

'The bag' has disappeared. Marvin had approached Ben and given him a large heavy bag to deliver to Marvin's mother. Ben, unable to carry the bag stuffed it under the bench on which they sat. From there, it disappeared...and all hell broke loose in the town of Ostere.

To Ben, his homeless associates, his enemies and seemingly every homeless person, gang member, and misfit in town, that bag suddenly became top priority. To Ben, it became a simple matter of staying alive and sorting out an issue of sub-conscious importance to him-who killed Marvin? To the Black Hats, it was matter of maintaining their criminal enterprise. To Linda and her boyfriend, it was a matter of money, as it was to the Vicar, Weismann, and myriad other characters. But no one really knew, for sure. All they knew was that the contents of the bag were gathered by Cecil, Marvin's father and that the contents belonged to the Black Hat Cartel who controlled the 'Eastside'.

No More Heroes is an entertaining romp though a broken dystopian society characterized by street survival in groups that stake out turf and defend it against all others. A story of human obsession, imperfection and frailty, the characters are colorful caricatures of a cross-section of humanity who function in a dysfunctional world characterized by ineffective, corrupt, and somewhat incompetent police who are overseen by soldiers who never manage to have any great impact on the story.

It is narrated in the first person from Ben's perspective, so readers have a good idea of what he is thinking; a good thing, since the rest of the characters seem a bit insane.

In a nutshell, No More Heroes is a wacky mystery that entertains by drawing readers in twisted story paths until they can't quite believe what's happening. It should be loved by mystery and action readers everywhere. 5-Stars

Van Ripplewink: You Can't Go Home Again
Paul Clayton
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781534743779, $9.99, paperback
B01I45FTOY, $2.99, Kindle,

Van Ripplewink is a normal high school boy from the late 1960 who lives in a middleclass white neighborhood in Philadelphia, that is, until an accident occurs that outs him into a coma for forty-eight years. Awaking, Van is mystified. He knows that the neighborhood is not the one he left; the area has now become an exclusively black neighborhood and the whole world seems divided along racial lines. There is whole new social dynamic based on youth gangs and crime. His parents, his friends and everyone he knows is gone; his school-closed.

Still, Van makes friends among homeless people he meets, and with educated black residents like Charles and his Niece, Mignon. He also makes friends of a sort with a black wannabe street gang member who is more interested in discrediting Van's attention to Mignon, than being a friend. Van cannot understand the animosity between the black youth of Philadelphia and the police, and the bias, and blatant disregard for right and wrong coupled with the situation ethics displayed by his student newspaper editor.

Eventually, the interracial tensions to irrational violence fueled by media bias and outside agitators, and as always in these circumstances, many innocent people are made victims.

Van Ripplewink is a book of complex characters who are struggling to exist in a world gone crazy. Van struggles to make sense of it, Mignon struggles to stay on the legitimate, legally acceptable side of it, Charles is concerned first with keeping Mignon safe and then Van as well. Chris is struggling to exist between his lust for Mignon and her pull to legitimacy, and his affinity for the street life and the anger he has adopted from the other street bullies.

Van Ripplewink is a good read for anyone interested in stories about social dynamics and is a fascinating look into what the world has become in less than fifty years. The story is good; the view of the world from its perspective is stark and disturbing reality. 5-Stars

The Conviction
John Matthews
Amazon Digital Publishing
B00SRPX4QC, $2.99, Kindle, 72 pages,

Take a prosecuting attorney, a defense attorney, and two previously convicted felons who have served their time, imprison them in an abandoned warehouse, feed them information through videotapes and accuse them of conspiring through their plea agreements to convict an otherwise innocent man and frame him for a murder rap resulting in a life sentence; mix them up, put them under pressure, turn up the heat and what do you have?

Panic? Four different individuals reacting in four different ways? Denial? Recognition? Acceptance? All of the above? None of the above?

In The Conviction by John Matthews we see a little of all of the above. For the attorneys, much of it is taken with a shrug; after all that is the way their courtroom world works; the little fish are bargained away by the bigger fish with more information. The "standup guy" keeps his mouth shut and does the time while the bigger fish with more information bargains the "standup guy's" freedom away. For the criminals, there is no remorse for the guy that took the heat; only a concern that their case should not be re-opened.

But, who's playing them? Who is this 'Jordan Davidson' who is "giving them an opportunity to make it right"? Who does he think he is to take on their system?

The Conviction is an action drama in which four people face four different scenarios in four different ways and are offered an opportunity, albeit a painful one, to make things right. The characters are shallow and consistent with the story. We know little about them except a little about their sources of motivation. If you would like to know how each of them reacted and the identity of the mysterious Jordan Davidson, The Conviction is available on Amazon for $2.99. It is a unique, enjoyable quick read for those who love conspiracies, legal drama and crime novels. 4-stars

A Game of Greed and Deception
John Matthews
Amazon Digital Publishing
B00OHQA4HW, $3.99, Kindle, 189 pages,

When Stephen, a financially successful business man, married Tammy, a much younger woman with a history of mental and behavioral problems the end result could have been predicted by almost anyone; either divorce with a huge financial settlement, or death for one or the other, too often, the husband. So when after a year of increasingly troubled marriage, Stephen, Tammy and Stephen's daughter, Maria travel to an isolated cliff side hunting cabin at the top of a Colorado mountain for vacation the ingredients for mayhem are in the bowl waiting to be mixed; what the result will be after the mixing and baking has occurred is anyone's guess.

But the author continues to add ingredients: a crazy miner as the original owner and builder with a love of torture and murder, an ancient Spanish treasure, a plot hatched by Tammy to kill Stephen, a plot to foil Tammy hatched by Maria, a mysterious homeless 'hunter' who just happens to live part-time at the cabin, a huge snow-storm, and a big black man who never lets anyone really know whose side he's own until the end. A man, who oddly enough, who seems to resemble the helper of the crazy man who originally built the cabln more than a hundred years before. After adding all of these into the mix, the reader is left with a cliff-hanger (literally-the cabin is on a cliff) in which one never knows who is alive and who isn't, who's playing head games with who, and who will be the next to die. Believe me, the reader hasn't a clue!

The story is largely a narration of Tammy's mental gyrations. Tammy is a high high-strung, high anxiety personality stretched to the breaking point by anxiety over her own plotting. We see what Tammy sees, hear what Tammy hears and are treated to Tammy's fearful and angry interpretation of her observations. Tammy and Maria are well developed characters. Stephen and the other characters are sufficiently developed for purposes of the story, but only have supporting roles since the drama is acted out in Tammy's mind.

A Game of Greed and Deception is a suspense novel of the first order and should appeal to everyone who loves edge of the seat suspense and psychodrama. It should appeal also to those who love mysteries and murder conspiracies. 5-Stars

Oasis in the Clouds: When Worlds Collide - Book 1
C. Esther
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781534808997, $9.99, paperback
153480899X, $2.99, Kindle, 248 pages,

In the land of Gorath, the monarchy is backed by the magic of a Wicca. The Wicca and the monarchy have a long history in which each Wicca appointed as an advisor to the throne is required to sacrifice home and family in order to serve. There is a prophesy that a crown princess would be born, the first in centuries, and that this crown princess would serve as both Queen and Wicca, serving both functions. Princess Niri appears to fulfill that prophesy; accordingly Wicca Melody feels threatened by it.

