Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
|Home / Small
Small Press Bookwatch
Table of Contents
From Working to Wisdom
Joppa Flats Publishing
9780996003407, $16.95, 324pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For much of our lives we ask: Can we find meaning and happiness in work? When it comes to retirement we ask: Can we find meaning and happiness in retirement? In "From Working to Wisdom: The Adventures and Dreams of Older Americans", author Brendan Hare asked older Americans to discuss their feelings, fears, and hopes. He spoke with a remarkable group, which included a big-city mayor, an adventurer, a missionary, a Marine Corps general, athletes, philanthropists, factory workers, nurses, and teachers. "From Working to Wisdom" shows rather than tells how to age and live well. It is many things: a series of reflections on growing older, a store of insight and instruction, and a sustained argument for the power of choosing - no matter the circumstance - to live well. "From Working to Wisdom" is a testament to the richness of each person's life. On every page, the book challenges its readers to live with authenticity, imagination, and courage, and to begin doing so right now.
Critique: Based upon an extraordinary and unique research project, "From Working to Wisdom: The Adventures and Dreams of Older Americans" is an impressively informed and informative read. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, and thoroughly engaging from beginning to end, "From Working to Wisdom: The Adventures and Dreams of Older Americans" is especially recommended for academic and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "From Working to Wisdom: The Adventures and Dreams of Older Americans" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).
This Time It's Not Personal
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781502892591, $11.95, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: If you've ever wondered how you came to be peering out of your singular set of eyeballs, enjoying (or not) your unique existence, science has answers. Evidence stretches from the Big Bang to the here and now, and what it shows is that personal identity is a gene-induced sensation, an evolutionarily advantageous self-narrative, a fake ID. It's a misperception that Einstein labeled "an optical illusion of consciousness". Although we may not act like it, each of us is made of stardust. Supernovae blasted every one of our atoms into space, where some congealed into life-spawning planets. On Earth, brute matter stumbled over two critical thresholds, from inorganic gunk to organic goo, and from organic goo to living glop (you and I are proof enough). At that point, evolution via natural selection took over. Whenever organisms propagate in differential number based on expedient attributes, some will preponderate while others fade. What else could happen? A conga line? We're here because our ancestors were good at reproducing. An earthworm's sense of self registers slim to none, and though dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror they rarely write memoirs. Only among humans is self-fascination a number one pastime (social media is proof enough). "This Time It's NOT Personal: Why Science Says Get Over Yourself" lays out how and why that happened, where it might lead, what we can do about it, and why we should. It's a scientific self-help book packed with humor and scholarship.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "This Time It's NOT Personal: Why Science Says Get Over Yourself" is an inherently fascinating read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Especially recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in science in particular, and how human beings came about and our relative place in the universe, "This Time It's NOT Personal: Why Science Says Get Over Yourself" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "This Time It's NOT Personal: Why Science Says Get Over Yourself" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
Talk to God
The Experts In Publishing
9780989012201, $24.95, 312pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Talk To God" by DeiAmor Verus follows one man's journey toward redemption after the death of his wife. He is forced into an unlikely companionship with a man who proves to him that he is God. Their raw and often visceral time together, walking through the urban jungle, will exhaust your emotions, test your sensibility, and, with every jaw dropping revelation, demand you to rethink everything you believe in.
Critique: Written with an impressive candor and a genuine flair for the dramatic, "Talk To God" is a terrific read by a terrific author. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, this is a story that will linger in the reader's mind long after the volume is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Talk To God" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).
Dreams Of My Mothers
Joel L. Peterson
Huff Publishing Associates
9780989527781, $14.95 (PB), 344pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Dreams Of My Mothers: A Story Of Love Transcendent" is based on the true story of two mothers' transcendent love for the same boy. It is a love that reaches across the globe, propels them and him on a riveting and unimaginable path of transformation and triumph. It is a story that will speak to everyone who reads it; a story that tells us that love alone is not enough. Transcendent love is exceptionally rare, requiring sacrifice beyond normal boundaries, a faith beyond all doubts, and most of all, the courage to dream beyond all hope. "Dreams Of My Mothers: A Story Of Love Transcendent" is a vivid and gripping story of a biracial, impoverished boy who, through the love and courage of his mothers, overcomes questions of identity, race, physical handicaps and prejudice to become a new American success story. It touches on all the issues of who we are--as a people, as a nation, and as individuals. "Dreams Of My Mothers: A Story Of Love Transcendent" is a story particular to a few, but relevant to all. It is American, yet global. It is a story that feels intensely personal, yet universal in its themes and humanness. -- And the triumphs are real.