Taking steps to imprison the princess whom she has known and loved since birth, Melody embarks on a conspiracy to mislead the royal family as to the whereabouts of the princess. She would have been successful except for the nearly unprecedented intervention of a dragon.

The author takes us on a journey through the wonder of the discovery of magic, through a dark conspiracy in which a person from a very bad background conspires to remain in a position of influence just a little bit longer. The reader is at once sympathetic to Princess Niri, while condemning Melody through strong feelings of empathy for her difficult position. It's easy to understand Melody's position, if not her means of accomplishing her goal. Meanwhile, Princess Niri acquires a few loyal friends along the way with extraordinary powers that will stay with her long into the future.

Despite deception and heartache, Oasis in the Clouds is a sweet tale of friendship, of overcoming obstacles, and ensuring that evil plots do not succeed. It has a most unusual and unexpected ending that makes it a great book for younger readers who love fantasy. 4-stars

Uncertain Origin
Steven Canley
Bytestory Publishing
9781532754722, $11.99, paperback
B017UP7BYU, $3.99, Kindle, 284 pages,

Who can know the heart of man? According to the Bible, the heart of man is desperately wicked and it doesn't get any more wicked than counterfeiting prescription drugs so that patients who depend upon them do not get life sustaining medication they need. Uncertain Origins focuses attention on a large and growing side of the illegal drug market of which most are not aware. How would a patient ever know that the prescription drugs he must take are the correct ones, or if they lack active ingredients, or even contain harmful ingredients all because of human greed.

Enter Jeremy Cole, a computer forensics consultant, who works for law firms downloading civil trial evidence from the computers of potential defendants through the pre-trial discovery process. Jeremy is good at his job and is hired by his 'girlfriend', Asha, a civil attorney to process computers at Lake Medical Supply, a wholesale Supplier of drugs. Through the Lake case, Jeremy gains the attention of Nora Galloway, the 'defender of the brand' for Clarus Pharmaceuticals who is on a one woman mission to put suppliers of counterfeit drugs out of business. Becoming the computer forensics guru for Nora's team soon places Jeremy directly in the sights of major drug counterfeiter and ex-CIA employee Adrian Wahl with near disastrous results-and in the end a twist. While many readers may suspect the twist, its confirmation is satisfying because it ties up loose ends from earlier in the book.

Uncertain Origins flows well and maintains a steady pace, although it slows at times and seems to jump around a bit. The characters are well developed and Jeremy is likeable. He shows an unusual amount of motivation toward the end for someone in his position. Asha, I felt was self-absorbed from the beginning and other than the work he could get through her firm, not worth Jeremy's time. They seemed to use each other, but each has an agenda the other doesn't know about. The other characters are developed just well enough to fit the story, and they are generally neutral to strongly disliked (Dave Bechtel for example). It is generally well written and edited.

Uncertain Origins is entertaining and informative as the author shows himself knowledgeable in prescription drug markets and computer forensics. It is well worth the read for lovers of mysteries, action adventures and/or computer forensics. 4-Stars

Swarm Theory
Eric Sullivan
Ten Talents Publishing
147 Hwy. 1206, Deville, LA 71328
9780988758414, Hardcover, 496 pages
9780988758407, paperback
Smashwords, $4.99,

Dr, Thelonious "Monk" Zones, a consulting criminal profiler, is in the wrong place at the wrong time when he tries to stop an apparent rape attempt and is injured by an explosion that levels an animal shelter and an old Chinese restaurant nearby. He is doubly in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Decatur Police decides to hire him to consult on the case. The case has good points. For example, working with Detectives Marmaduke and Rome; and bad points, for example working with Captain Franklin, an ass-kissing politician, and having case facts that refuse to fit his well drawn profile. It also interferes with Zones' efforts to investigate his own mother's death, at least until a key piece of evidence from his mother's case turns up in the current case.

In a story that spans rape, terrorism, bomb-making, animal rights crimes and a few other genre, Zones, Marmaduke, and Rome relentlessly pursue the bad buys from the Atlanta metropolitan area across the United States and the world-until they learn the motive is simple old greed.

Swarm Theory is full of twists and complexity. It is very long involved story and while it is an excellent story it suffers from it's length and complexity dragging in places. The characters are well developed and complex. It's easy for readers to like the good guys and dislike the bad guys-at least once they figure out who the bad guys really are.

Swarm Theory is a wonderful book for those who love conspiracy theories, police procedural and crime action novels and anyone who wants a good adventure. Be warned it's a long but worthwhile read. 4-Stars

Quest For Kriya
Rahul Deokar
Unleash U Unlimited Publishing
9780990516200, $15.99, Paperback, 282 pages
9780990516217, $24.99, Hardcover
B00NQIKI3C, $7.99, Kindle,

Shakti is a survivor of the 1993 earthquake that struck Latur, India. Having lost her family in the disaster, she is forced to survive and eventually contacts Kriya-di who takes her in and gives her a home. Kriya-di is an airline hostess with Trans-Pacific Airlines and after graduating from college, Shakti also becomes an airline hostess and continues to live with Kriya-di. However, Kriya-di has unknowingly become involved with the drug Mumbai Drug Mafia and is kidnapped. Shakti must fight the drug mafia and the incompetent Mumbai Police to have any hope of finding Kriya-di.

Shiva is a computer software business man working for Alltech, a Silicon Valley Firm. He works with Harry, his best buddy from Cornell, but their boss is a idiot whose ambition exceeds his intelligence. In a fit of anger, he fires Shiva, who eventually takes Harry and joins with another Cornell friend, Hong to found a startup software company. After ten years of startup growing pains, Shiva's company is ready to take on major backing and grow.

But fate has other ideas, and Shakti, Shiva, Harry, Harry's friend Sally, Kriya-di, drug mobsters in both Mumbai and Thailand, including a former school bully of Shiva's collide in violent finale during the December 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of south-central and Southeast Asia.

Quest for Kriya is an extremely entertaining book that mixes a great crime action adventure with elements of far-eastern spiritualism and more than a little element of fate. The characters are well developed and the reader can readily understand their emotions and motives. There is no problems empathizing with any of the good guys and I found myself cheering them on. The bad guys, well, it is enough to say they are people readers will love to hate.

The Quest for Kriya is a great read for anyone mystery, crime/action, or gangster lovers, or for lovers of stories about India or Indian spirituality and philosophy. 5-Stars

Clabe Polk

Susan's Bookshelf

'Til The End: A Novel of Murder, Addiction, and Lies
Joseph Patrick 33
Lexie Enterprises
9780997521627, $13.99, 216 Pages

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Some great friendships are forged in our youth especially in team sports. The stories of four friends are told in this book which is set in Detroit, between 1988 and 1993.

Ryan, Tyler, Jacob and Avery are high school football stars, young men with a future, looking forward to fame, fortune, money and success. High spirited and with the world at their feet, they have their dreams of fame and fortune, and the world in their pockets, so to speak.

Suddenly however all this alters when something happened one night, a horrific event which changes everything. They must protect each other, and so they make a pact, their secret can never be revealed...

When something like this occurs, it can't help but change the people involved, life will never be the same, but it must go on and everyone must deal with it in their own unique way.

As they struggle to keep the secret, each day wondering if it will surface, the boys search for escapism in the usual ways, and alienate the ones they love. Involvement in the worlds of drugs and drink, the untimely death of two of them, and abuse tear them apart. This is a very interesting read.

Perhaps it should be used as an example, or reminder that life is not a video game, you can't reset the screen or reload the game, once something is done, it cannot be undone - you must live with the consequences for life, the buck stops with you!

I Swear It Happened Just Like This: 17 Short Stories for Your Pocket
Khaled Talib
Newsline Communications
B01HBVTK7Y, $0.99, 47 Pages

Genre: Short Stories

Ever found yourself stuck in with a boring person who just keeps rattling on, ever felt that you should say something, but am not sure what? Well this is just the book for you! It I a wonderful collection of very short stories which, whatever the situation you find yourself in, should give you something to talk about.

As always, some stories will appeal more than others, depending on what tickles your fancy, but however fussy you are there should be something for everyone. Whether you fancy something a little scary, funny, strange but true, or philosophical, they are all there, ready for your perusal. Then, you can store them away until that time in the future when they are just what you need.
Entertaining and interesting, this book was a very enjoyable read.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

Where Do They Go?
Barry Donaldson
Tellwell Talent
9781773022437, $9.49, PB, 34pp,
9781773022444, $16.95, HC, 38pp,

Children: (Age Level: 4 - 8)

An unknown mystery has hit the Wilson household. While doing laundry Ms. Wilson discovers that she is short of one sock. She is convinced that her children Naleaha and Jaylen are behind the strange disappearance.

Wishing to locate the missing object she confronts them. Both deny they have any knowledge of where the sock may be located. She does not believe them and gives them the choice to either find the item or be grounded from their beloved video games.

Naleaha and Jaylen devise a scheme to find the missing article. Will their plan work? Will their detective skills reveal something that is assured to be out of this world?

WHERE DO THEY GO is filled with beautiful illustrated pictures that bring the story to life; each one is rich in detail that seems to breathe life into the overall significance of the story. I was impressed with how the author cleverly weaved a sense of mystery into the overall plot. I feel that any child would be delighted to discover such a wonderful and entertaining book.

Barry Donaldson is an outstanding author. I can tell that he has put a lot of thought process in writing this book. I found that his writing style was a smooth and enjoyable reading experience, one that is assured to appeal to a large audience. I feel that this book should be considered as required reading for pre-school children for it is one that will appeal to their inner being. I can very easily see it become a highly popular series.

Hollywood in Crisis or: The Collapse of the Real
Wheeler Winston Dixon
Palgrave Macmillan
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001
9783319404806, $54.99, HC, $52.24 Kindle, 116 pages,

Film History, Theory and Criticism

Some of the world's leading films have revolved around life's greatest tragedies. One of the most memorable took place on the horrific day of 9/11. This date is forever ingrained in everyone's memory as one that changed so many people's lives. Americans found themselves viewing the mind-numbing event, as they stayed glued to their televisions. Their hearts broke at all the innocent lives that were lost that terrible day.

Both film and television were forever changed on that day. Even now, there is a sense of remembrance as we look back at how vastly different the film industry was during that period, as opposed to what we see today. HOLLYWOOD IN CRISIS OR: THE COLLAPSE OF THE REAL takes an in-depth look at the contemporary film industry in great detail, and examines the films and television shows we see everyday with a critical eye. It showcases how this moneymaking machine uses current affairs to generate hundreds of millions of dollars.

HOLLYWOOD IN CRISIS is a thought-provoking book that will thoroughly educate the reader. Each page provides a remarkable amount of information about both the film and television industry. I learned facts that I never dreamed existed, and was amazed at how the author tied it into world events. More than ever, today's movies are a means of escape for audiences.

It is evident that Dixon is an expert in the field of film industry. He has used his extensive background to provide a very eye-opening look into the film world. I feel this book would make an excellent resource for anyone interested in the overall impact of the films we see, and often don't think about as deeply as we should.

Secrets to Shine Through the Noise
Akasha Garnier
Motivational Press, Inc.
7668 El Camino Real, #104-223 Carlsbad, CA 92009
9781628653182, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 156 pages,

Like a beacon of light this book calls out to your body and soul. It commands you to be brave step out of the box and find your purpose and reason for being on this earth. Each word penetrates deep within your mind as you embark on a journey of self-improvement.

Obstacles come into our lives at the least expected time and place. It is how we deal with each one that allows us to continue on our pathway of success. Some of these roadblocks tend to want to drag us down to their level of despair. This book shows how a person is able to reach high above the negativity and latch on to the positive light that will help guide them to victory.

"Secrets to Shine Through the Noise: GPS to Amplify Your Brand and Find the Path to the Life You Want" is an exceptional book. After I finished reading it I felt that I had the knowledge, powerful, and skill to make major changes to my life. I feel this book is one that provides so much emotional enrichment.

Akasha Garnier is a wonderful author who has written a book that can literally help every person who takes the time to pick it up and read it. Mere words can't begin to describe how thought provoking I found this book. I feel that is a true work of art, one the author should be very proud of has written. The literature world is blessed to have such a talented author in existence.

The Five Colors of Our Nature Walk
Latisha Jones, M.B.A
Illustrated by Sean Winburn
Amazon Digital Services
9780692760661, $TBA, Paperback,
B01KY7Z4XG, $4.99, Kindle,

Young Adult

One morning while Joshua's mother prepared him breakfast she made the offer to take him on a nature walk through their neighborhood. Joshua had never been on a nature walk and he was excited to try something new.

As they began their journey they discovered ants, birds, squirrels, and trees. Joshua's mother pointed out that a tree has five different colors of leaves.

When he saw the green leaves he associated them with limes. When they found the yellow leaves it reminded him of bananas. The next two colors that were reveals to him was red and orange, they reminded him of pumpkins and apples. The last color was brown and he compared it to the color of a coconut.

Joshua learned through this education walk that there is five phases a tree goes through when they are in season. He was overjoyed that his mother had taken the time out of her busy schedule to provide such a memorable experience.

THE FIVE COLORS OF OUR NATURE WALK is a beautiful book that any child would enjoy. I was impressed with the colorful decoration and illustrations that brought this book to life. I feel that it is a very well developed education tool that should be considered as required reading for all young adults.

It is evident that Latisha Jones has used the knowledge she gained working in a childhood education environment to write such a wonderful and informative book. I feel this book is an exceptional addition to the young adult gene. I highly recommend this book to all youngsters for I feel that there are valuable lessons that can help them excel in the development of their life skills.