Critique: Compelling, candid, exceptionally well written, "Dreams Of My Mothers: A Story Of Love Transcendent" is a powerful read that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted that "Dreams Of My Mothers: A Story Of Love Transcendent" is also available in a hardcover edition (9780990807308, $24.95), and a Kindle edition ($8.92).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Girl From The North
Fourth Street Designs
9780692217986, $19.95, 520pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When a dark stranger, beautiful and haunting, approaches the flame-haired girl on a solitary stretch of beach, she senses that her life at the Healer's Academy is about to change. As his hands reach for her forehead, gliding across it with intimacy and purpose, suddenly, she remembers who he is, and who he has been. Yet, still, Bronwen wonders why she was chosen, and fears what the mysterious man's presence in her life will mean. Before he turns to leave, she asks why he has come and why it has been her he sought. His reply silences her. "Rexaria," he whispers, low and gruff, yet louder than the tumbling sea and the screaming gulls flying overhead. Somehow, Bronwen understands.
Critique: A truly exceptional entertainment, "The Girl From The North" is author Cat Bruno's impressive debut novel and clearly documents her storytelling abilities for deftly created characters and unexpected plot twists. Very highly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted that "The Girl From The North" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
The Jack of Souls
Stephen C. Merlino
Tortoise Rampant Press
9780986267413, $12.95 PB, 350pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Harric is an outcast rogue who must break a curse put on his fate or die on his next birthday. As the day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul. To survive, he'll need more than his usual tricks. He'll need help (and a lot of it) but on the kingdom's lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen's first female knight. The other is Sir Willard -- an ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court. With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long? And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her. Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes. Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he's ever loved.
Critique: The first volume in Stephen Merlino's 'The Unseen Moon' series, "The Jack of Souls" is a terrific read from beginning to end and clearly establishes Merlino as a master of the fantasy action/adventure genre. Highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Jack of Souls" is also available in a hardcover edition (9780986267406, $29.99) and a Kindle edition ($3.99).
A. J. York
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781497511798, $7.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 102pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Delilah Dusticle has special powers. She can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters, Delilah can run up walls, reaching places others just can't. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house, Delilah's unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day, when a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn. Reading this story is a truly magical and uplifting experience that should not be missed.
Critique: Delilah Dusticle blends whimsy and wonder into a story that will appeal to both young adults and the young at heart. It's a lively, ebullient adventure through and through! Also highly recommended is the spooky sequel, "Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure" (9781497512054, $8.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle), in which Delilah and the Dustbusters are invited to Transylvania, to cater for the Hallow Eve Ball - but events take a dramatic turn when Count Dracula has a unique request!
A. J. York
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781502973818, $7.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 92pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the picture postcard village of Blossom Brook, Eliza Bluebell arrives changing the lives of the locals forever. With the help of her playful shadow, Eliza transforms an empty shop on the High Street into the heart and soul of the village.
Critique: Quick, lively and entertaining reading specifically written for children ages 8 to 12, A. J. York's fantasy trilogy is very highly recommended for family, middle school and community library collections. Enthusiastic young readers will look forward to Delilah Dusticle's next thrilling adventures!
Acts of War
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781503228740, $8.99, 354pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It's August 1942 and London is in flames. Heinrich Himmler's Germany stands triumphant in the West, its "Most Dangerous Enemy" forced to the peace table by a hailstorm of nerve gas and incendiaries. With Adolf Hitler avenged and portions of the Royal Navy seized as war prizes, Nazi Germany casts its baleful gaze across the Atlantic towards an increasingly isolationist United States. With no causus belli, President Roosevelt must convince his fellow Americans that it is better to deal with a triumphant Germany now than to curse their children with the problem of a united, fascist Europe later. As Germany and Japan prepare to launch the next phase of the conflict, Fate forces normal men and women to make hard choices in hopes of securing a better future. For Adam Haynes, Londonfall means he must continue an odyssey that began in the skies over Spain. American naval officer Eric Cobb finds that neutrality is a far cry from safety. Finally, Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi must prepare himself and his men to fight a Pacific War that is far different than the surprise attack Imperial Japan had once planned but never executed. "Acts of War" is the first novel of the Usurper's War series, which charts a very different World War II. As young men and women are forced to answer their nation's call, the choices they make and risks they take will write a different song for the Greatest Generation.