Awakening (The Spirit Book 1)
K.M. Riley
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01C6R3BVE, $3.99, Kindle, 256pp,


On Princess Adele's eighteenth birthday she inherits the Kingdom of Iden. Her new position turns her life upside down for an evil spirit is intent to destroy her lands and all that crosses its path. Adele refuses to allow her townspeople to be destroyed. With sheer determination and a fighting spirit she goes to do battle with the sinister enforcer with the sole intent that she will be the one able to stop the destruction.

Will Adele succeed to abolish the chaos that is robbing her land of happiness and be able to bring peace back into the territory? Or will she find herself a helpless victim at the malicious hands of the evil being?

"Awakening" is an outstanding fantasy novel. I was so impressed that the author incorporated a strong and fearless female to battle the evil forces. It was refreshing how she showcased this woman as one that portrayed a saving grace to her townspeople. I feel this introduction of such a courageous individual will have a positive impact to young readers.

K.M. Riley is an exceptional author. With her writing I can see that she possesses a solid writing voice that is hard to ignore. Her characters and the setting where her story takes place present the perfect tone. I am convinced that serious consideration should be given to "Awakening" in incorporating it into the reading curriculum of high school students for it centers on a female character that has the ability to show other young ladies that nothing can stand in their way when they set their mind to conquer any obstacle.

Reckoning (The Spirit Book 2)
K.M. Riley
Amazon Digital Services LLC
1495972720, $3.99, Kindle, 207 pages,


Adele fought a fierce battle against the enemy intent on destroying her kingdom. Unfortunately, her best efforts were not enough to beat her rival, Locien. He has ruthlessly done everything to ensure her beloved nation is destroyed.

Adele refuses to believe that the evil has defeated her and now has complete control of her land. She enlists the help of a man of mystery one that she can only see. Death is prominent around every corner, she finds herself in constant battle to win back what she lost. Will she be successful in bring the evil to justice?

"Reckoning" is filled with huge portions of high emotional drama. Each passage will keep you guessing on what is next in the battle against good vs evil. The cast of characters that are introduced are so well developed. What makes this book so unique is that even though it is part of a series it still can be read as a standalone novel.

K.M. Riley is fast becoming my all-time favorite fantasy author. I absolutely love the way that she is able to turn mere words into such exciting action packed scenes. Another aspect I admire about her writing style is that she offers fresh think out of the box books. Similar authors tend to stick to what is the normal; she on the other hand takes chances with her writing. Her bravery pays off by having a very satisfied reader.

Other books in The Spirit series include: Awakening - Book 1

Cherry Smack: Trainspotting Meets Breakfast Club
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01GZ73M9C, $0.99, Kindle, 192 Pages,


Jimmy Bramble was once a part of a gang. Now all his friends have grown up and he finds himself caught in a dead end nine to five job. He knows that has to be more than this life than the way he currently is living.

Jimmy makes a life changing decision to break out of his dull routine and go in search of adventure. This will involve abandoning Kelly his childhood girlfriend. As he turns his back on all that he finds safe and familiar will he be entering into a dark existence?

Will Jimmy reclaim the adrenaline he had in his younger days? Or will his journey take him to a dark and sinister place where each day is filled with drugs, sex, and a battle for power? Will he be strong enough to survive this new lifestyle?

"Cherry Smack: Trainspotting Meets Breakfast Club" is a delightful book. It shows how one man is brave enough to break out of the life he is living and seek a whole new world of high action adventure. The cast of characters that are introduced each lend their own special magic to this wonderful tale.

MEI is a British author who has a unique writing style. This book is a testament to his freestyle talent. This is the type of book that will leave you guessing at how it will end. I feel that this author works is a noteworthy addition to the literally world.

Innocent Crook
D.E. Rogers
Rogers Entertainment Group International (REGI)
Amazon Digital Services
9780970880895, $0.99, Kindle,


In Memphis, Tennessee Maggie May made a living by being a bank robber and a drug dealer. She is ruthless in her pursuit to finance her business. She specialized in selling, robbing, stealing and partying. She has two children Juniper who was fourteen and Penny was six. She had no parental skills and often fails to perform her mother duties. Juniper found himself taking on the role of parent to Penny.

When Maggie makes a wrong decision to involve Juniper and Penny in one of her bank robbery the children find themselves being innocent pawns in the chaos of the situation. When questioned by the police officer where his mother is, he quickly lies to protect her and both of them. Then they find themselves at the police precinct with their Aunt Justine showing up to "rescue" them.

Will they be jumping out of the frying pan into a hotter hell? Can Juniper protect him and his sister from the dark days that are certain to be ahead?

"Innocent Crook" is a book that is filled with a potpourri of high intense emotional scenes. From page one you are swept away as find yourself immerged in a drug deal. There you first meet Maggie who is a street wise drug dealer and bank robber. Maggie is a strong woman who refuses to let anyone stand in her way to get what she thinks she deserves in life. Even her kids find themselves caught in her web of self-absorption. As the additional characters are introduced each one lends great substance to the overall plot which makes for a very intriguing tale.

D.E. Rogers has proven to me that he is an exceptional author who knows how to write a very compelling story. I found so many of my own emotions being tested while I was reading this book. Anger at Maggie for the neglect she showed her children. Compassion and admiration for Juniper who even though he was living a horrible home life he was able to rise above the situation to be an award winning student. To say this book touched my heart and soul is an understatement.

The Roses I Left Behind: (Book 2 of the Bellevue Trilogy)
La'Chris Jordan
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01KC6IYBI, $2.99, Kindle, 139 pages,

Historical romance

A love once lost is now found . . .

At the young age of sixteen Thomas White had fallen in love with Jeyne. Their love was a forbidden taboo since she was a slave. When the time came for him to leave her and move on in the world he knew that she would always hold his heart.

Now Thomas returns back to Louisiana with memories of his youth haunting his mind. He now finds himself the new heir to a thriving plantation. He does not want the headache or responsible that comes with this inheritance. Then he discovers a family secret, one that is assured to change all their lives.

THE ROSES I LEFT BEHIND is an exceptional book! Being a huge Civil War fan I felt myself instantly gravitate to this time period and characters. This book literally took my breath away as I found myself falling in love with the beloved characters.

La'Chris Jordan is an outstanding author whose writing voice is one that presents a strong presence. I predict this series will quickly become one of the chart toppers of the historical gene. This book took me back to the beloved times when authors new how to write REAL historical novels. Mere words can't begin to describe how impressed with that talent of this author.

Other titles in the Bellevue Trilogy include:

The Memories of Bellevue -Book 1
Love in the Eyes of a Stranger - Book 3

Return to Cameron Country
Angelin Sydney
Massachusetts Books
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B00XUDXROA, $2.99, Kindle, 366 pages,


Love makes us throw caution to the wind . . .

Belle was a Forensic Account in New York whose duties required her to work under extreme pressure. Her life was turned upside down the day she met Captain Bryce Mabo "Wolf" Cameron. He came into her life and literally swept her off her feet. She could not help but fall instantly in love with him even though the two of them was different from night and day.

When Bryce invites her to live with him in his homeland of Queensland, Australia she throws caution to the wind and quits her job and boards the first plane to start her new life. She never dreamed how different life in Australia was compared to New York. Overnight she finds herself in an untamed wilderness with a man who was a complete mystery.

Bryce called out to Belle's untamed side. She wants anything for what they have to be long and lasting. Their marriage is one that occurs in a blink of an eye. Now she finds herself not only a wife but also a step-mother.

Will Belle be able to adjust to her new way of living? Will she be able to forget her former life and adopt the wild land that Bryce loves?

"Return To Cameron Country" is an exceptional book! I was so impressed at the cast of characters that was contained in this one novel. This is how a true romance should be written. I found the setting to be fit perfectly to the overall plot of the story.

Angelin Sydney has proven to me that she has a true talent as a romance author. I applaud her for having the skill to break out of the cookie cutter mold other authors seemed to be trapped in. This book is refreshing and revives the romance gene. I highly recommend this book and look forward to seeing more of her brilliant offerings in the future.

The Brotherhood of Merlin - Book One
Rory D. Nelson
Book Baby
9781483568355, $16.57, PB, $3.99 Kindle, 400 pages,


The town of Gilleon finds itself under attack by a vicious oppressor that is known as Visi-Galia. He is intent to destroy all that is in his path. His attack is centered on the fact he was deprived of the chance to compete for mine rights. When a Councilman from Gilleon is the successful bidder of the rights he is intent to abolish his town.

Two innocent children are caught in the monsters cross fire of destruction. They are captured by the cruel King and fear for what their future holds under the sadistic clutches of the madman. The town's salvation comes in the form of the Lead Knight in Lycenea known as Merlin.

Merlin and his Knights gather together with the intent to defeat Visi-Galia and rescue the townspeople from his deadly hands. Will he be strong enough to beat the madman? Or will be find himself a helpless victim to the uncontrollable beast?

"The Brotherhood Of Merlin" is an exceptional addition to the fantasy gene. From page one the readers take a front seat on a roller coaster ride of high action adventure. The characters are superbly developed and each one lends their own special magic to this mystical journey. I highly recommend this book to all fantasy fans for it is one that presents a very entertaining tale.

Rory D. Nelson is an author whose presents a strong writing voice. I predict this author will quickly become a legend in his own time. His writing style showcases his exceptional talent as a writer. I look forward to seeing more of his offering in the future.

Bulletproof Your Hamstrings
Jim Johnson
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457548192, $19.95, 76 pages, Paperback,

Hamstring injuries are one of the most common sports injuries that exist. It is often one that has a high rate of reoccurrence once it becomes initially injured. It is a type of injury that can cause great pain and extreme discomfort.

The knowledge that is contained in this one book is simply amazing! For spending just 8 minutes a day a person can learn simple techniques that will help strengthening hamstrings. All of the exercise that is involved in this exercise program is very easy to learn.

Another great benefit of this program is that each exercise can be performed in either a gym or in the comfort of your own home. It takes no specialized equipment to perform any of the exercises contained in this book. With only using only 8 minutes a day it can easily be incorporated into any person's busy lifestyle.

"Bulletproof Your Hamstrings: Optimizing Hamstring Function to End Pain and Resist Injury" is one remarkable book! It provides an in-depth look at what is needed to prevent such a painful type of injury. No matter what level of fitness fanatic you may be involved in this program is written for both the novice and the expert.

Jim Johnson has provided a very easy to follow exercise program that is assured to deliver maximum results. I was impressed with how this book is written in simple to understand language and involves no specialized equipment. I feel this book makes a tremendous contribution to the exercise world. I highly recommend it to all people who are involved in any type of exercise program.

Beating Bronchiectasis
Daniel Pecaut
Amazon Digital Publishing
B01HUBS7J2, $0.99, Kindle, 74 pages,

Since the young age of five, Daniel Pecaut's life had been plagued with a series of respiratory conditions that prevented him from enjoying life to the fullest. His condition never seemed to get any better and was carried over into his adult life.

One winter, his health decreased to the point where he feared he would not live to be able to see the summer months. He tried to find a Doctor to cure him of his illness. Unfortunately, his search was an endless parade of going from one Physician to another.

Through an appointment at the Mayo Clinic, Daniel was finally diagnosed with Bronchiectasis. With the only advice given as 'Don't get sick,' he felt that the Doctor's did not believe he would be strong enough to beat this illness.

Miraculously, Daniel's life took a turn for the better when he made the firm decision to take control of his health. He enlisted a team of medical personnel that turned into his salvation. By working with them, he was able to beat an illness that had robbed him so much of his life.

I feel "Beating Bronchiectasis: How I Went from Diagnosis to Full Recovery in Just One Year" delivers hope and revelation to those suffering similar conditions. While reading this story, I felt compelled to understand the many hardships the main character endured. At such a young age, he was plagued with having to deal with respiratory issues. Many times he thought the last breath he was taking would be the last one in the world. This is a prime example of emotional drama at its best.

Daniel Pecaut is an author who writes from the heart. Throughout the pages, you can feel the emotional intensity of his words as you wonder how the book will end. Through sharing his own story of how he was strong enough to overcome an illness that had haunted him since childhood, I feel this book will be a true source of inspiration for anyone who is struggling to overcome an illness they feel to be a death sentence. I highly recommend this author and this book. It will inspire you to have courage no matter what obstacles life throws in your path.

Come Forth In Blood
Matthew Heilman and Ryan Henry
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B00MJEWG16, $2.99, Kindle, 359 pages,


Unteroffizier Matthias Bartsch was a medic in World War II. He and a group of his comrades found themselves facing an execution by an enemy firing squad. He took one last look at a picture of his loving wife and looked onward at the rifles that promised certain death. The sound of their lethal bullets was felt as they ripped into his body. With their impact he felt himself falling into the ground.

Matthias was surprised that he was not killed instantly. He managed to survive the initial impact. Although he ensured that he did not dare breath to alert the snipers of his survival. When they were satisfied that this mission had been a success he heard them leave him and his friends to the element of the earth.

Matthias have been lucky enough to survive the firing squad but what would come next was something he never would have thought would be possible. A group of creatures came and tore into the dead bodies of his friends. He watched in horror as they seemed to rejoice in salvaging the last of their blood. One of the monsters attacked him and he felt the creature force blood down his throat. He managed to escape the demon but he felt at that moment his entire world had changed.

The encounter enabled Matthias to become immortal. He now walked the earth as one of the undead. He was intent to find those responsible for the situation he now found himself in. His only clue to the murderous firing squad members was a name he had overhead they call one of them and a military patch that he remembered they all wore.

Will Matthias be successful in his search for vengeance? Will he learn to adapt as being one of the undead?