Critique: With the launch of "Acts of War", author James Young shows himself to be a master of that science fiction sub-genre called 'Alternate History'. Exceptionally well written and deftly crafted into a compelling read from beginning to end, "Acts of War" is very highly recommended and will leave its fully entertained readers looking eagerly toward the next installment of this outstanding series. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Acts of War" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
The Biography Shelf
My Watery Self
Three Rooms Press
51 MacDougal Street, #290, New York, NY 10012
Over The River Public Relations
9781941110164, $15.95, 166pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "My Watery Self: Memoirs of a Marine Scientist", author/scientist Stephen Spotte pens a fascinating memoir that began in West Virginia coal camps, drifted through reckless bohemian times of countercultural indulgence in Beach Haven, New Jersey, and led to a career as a highly-respected marine biologist. Together, these stories form a view not just of one man's life, but that of a generation that often refused to take a direct path to the workplace, insisting instead on a winding unveiling of true self-realization, to achieve previously-unimagined outcomes. For Spotte, the key was water: His years of beach living led to a self-initiated study of literature and the sea. He eventually returned to college and received his training as a marine biologist, and discovered, through his singular voice, a wet and occasionally very weird perspective on the world. His writing is engrossing throughout, the stories he shares--such as his stint as curator of the New York Aquarium at Coney Island at the tail end of the hippie era--are compelling and thoroughly enjoyable as he elevates the people and situations he encounters to mythical levels, blending empirical observation with literary prose.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, "My Watery Self: Memoirs of a Marine Scientist" is an informative, candid, and personal account of an interesting life lived through interesting times. A thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking read, "My Watery Self: Memoirs of a Marine Scientist" is very highly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "My Watery Self: Memoirs of a Marine Scientist" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.94).
I'm A Different Type Of Apple
Kevin D. Elliott, Sr.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478747222, $8.95, 66pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "I'm A Different Type Of Apple" is a true story about a boy who stops following in his father's tragic footprints and starts walking in his own direction. People say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In other words, a child tends to act like his or her parents. This can be for good or for bad, depending on what kind of parents the child has. But Kevin D. Elliott, Sr. is a different type of apple. A lot of people thought that he was going to turn out to be this really bad menace to society, because in June of 1968 his father was convicted of murder. He had a date with the electric chair. Then in 1974, when Kevin was eleven, his elementary school principal told his mother that he was going to kill somebody one day. Even though he was only eleven years old, he knew that he had to change my life so that this would not be another bad case of "like father, like son." My father died in prison in 1984. After his funeral, an old family friend said to the boy, "Kevin, you've proven them all wrong. You are nothing like your father!" Kevin was proud to hear those words from her. He has worked hard at transforming himself into a productive citizen. Kevin has never been to prison. Always asked how he changed his life. "I'm A Different Type Of Apple" is the personal story of how Kevin changed into a brand new and better person!
Critique: Candid, immensely personal, exceptionally well written, and a quick and easy read, "I'm A Different Type Of Apple" is very highly recommended -- especially as an example to others how they too can change themselves and thereby improve their lives. It should be noted that "I'm A Different Type Of Apple" is also available in a Kindle edition ($0.99).
I Had Jelly on My Nose and A Hole in My Breeches
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781475102413, $15.95, 368pp, www.amazon.com
Sister Superior's Thumb, the Pope's Ring and the End of Childhood
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781490344485, $15.95, 312pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "I Had Jelly on My Nose and A Hole in My Breeches" is the first volume in an autobiographical account that tells about Robert McNally's early youth starting with the Great Depression till the end of WWII. It's the personal story of a modern day Huckleberry Finn who delighted in youthful romances and wild adventures. "Sister Superior's Thumb, the Pope's Ring and the End of Childhood " is the second volume begins when Robert was thirteen and still in pursuit of what he loved best, youthful romances and wild adventures. Before reaching eighteen he'd had his fifteen minutes of fame, but not before encountering a variety of characters with switchblades, fists and loaded revolvers. Helping a couple of runaways put the author in harm's way, but even worse was an encounter with Sister Superior which eventually led him to becoming an escape artist. He was caught up with gang wars, love affairs and a striptease card game that could knock your socks off. Although his school life was disturbing, he had the patience to go the distance. More troubling was his love life. He always wound up disappointed, but while missing each girl he had the good fortune to believe that time was on his side.
Critique: As detailed as they are candid, Robert McNally's two volume memoir is an inherently fascinating read that offers a kind of 'window in time' through the extraordinary lens of an extraordinary life. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "I Had Jelly on My Nose and A Hole in My Breeches" and "Sister Superior's Thumb, the Pope's Ring and the End of Childhood" is very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography collections. For person reading lists it should be noted that both volumes are available in Kindle editions ($3.99 each).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Gone In A Heartbeat
Neil Spector, M.D.
c/o Nautilus Publishing
426 South Lamar Blvd., Suite 16, Oxford, MS 38655
9781936946426, $14.95, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Neil Spector is one of the nation's top oncologists and man who seemingly led a charmed life. He was educated at prestigious universities, trained at top medical centers, and had married the woman of his dreams. It seemed too perfect. And it was. In 1994, it all came crashing down. He and his wife lost two unborn children. And a mysterious illness brought him to the brink of death. In his compelling memoir, "Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing", Dr. Spector describes in great detail how he was misdiagnosed and, despite being a medical insider, was often discounted by his fellow physicians. As he recounts his own unorthodox approach to medicine and physician/patient relationships, Dr. Spector encourages readers to never surrender their power to a third party. He tells of courageous patients who served as role models, he concedes that doctors do a disservice to patients when "we treat them like statistics," and he advocates for educated patients who can make informed decisions collaboratively and not simply follow instructions. In Dr. Spector's words: "To recognize that we are in control of our own bodies and destinies can be a powerful step toward true healing." Readers of "Gone in a Heartbeat" will never view the medical profession the same again.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing" is as informed and informative a read as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Especially recommended to non-specialist general readers seeking to obtain the best medical assistance possible from their physicians and other medical personnel, "Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing" should be a part of every community library collection. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).
The Fiction Shelf
Gift of Sydney
D. Manning Richards
734 Olde Greenwich Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
9780984541034, $13.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 360pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Gift of Sydney" by D. Manning Richards is an epic novel of the struggle to forge the multicultural, world-class city of Sydney, Australia. It is the second in the series of novels about the history of the city and Australia. In 1903, the wealthy and powerful Armstrongs are concerned about their "convict stain." The Fongs rail against the White Australia Policy that is driving Chinese out of Australia and preventing their relatives from immigrating. The Hudsons suffer under government programs that manage them as part of the vexing "Aboriginal problem." The country is rich from wool and gold but insecure. Its principal protector and trading partner, Britain, is 15,000 miles away. The three families all suffer in the world wars and the Great Depression, but experience a profound change when the racist White Australia Policy is finally rejected and a humanitarian policy opens the doors to accept the desperate Vietnamese boat people.
Critique: A truly gifted storyteller, Manning Richards' "Gift of Sydney" continues to display his impressive attention to historical detail, his ability to deftly create truly memorable characters embedded in a consistently gripping narrative. A totally satisfying entertainment from beginning to end, "Gift of Sydney" will leave enthusiastic readers looking forward to the third volume in this outstanding series. For those to whom "Gift of Sydney is their first introduction to Manning Richards, also highly recommended is the first title in the series, "Destiny in Sydney" (Kindle, $9.99).
Once again, Richards's storytelling is impeccably researched, fast paced, action-adventure driven, and full of family saga emotion and drama. His two extraordinary novels together have the authenticity and authority of the finest historical fiction that strike a resounding chord of hope for all humanity.
As The Poppies Bloomed
17662 Mahoney Place, Granada Hills, CA 91344
9780991124107, $14.99, 282pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It is 1913 and late summer in the Ottoman Empire. The sun rises, full and golden, atop a lush, centuries-old village tucked into the highlands where the red poppies bloom. Outside the village leader's home, the sound of voices carries past the grapevines to the lane where Anno, his youngest daughter slips out unseen. She heads to a secret meeting place. She forgets that enemies surround her village. She forgets that her father meets each day with trepidation. She knows only the love she has for Daron, who waits for her as she hastens to him, once again breaking the ancients rules of courtship
Critique: Exceptionally well written, "As The Poppies Bloomed" is a compelling read from first page to last and clearly documents author Maral Boyadjian as an especially gifted storyteller who will leave here readers looking eagerly toward her next novel. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections and personal recreational reading lists.
9780578143675, $17.95, http://tuleburgpress.com
Synopsis: A sex scandal, a pair of shootings, and internal racism complicate an obscure college team's quest for an epic bowl game victory. Black alumni leader Arthur Allenby and white counselor Malcolm Wade join forces to help the CSU team face these and other challenges while struggling to salvage their own embattled romances. "Desperation Passes" celebrates interracial friendships and emerging leadership roles for African-Americans but ridicules the hypocrisy of administrators who overpay opportunistic head coaches while ignoring the academic deficiencies and dismal graduation rates of student-athletes.
Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a truly memorable read from beginning to end, "Desperation Passes" is very highly recommended reading and establishes author Phil Hutcheon as an impressively talented novelist who will keep his thoroughly entertained readers looking eagerly toward his next book.