"Come Forth In Blood" presents an excellent cast of characters. From page one I was impressed with how the author started the story by showcasing the main character being involved in such a tense situation. With the authors descriptive words I found myself able to visualize and feel the helplessness of the men facing certain death.

The overall plot of the story led the reader to understand what all had led up to Matthias being turned into a vampire. Overall, I felt this book is an excellent addition to the vampire gene. Because it is one that focuses on the start of how the main character found himself being turned into a vampire, it then goes on to illustrate the hardship and sacrifice that is endured by Matthias and how is able to adapt to his new life.

Matthew Heilman and Ryan Henry have done an excellent job in writing COME FORTH IN BLOOD. Their writing voice is one that reveals multiple layers of their writing talent. I was highly impressed with this book. It is written in a tone that is unlike anything that you would find from similar authors in this gene. I feel these two authors writing provide an exceptional outlet that is a true asset to the paranormal gene.

Cameron of the Skies (The Cameron Series Book 2)
Angelin Sydney
Massachusetts Books
Amazon Digital Services
B0131LA85Q, $2.99, Kindle, 400 pages,


Australian Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot, Captain Banjo Mabo Cameron is a member of the Royal Australian Air Force. He has the sex appeal and personality to capture the hearts of any woman that he sets his sights on. Although he has always proclaimed that his first love belongs to his career in the Air Force.

Through a training program in the Mojave Desert he meets Second Warrant Officer, Andrea 'Andy' Cosgrove of the United States Air Force. They are both committed to serving their country. Neither one of them expected to fall in love with this mission.

To complicate their new found love, Andy has an old flame has turned into a sinister serial killer. He has Andy in his radar and is intent to use whatever method he needs to capture her and bring her to her under his control.

Can Andy manage to survive the madman? Will she be able to enlist the help of Banjo? Together will they strong enough to defeat the evil forces? Can their love survive all the obstacles that keep being thrown in their path?

CAMERON OF THE SKIES is an OUTSTANDING novel. This book presented so many nail biting scenes that I lost track of all the feelings that I was experiencing There were many times I was left breathless in high anticipation of having to know what was to come next. This is the type of novel that takes suspense to a new level of intrigue. It is one that is not for the faint of heart for you never know which direction the story will lead.

Angelin Sydney has once again impressed me with her writing style. As an author she has an unlimited amount of talent that enables her to weave a complex situation into an unforgettable scene. I feel that her strong writer's voice is one that is about to set the romance genre by storm. I highly recommend The Cameron series and can't wait to see what is next in this addictive series.

Other books in The Cameron Series include:

Return to Cameron Country - Book 1

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

Lone Wolf: Book Two of The Oldenglen Chronicles
Robin Mason
Coauthored by Michael Mason
Tricklewood Press
9780994837127, $13.99, Trade Paperback, 348 pages

"Hunted. That was the sensation: the feeling of being hunted. Hunted down. Terror gripped his wolven side. But even the part of him that was human felt the loss of freedom. He felt suffocated."

For Jackson, being a new student entering the seventh-grade at Bear Creek Valley Middle School in Ashland, Oregon is challenging. Even though English is the common language between the U.S. and England, he feels like an alien in this different land in the foothills of the mountains.

His summer was an adjustment learning to live with the wildlife in their remote home away from the small town. The magic of nature and this particular place developed into a friendship with the granddaughter of his nearest neighbor and landlord.

Making friends is always a little awkward for Jax. He is comfortable with animals, but teenagers can be a challenge for anyone.

Noah observes Jax holding a wren on his finger in the middle of a group of girls. He states that he is saving the girls and throws the wren against a window.

Jax immediately verbally attacks Noah revealing a part of him that needs to stay hidden. Noah is much bigger and older.

Miraculously, after Jax holds the injured bird, it can fly away. Jax feels relieved. Noah, angry, calling Jax, a Freak. Is Noah jealous of Jax's attention from the girls or did he see something that scared him?

Noah wants revenge. For what, saving a bird? Making him look bad in front of a bunch of girls?

Noah also is good friends with three other boys who like to bully other students. Four against one are not great odds for Jax.

For tweens, having thirty-one chapters is perfect for young readers. Also unique about this series is that the books are boy-oriented. Most literature for this age-group is girl-based.

Lone Wolf is an excellent fantasy adventure for eight to twelve-year-olds. The story is appropriate for tweens with issues of bullying and an overlying theme of friendship. Learning the value of being one with nature and preserving the wildlife and their habitats is also a major component throughout this series.

While recommended for young readers, Lone Wolf has lessons for everyone of all ages.

Assault with a Deadly Lie: A Nick Hoffman Novel of Suspense
Lev Raphael
Terrace Books
c/o University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299302306, $26.95 HC, $12.96 Kindle, 176 pages,

"And how much longer would our relationship last with a minefield like that between us? If was as deadly as the death of a child, which many couples never survive. Tragedy didn't always unite complex-often it sundered them forever even if they went through the motions and pretended they could go on together."

Nick Hoffman enjoys his life as a professor at SUM, the State University of Michigan in the English department. His partner, Stefan Borowski also is living his dream as an author.

Their lives change when a SWAT team enters their home, arresting Stefan. The police are responding to an anonymous tip regarding a hostage. Armed with a warrant, while Stefan is being arrested and taken to the police station, Nick is handcuffed.

Fortunately, a neighbor happens to be passing by who is a criminal attorney. Is this a helpful kind acquaintance, an ambulance chaser, an opportunist, or does she is behind this attack? The lawyer is dressed well for the middle of the night.

Nick and Stefan have no idea why this is happening as they are not criminals or engage in unlawful activities.

The realism of being accused of a crime and the fall-out is, unfortunately, authentic. Just suspicion can cause others to believe inaccurately of your guilt, including employers who often search for a reason to terminate people.

The author, Lev Raphael have written twenty-four novels in various genres while currently teaching creative writing at Michigan State University. Apparently, he chooses his plots based on his setting and experiences.

Theses characters are realistic, flawed and up-to-date with American society being that the two men are partners. The intended audience is for adult readers due to the police activities. Similar events mentioned in this book have been part of our modern culture.

The book is from Nick's perception almost daily journaling the attack on their house and their reputations. From the feeling of paranoia to wanting to purchase a gun and learn how to use it while still curious about who and why this is happening are all relevant to both the story and living in a post 9/11 world.

What is unusual about Assault with a Deadly Lie is how it reveals how these attacks can harm relationships which are usually solid. Tragedies frequently break families apart as each person must individually process the accusation and resolution within themselves.

Assault with a Deadly Lie is a glimpse of many people's lives who are unjustifiably blamed or attacked. Personally, I loved reading this gem and am delighted to experience these feelings only through this book.

Linda Howard
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062418975, $26.99 HC, $12.99 Kindle, 384 pp,

"On a very basic level, fighting was what he knew, what he was, so he fought everything."

Morgan Yancy lives a life filled with adrenalin. He is a specially trained political operative sent throughout the world on undercover missions rescuing American citizens in dangerous situations.