Compelled to Crave
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
The Barrett Company Communications
9781507649374, $9.99, 262pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the dark heat of a Louisiana night, handsome and magnetic Dristan St. Julien materialized at Madelyn Brantley's side and rescued her from an evil she never knew existed, and then disappeared just as abruptly. Suddenly, Madelyn's life becomes one big mystery as she tries to resist Dristan's charm and sensuality while desperately attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding him and his connection to the discovery of a young woman's centuries-old journal. As Madelyn probes deeper and deeper in her search for answers, she begins to realize that the superstitions and myths that run rampant, through her hometown of New Orleans, are not necessarily as mythical as she once thought. But nothing could prepare Madelyn for her biggest discovery: the provocative and ever-blurring lines between love, life and death.
Critique: The first volume of Erika Trevathan's paranormal romance series 'Compelled', "Compelled to Crave" is an impressively entertaining and engaging novel from beginning to end. Deftly crafted and memorable characters skillfully embedded into a complex plot of surprising twists and turns, "Compelled to Crave" showcases author Erika Trevathan's remarkably storytelling talent and is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Compelled to Crave" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
9780978730215, $19.99, 302pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Broken" by Tanille Edwards we meet Milan, a young supermodel with a disability from New York's Upper East Side, who falls deeply in love as she is coming of age. In this romantic drama, the emotional conflict of a girl's inner soul is revealed as she deals with a first love, the pain of loss, and the pleasures of stardom, all while coping with a lifelong secret. In the world of Milan, the people are real, the situations are rolling, and the truth is often concealed. "Broken" is a racy circle of sisterhood, laced with a touch of earthiness, glamour, wealth, and fame. A new Tanille album is included. Readers also get free music downloads of the new Pop R&B hits "All of Me" and "What's a Girl to Do" by Tanille, and more with purchase. Music download instructions are inside!
Critique: Milan's story will prompt the reader to think carefully about whether the grass really is greener on the other side of the supermodel fence. A wonderful novel with great music, by a talented writer and performer, "Broken" is emotionally moving and very highly recommended. "Broken" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.78).
Timmothy J. Holt
Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media
The Cadence Group
9780692350645, $16.99, 244pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the small Midwestern town of Dewers, amidst the turmoil of the 1960s, the casual conversations of five men lead to public sex in the courthouse restroom. Their arrest for public indecency takes the town on a journey through good and evil that will alter it, as well as the five men and their families. Through it all the town confirms its perseverance of community and ability to survive. Each man tells his version of the story that starts at Squeaky's bar with a planned weekend fishing trip. On that weekend the five men discover a shared sexual interest in each other. This newfound release triggers a need for more, leading to anonymous sex in the courthouse restroom. Their private encounters become public knowledge when the sheriff, acting on a tip, observes the behavior. All are arrested and accused of public indecency, a charge that could land them in jail or a psychiatric hospital. It will lead the town out of its ordinary world and through a land of forbidden, deviant sexual behavior. The ordeal brings the men, their families, and Dewers an armor of truth where acceptance can find a home. Not even Pastor Jones's sword of words will penetrate it. No one remains unchanged. The town finds it has the power to heal, to change, thanks to the power of forgiveness.
Critique: A sophisticated and erudite novel, "Square Affair" is highly recommended for mature readers and documents Timmothy J. Holt as an especially gifted author who has deftly crafted a complex and highly entertaining literary work that is as thoughtful as it is thought provoking. It should be noted that "Square Affair" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
No More Illusions
Blue Squirrel Press
P.O. Box 741, Roseville, CA 95661
9780991060122, $14.95, 408pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dylan Blake has had some losses in his life -- a brother who committed suicide, a father killed by a drunk driver, a marriage that didn't work. The scars have stayed with him. A rookie cop at age 41, promoted to Detective after 18 months, Blake unexpectedly finds his vacation interrupted and his romance tested when the Chief of Police calls and asks him to take a look at an accident scene along the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur. Blake's discovery pulls him back to his own painful memories and sets a chain of events in motion that unearth a family's secrets about murder and the way morality can be made to bend as the story moves back & forth between Big Sur, Northern California, and Utah. No serial killers or sociopaths just a puzzling mystery, pure and simple, but one packed dangerously full of morality and temptation.
Critique: A compelling and deftly crafted novel of mystery and suspense from first page to last, "No More Illusions" documents author Daniel Babka as having an impressive mastery of the genre. Highly recommended for library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No More Illusions" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).
Ghostly Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781505350067, $19.95, 140pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: 150 years after Sherlock Holmes was finally laid to rest by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the great detective appears in the pages of the "Ghostly Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" for the first time as a phantasmagoric. Unspeaking and unhearing, he is still quite capable of reasoning and making a point. Aided by his past sidekick, Dr. John Watson, the two seek the arcane reverie of retirement only to be stymied by forensic interventions. Some cases are ancient, dealing with the origins of Stonehenge, the Tower of London, stolen Crown Jewels, London Bridge, Jack the Ripper, the Bank of England. Others are as contemporary as the Nazi art swag, the 9/11 terrorist bombings. the Mona Lisa heist, and recent O.J. murders. Each individual story in this outstanding and original collection will bear self-satisfied re-telling for years to come. Each has a dash of humor. And each contains a confounded puzzlement of the kind that endeared Holmes to generations of readers down to this very day.
Critique: Imaginative, unique, exceptionally well written, the "Ghostly Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" will have special appeal for the legions of Sherlock Holmes fans, as well as dark fantasy enthusiasts. Certain to be an enduringly popular acquisition for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ghostly Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
Journey of an American Son
Black Rose Writing
9781612964461, $17.95, 322pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1920, the chance to travel to India on a business trip is a great boon for a smart and talented young man. Until he wakes up in a Calcutta jail, framed for murder. Benjamin Albert is a brilliant rising star at his firm, a war hero and a loving husband and father. But when his own government turns its back on him and leaves him to rot in prison 8,000 miles from home, his wife Catherine must take matters into her own hands and battle a ruthless and unscrupulous corporation abetted by a corrupt colonial government. Timeless issues like racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism and women's rights are exposed during Catherine's race to save her husband.
Critique: An exceptionally well written thriller, author John Hazen has a positive knack for deftly crafted plots replete with unexpected twists and surprising turns. A solid entertainment that grips the reader's total attention from beginning to end, "Journey of an American Son" is highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Journey of an American Son" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).
Diamonds and Pirates
Jerry Labriola, M.D.
PO Box 967, Middlebury, CT 06762
Synopsis: Treasure hunter Paul D'Arneau is hired to locate a diamond box and to determine its relationship to a cartel involved in prostitution, piracy, and international intrigue spread out over the Argentina, Gibraltar, and the United States. Unexpectedly, D'Arneau finds himself embroiled in trying to prevent a Japanese-led sarin attack that would destroy the world. The Kamakazis, among others, are constantly on his tail, requiring him to call upon his many ways of warding off assailants -- not the least of which is the martial arts form of jujitsu called Atemiwza. It's no understatement to say the odds of survival are very much against him and the stakes for the rest of the human race couldn't be higher!
Critique: A riveting read, "Diamonds and Pirates" by Jerry Labriola is impressively well written from beginning to end and continues to document Labriola as a major storytelling talent in general, and a complete master of the action/adventure mystery/suspense genre in particular. "Diamonds and Pirates" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections and personal reading lists. For those to whom "Diamonds and Pirates" is their first introduction to Jerry Labriola's brand of thriller, it should be noted that his has also authored nine previous and highly recommended novels: The Saga of Hodge; Murders at Hollings General; Murders at Brent Institute; The Maltese murders; The Strange Death of Napoleon Bonaparte; Scent of Danger; Object of Betrayal; Deadly Politics; and Global Shadows.
The Literary Studies Shelf
A Comic Vision Of Great Constancy
560 Herndon Parkway, #120, Herndon, VA 20170
Victor Gulotta Communications
9781620868379, $29.95, 473pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Since ancient times people have recognized a pattern of experience and a quality of mind that attend the survival and the prospering of individuals, their families, and their nations. They called the linking of these things "wisdom". In addition, the ancients observed that wisdom belongs to everyone born into this world as an innate potential. For that potential to be realized, though, they understood that human beings require a structure to help them recognize an experience as the voice of wisdom. In "A Comic Vision Of Great Constancy: Stories About Unlocking The Wisdom Of Everyman", educator Alan Griesinger deftly argues that comedy provides that structure and embodies that voice. There's always a need for this. As Homer did before them, Chaucer and Shakespeare have constructed a poetic vehicle that functions like an ark for transporting its living cargo through perilous floods, and it s as well-built and seaworthy as any we are likely to know.