Finally, he has some downtime and is looking forward to taking his boat, Shark, out onto the Potomac River for a relaxing fishing trip in the Chesapeake Bay, just down time from having a stressful job.

What Morgan didn't expect was to be attacked as he arrived back at his home later that evening. He saw a flash and a sledgehammer hitting his chest. Who? Why? He had no clue.

The next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital and being in intense pain. So much, that his entire body is exhausted, and he sleeps.

He is surprised to awaken to find his boss, Axel MacNamara in his room. He explained that a member of the Russian mob had shot him and that Morgan had killed him. Why? Who hired him?

Strangely, the GO-Team files have been hacked since the attempted murder of Morgan. He has given this agency his life.

Axel moved Morgan for his safety. With the files hacked and the attack, where can Morgan heal without the protection of a prison system?

Fortunately, Axel has an estranged step-sister who is in law enforcement. She also lives in a small isolated town in West Virginia. No one would easily find him here. He needs time to heal and regain his strength.

The race now begins. Will he recover? Will he be killed? Which will happen?

Isabeau Maran is the chief of police for Hamrickville, West Virginia. Bo has two part-time jobs and is also a technical writer with a demanding dog, Tricks.

Hamrickville is quiet town but does have its share of marital disputes needing law enforcement to keep the peace. Bo does the paperwork required by law while the other officers handle the town's disruptions.

So what happens when Morgan stays with Bo and Tricks?

The author, Linda Howard has written numerous award-winning and best-selling novels. She resides in Gadsden, Alabama.

Troublemaker has well-developed characters in a small town with its townsfolk possessing unique but caring idiosyncrasies that make you want to know these people. Between the residents of Hamrickville and the dog, Troublemaker combines humor into an intriguing romantic thriller.

When the Music's Over
Peter Robinson
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062394781, $25.99 HC, $12.99 Kindle, 421 pages,

'When the music's over, it's time to have some fun.'

For Detective Superintendent Banks, his new promotion is overwhelming. He is in charge of the Danny Caxton case.

Danny Caxton is now an elderly, retired celebrity who now faces accusations of rape from fifty-years-ago. Obviously, there is little evidence so till available from that time and fewer witnesses.

One victim, Linda Palmer has come forward. She has lived a fruitful and well-adjusted life, working as a poet who vividly remembers the event. As a young fourteen-year-old with dreams of stardom, this could be her chance to audition and to become a star. Caxton appealed to her ambition, but the cost was being a victim of sexual abuse. She was young and inexperienced. Caxton took advantage of her through his charismatic personality on television.

With the media appeal, Banks realizes that this is a delicate investigation requiring immense patience in building a case to prosecute Caxton.

On a rural road, a young woman is found, dead. Her body is naked and after being sexual with three different partners, and possibly thrown from a vehicle and then beaten and killed later.

Who is she? Why has no one identified her after days of her discovery?

These two cases consume Banks and those investigators working with him.

When the Music's Over is a realistic investigation involving many of the problems of today such as poverty, immigration, prejudice, racism, ignorance, and drug abuse. With no easy solutions, these problems frequently spill over into the criminal world.

The characters are well-developed in this tightly-written mystery. The pacing is superb running parallel to the revelations throughout the investigation.

Author Peter Robinson resides in both Toronto and England while writing his twenty-three Inspector Banks novels winning numerous international awards and honors including the Edgar Award, the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

When the Music's Over is for an adult audience. The book has descriptive events and tragedies not appropriate for children. These are events that are natural in the life of a law enforcement officer.

Teri Davis

Zulfiqar's Bookshelf

Orientalism in English Literature: Perception of Islam and Muslims
Abdur Raheem Kidwai
Viva Books Publisher
9788130926926, $TBA

Abdur Raheem Kidwai's Orientalism in English Literature is a gist of this long winding inter-cultural literary bond between the West and the East. Like the flashes of light in the dark clouds on the horizon, Kidwai also sites the glimpses of hope in this "unfortunate negative portrayal of Islam/Muslims in most of the English texts" (p.xv), something that Edward Said has missed. Like a true Muslim whom life is a gift from Allah, Kidwai promotes peace in the world of "pluralism" today. True to the definition of "Tradition" (TS Eliot), this work indicates the way the writer's today carry the past along in their bones.

The section "Articles and Notes" simply reiterates the general attitude of the Western writers towards Islam. Surely, the miraculous rise of Islam that rubs shoulders with the Western centres of culture and power after a crushing defeat of the Romans at Yarmouk, the Crusades and the establishment of the Ottomans in Turkey, were factors to send shudders across the spine of the Continent-wide Christendom.

Kidwai comments nearly on every author using Islam as a leitmotif. What Kidwai clarifies is that these distinguished men of letters, playwrights and poets did not bother to investigate the truth about Islam before putting their thoughts into words. Perhaps, sometimes and especially in those relatively rigid ages in the past robed more in the Ecclesiastical costume, it was wise and shrewd to think as they did because when in Rome, do as the Romans do. The irony is that neither Renaissance nor the age of Enlightenment ferrets out the image of the "inherited enemy" from the European psyche. Yet, the vulnerable ones from the Islamic world wait eagerly on the shores of the Mediterranean, for a breath of fresh air from Europe.

Apart from the Arabian Nights, most of the English literary figures find fault in everything Islamic. Samuel Johnson and others thought that the Muslim women "do not have souls" (p.15). Don't they know Scheherazade - the Nights' mega voice through whom filters this Proteus corpus of endless chains of tales? Kidwai also clarifies that "Eblis" a "tragic figure" according to Beckford, is not the Satan according to Islam. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) and William Wordsworth have a positive approach in comparison to Southey and Shelley. "The Arab's stone" (Wordsworth) is "the philosopher's stone" (p.27) according to the Islamic alchemy. Kidwai could have discussed Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman. Even Wordsworth is conscious of this "binary opposition" between the East and the West as "the daughter of the proud Sultan" falls madly in love with a "...genteel... generous Frank" (p.34-5) in the "Armenian Lady's Love." Lord Byron's opinion of Islam remains positive while Southey believes that the Islamic Paradise is the "Paradise of Sin" (p.51). Unfortunately, the tragic suffering of Leila according to Byron's Turkish Tales, suggests "the Hellenic values underlying European civilization" (p.65), and the Taqdeer of Leila, Zuleika and Gulnare pinpoints the three as the "victims of loveless marriage and injustice" (p.75). Gulnare rebels against the system, according to Byron.

What we need to remember is that these individual cases do not explain or define the lives of the rest of Islamic womanhood.

Faced with "new situations, challenges and issues" (p.80), the Britons change their attitude towards Islam as we read the poems of Emma Roberts and Sir William Jones' wife, Anna Maria Jones. This did not mean that all was well. Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835) poems paint a negative image of the Indians. James Bruce a character in Hemans "The Traveller at the Source of the Nile" - remains depressed during the course of this adventuresome journey as he admits

"With all that lay between/The Arab's lance, the desert's gloom/The whirling sands, the red simoom" (II. 40-42). Hemans reservations do not reflect fully the experiences of the rest of the explorers throughout history.