Critique: After receiving an MA in English from the University of Oregon, Alan Griesinger taught junior and senior high school students at Naples Central School in Naples, New York for twenty eight years. "A Comic Vision Of Great Constancy: Stories About Unlocking The Wisdom Of Everyman" derives from the advanced placement literature course he taught to seniors that employed this theme as an informing principle. Exceptionally well written and presented, "A Comic Vision Of Great Constancy: Stories About Unlocking The Wisdom Of Everyman" is comprised of thirteen chapters organized into two major sections: The Knight's Tale and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Enhanced with an informative Afterword, a Bibliography, and Endnotes, "A Comic Vision Of Great Constancy: Stories About Unlocking The Wisdom Of Everyman" is highly recommended for community and academic library Philosophical and Literary Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
The Philosophy Shelf
Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms
Arthur D. Schwartz
P.O. Box 398095, Cambridge, MA 02139
9780989467148, $18.95, 408pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Ethics has long been burdened with a certain perplexity: Is self-interest or altruism the primary ethical imperative? When either perspective is blind to the legitimate interests of the other viewpoint, self-negating exceptions invariably emerge. "Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms" presents an ethical approach designed to encourage thinking from multiple perspectives that go beyond ideology and dogma. By so doing author Arthur D. Schwartz develops for the reader an understanding of ethics and morality that transcends rigid or inapplicable rules by returning to the principle of universal love. The result is an ethical framework for unconventional ideas and research that challenges traditional beliefs that are vested in ideological, financial and political interests that--through various mechanisms, seek to maintain the status quo. The philosophical principles developed in "Ethical Empowerment" make it possible to examine difficult moral conundrums and seemingly intractable social, economic and political issues from new perspectives. The limitations of classical ethics have never been more apparent than in today's dysfunctional world. Filled with controversial ideas, "Ethical Empowerment" is designed to engage the reader and spark healthy debate. Among the many issues that are discussed and critiqued--in light of the ethical theory developed, are the current monetary and economic systems, the meaning of social entitlements, the dubious virtue of political parties, and the potential abuse of scientific paradigms. Also discussed are the grounds for belief or disbelief in various claims concerning the suppression of technology and invention, and conspiracy theories. From the perspective of an ethics that is in harmony with the basic essence of morality, a long-term view of a peaceful and flourishing world is not merely possible but may, with time, become inevitable.
Critique: Ethics is the branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. As a branch of philosophy, ethics investigates the questions "What is the best way for people to live?" and "What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?" In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual enquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory. Arthur D. Schartz's "Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms" is exceptionally well written, reasoned, organized and presented, making it an impressive and highly recommended addition to academic library Philosophical Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Ethical Empowerment: Virtue Beyond the Paradigms" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).
The Art Shelf
Raymundo Gonzalez: Magical Realism in Mexico
Marion Oettinger, et al.
5150 Broadway, #466, San Antonio, TX 78209
9780981980072, $55.00, 144pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Raymundo Gonzalez paints what he sees: a mix of Spanish and Indian cultures, fiestas, traditions, myths, and colors. His art captures these cultural images beautifully, giving the viewer a taste of both reality and fantasy. Gonzalez depicts the real side of Mexican culture with energy and life, yet manages to keep from stifling the viewer s own imagination. "Raymundo Gonzalez: Magical Realism in Mexico" is certainly a bright and rich addition to anyone's home and will carry the hearts and minds of viewers into a playful and yet meaningful journey through a magical Mexico. There are over 100 colorful photographs of Gonzalez's paintings.
Critique: Flawlessly reproduced full color images of original art work, "Raymundo Gonzalez: Magical Realism in Mexico" is a beautiful compendium for browsing and a fascinating introduction to a major artistic talent. Very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Art Studies reference collections.
The Metaphysical Studies Shelf
A Flight Without Wings
Brian A. McLaughlin
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Word Slinger Publicity
9781503524545, $15.99 (PB), 84pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "A Flight Without Wings: My Experience with Heaven" describes Brian McLaughlin's journey into Heaven and subsequent return to life, all as a result of massive head trauma sustained while vacationing in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 21 years ago, on 9/11/1993. Mclaughlin describe visions as well as deep feelings that moved him to the core of his being. "A Flight Without Wings: My Experience with Heaven" briefly give some background into facets of McLaughlin's life and experiences before and after that "accident" that relate somehow to the understanding and clarity that this event has brought him and how he continue to discover the benefits of passing over to the "other side" "A Flight Without Wings: My Experience with Heaven" was written in the hope would be that McLaughlin's words and experience with an afterlife will comfort those people who struggle with a fear and concern, either for themselves or someone close to them that has made this journey on their own.
Critique: A fascinating read that is both inspired and inspiring, "A Flight Without Wings: My Experience with Heaven" will prove to be an enduringly valued addition to personal and community library Metaphysical Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "A Flight Without Wings: My Experience with Heaven" is also available in a hardcover edition (9781503524538, $24.99) and a Kindle edition ($3.99).
The Political Science Shelf
Saving America Now, expanded edition
4301 SW 51st, #121, Amarillo, TX 79109-6159
9781502893178, $9.99, 178pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: An expanded and updated edition of The Buffet Syndrome, reveals how the national condition has greatly worsened in only seven years, with America in a crisis of huge proportions, and what must be done about it now! "Saving America Now" covers diverse situations, diverse politics, volatile economics, established trends, and above all else, the very real danger that America and its people are facing. "Saving America Now" contends that the only thing that can save this nation from a total collapse is creating a group of Democratic members of the House of Representatives and a group of Democratic members of the United States Senate that form together and use their unique forum positions to tell the people of America where this nation stands financially. Unless action is taken now to change the course of what our nation is inevitably facing, the total collapse of a nation is an inevitable event.