The Muslims use violence in order to keep women under duress as Jean P. Sassoon suggests in her novels, such as the Princess and Princess Sultana's Daughters. Obviously, this is not true. Jan M. Ziolkowski's "slim Bibliography" of Dante and Islam (p.110), says Kidwai, excludes some "insightful analysis" of the same theme by many a useful scholars, whom he mentions. Kidwai acknowledges that life in the harem was "abounding in domestic bliss" (p.111) as Farha Hiba Parvez's work on Lady Mary Montagu shows. Responding to Matthais Dickert's view that Muslims suffer from the stigma of "powerlessness" Kidwai argues that there is no place for "lassitude" (p.121) in Islam. In the next two chapters, we learn about Qaisra Shahraz's novels and her views on the Pakistan' women, who, she thinks become more self-assertive as they get education and earn for themselves. She is extremely good at portraying the "sensitive socio-cultural concerns of the present-day Muslim society" (p.147). Whereas Shahraz emboldens the feminine gender of Pakistan, Vishwapriya L. Iyengar in his short story "The Library Girl", comments Kidwai, "conjures up all the stereotypes about the Muslims", as the Orientalists do quite often. Balwant Gargi paints a negative image of the Muslims who live in India apprehending that they might create a new "Muqaddastan" - a Perso-Arabic synonym for "Pakistan", inside India. The next few pages are devoted to the correction of the errors in the works of Coleridge and Southey on their joint poem on the Prophet (pbuh), titled, "Mohammed" - and one of Byron's allusion to "Zuleika." Kidwai focusses on Tamerlane's tyrannical character as described by Byron in The Tale of Calil. True to his scholarly bent of mind, Kidwai links the title "Calil" with "Calil Basha" - the Grand Vizier of Sultan Mohamet II of Turkey. Because of his affable attitude towards the Christians, he was charged for being a "foster brother of the infidels" (p.191), just as Calil cuts a secret deal with the enemy of the ruler of Samarqand. The superstition (prevalent among the European Orientalists) that "a pigeon or dove" would pick peas or barley for the Prophet (pbuh), says Kidwai is altogether "fabricated" as usual. Similarly, Calil's wife Sudebah, Kidwai believes is named after a Persian queen Sudaveh, drawn from Firdausi's Shah Nameh. Furthermore, the famous Islamic Messiah is spelled as "Mahdi," not "Madhi." Kidwai also offers his insightful comments on Leigh Hunt's "Abraham and the Fire-Worshipper" and Poe's "Al-Aaraaf."

The section on "Book Reviews" sums up the richness of themes on the Oriental aspect of English Literature. We are already heading towards the global direction. One may glean a wealth of information from these twenty-six book reviews, such as, about Lady Montagu's "fine understanding" (p.212) of the Islamic culture; Mohammed Sharafuddin's scholarly portrayal of the Islamic themes in the works of the Romantics with particular emphasis on Moore's Lalla Rookh, which, among other merits, embodies and addresses the contemporary socio-cultural issues of "religious tyranny, fanaticism, secular autocracy, colonialism..."; Nigel Leask's work on Byron, Shelley and De Quincey's engagement with the themes related to Turkey, India, China and the Far East; Jalal Uddin Khan and Adrian E. Hare's well-informed editing of the articles written by numerous academics on the theme of "English and Islam: Creative Elements 96"; Liz Heron's translation of Alain Grosrichard's work on Montesquieu, Rousseau and Voltaire's approaches to the Islamic culture; Mohja Kahf's fascinating details of the image of Muslim women in the writings of Byron, Cervantes, Victor Hugo, S. Johnson, Marlowe, Montesquieu, J. Racine, Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft; Kamil Aydin's illustration of the European writers stereotypes about Islam, including a comment on the imperial strain that we find in the works of R. Kipling; Naji B.N Oueijan's well-researched examination of Byron's fascination with the Islamic culture of Turkey and its tolerance towards the feminine gender; Mushirul Hasan and M. Asaduddin's (eds) worth reading anthology of short stories on the plight of the Muslims of India; Paul and Jane Starkey's work that consists of seventeen papers read in a conference in Oxford in 1997 - a conference on "Travellers to Egypt and the Near East"; Muhammed Al-Dami's close reading of the texts of Carlyle, Cardinal Newman and Washington Irving; detailed survey of Robert Southey's poetry by Lynda Pratt with particular emphasis on his "dogmatic presuppositions" about the Prophet (pbuh) and the Islamic culture; Southey's "rigidity" of belief regarding the supremacy of the West over the East. Al-Dami, as Kidwai argues, presents Byron as far-more informed and sympathetic to the Orient; Ahmad Gunny in Perceptions of Islam in European Writings reiterates the European habit of labelling Islam as a religion of "hersey"; Matthew Dimmock studies the European views on the Turks in the plays of Thomas Kid, Marlowe and Shakespeare; Ros Ballaster (ed.) edits several relevant and valuable texts on the theme. According to Kidwai, Ballaster highlights "the significance of Galland's" translation of the Arabian Nights in moulding the Western perceptions of the Orient; Yuriko Yamanaka and Tetsuo Nishio (eds) view the Arabian Nights as a work of "vast spectacle, embracing a bewildering variety of cultures..." (p.251); Fredrick Quinn examines the way the West thinks and has been thinking about Islam across time. Quinn blames Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis and others for the "negative representation of Islam" (p.254). He refers to the US Congressman Keith Ellison, Prince Charles and Kenneth Cragg as the voices of moderation through whom the relations between the Muslims and Christians can improve; Ahmad Gunny's book on the Prophet (pbuh) offers an intelligent assessment of the attitude of the Protestants of England towards Islam. In this wide ranging work, Gunny discusses the writings of Aloys Sprenger, E. Renan, E. Muir and many others on the theme; Andrei Pippide examines the "neglected stereotypes" of the Europeans about the Turks, from 1453 through to 1618; Matthew Dimmock's detailed and insightful portrayal of the traditional prejudices about Islam prevalent among the Europeans; Nash, Koch and Hackett's (eds.) volume that yields "wide ranging insights" on the Muslims of Europe, and their awareness of culture and identity; Anne R. Richards and Iraj Omidvar's discursive survey of "the perceptions of the West, including occasional instances of misconceptions, by non-Western writers, especially travellers" (p.272). Kidwai refers to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's historic journey to the Great Britain and lauds his magnificent role in the service of his community; Sophia Rose Arjuna's book on the "monstrous portrayal of Muslims in the Medieval, Elizabethan and the Romantic periods in England, and in America" (p.275); Masood Ul Hassan's anthology of poems on Sira by the Europeans;, and finally, Jeffrey Einboden's work that digs "deep, for the first time, into the otherwise neglected S.T. Coleridge and Robert Southey's unfinished, collaborative project of composing a poem on the Prophet (pbuh)". Einboden also discusses the poems "in full or part" written on the Prophet (pbuh) by Dante, Lydgate, Voltaire and many others.

Dr Zulfiqar Ali

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

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