Critique: "Saving America Now: The Buffet Syndrome Expanded Edition" is a compelling and articulate read that is highly recommended, indeed essential, for everyone and anyone who is concerned about the widening gap between the 1% and the 99%, who is alarmed by the onset of a second new age of Robber Barron capitalism and its corruptive impact on the American political system -- a corrosion aided and facilitated by the Supreme Court and its 'Citizens United' decision.
The American History Shelf
My Own Pioneers: 3 volumes
Kathryn J. Kappler
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
Volume I: Pioneering the Borders: The New Saints, 1830-1847
9781478737001, $24.95, 404pp, www.amazon.com
Volume II, Pioneer the West/Defending Zion 1847-1880
9781478737018, $24.95, 426pp, www.amazon.com
Volume III, The Last Pioneers/Refuge in Mexico 1876-1918
9781478737025, $25.95, 516pp, www.amazon.com
Readers of Kathryn J. Kappler's three volume "My Own Pioneers" series will embark on an extraordinary journey as they are introduced to one family through the Mormon pioneer era-stories that follow four generations and several of the author's family lines as they and their fellow pioneers help shape the early history of the Mormon Church, the American West, and even Mexico. This memorable journey is the culmination of fifteen years of painstaking research as the author carefully reconstructs the pioneer struggles from before 1830 to 1918 using information from family journals, memoirs, histories and letters. Through this vivid true account, the author illuminates, in a highly readable way, the experiences of family members as they struggled on, through sacrifice, persecution and desperate circumstances, to open up the hostile Western deserts and to establish a new religion. My Own Pioneers (in three volumes) paints an authentic picture, rich in detail and emotion, of the early Latter-day Saints who sacrificed everything for their new faith. Enhanced with a profusion of period photographic illustrations, "My Own Pioneers" is impressively well written, exceptionally well researched and organized, and very well presented with an immense value for both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Mormon history. An extraordinary body of work, the three volume "My Own Pioneers" series is a critically important addition to academic library American History collections in general, and Mormon History Studies supplement reading lists in particular.
The Sports Shelf
Play Golf Better Faster
Building Your Best
9780990452621, $19.95, 212pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Play Golf Better Faster: The Classic Guide to Optimizing Your Performance and Building Your Best Fast" is a workbook that can take anyone's golf game to the next level of mastery. It is full of practical steps to dramatically improve player performance. If a golfer has been overwhelmed by the mass information the golf industry offers, "Play Golf Better Faster" will simplify it all. If golfers have spent a lot of time and money on equipment and lessons, or have the possibility of doing so, "Play Golf Better Faster" teaches them to start spending time on themselves and their golf game instead. "Play Golf Better Faster" guides players to master their game -- simply and effectively. Golfers will learn how to master thinking more usefully, how to practice the right way, and how to focus on every single shot to lower their score while they play. "Play Golf Better Faster" is a must-read for anyone who plays golf at any level; for the novice with no bad habits to change, for the experienced player to reach a higher level, and for everyone in between.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Play Golf Better Faster: The Classic Guide to Optimizing Your Performance and Building Your Best Fast" is unusually and effectively 'user friendly' and should be a part of every personal, professional, academic, and community library Golfing instructional reference collection. For personal study lists it should be noted that "Play Golf Better Faster: The Classic Guide to Optimizing Your Performance and Building Your Best Fast" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Christian Studies Shelf
2301 Lucien Way, Suite 415, Maitland, FL 32751
9781628391701, $15.49, 210pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: If you want to read Scripture daily, but feel overwhelmed, or simply do not know where to start; if you think you just do not have time to add one more thing to your schedule; well, Christine Digiacomo's "Morning Briefings" are for you! Drawing from Paul's writings of Philippians and Colossians, Christine offers relevant teaching and application on a daily basis. Having taught the Bible in various settings over a span of two decades, Christine pulls from her life in the corporate world, family life (as a mother of four), teaching and mentoring high school students and combines it with insightful writing that has gone out to 117 countries in the past five years. Peek, read, smile, think and be challenged by these daily forays into God's Word. You will find them an invaluable way to start your day!
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Morning Briefings" is an ideal way to start every day and will prove to be one of those Christian Studies reference books that will be browsed through and re-read time after time after time. Very highly recommended for church and community library 'Christian Studies' collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "Morning Briefings" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
Site design by Williams Writing, Editing &