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Tales of the Whirling Rainbow
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781981222940, $7.99, PB, 68pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Myths & Mysteries for Our Times" is veteran journalist's Steven McFadden's account of some of the key myths and mysteries of the Americas, and an electrifying exploration of how those myths are resounding in real time.
Drawn from sources both ancient and modern, "Tales of the Whirling Rainbow" conveys adroit insights into key facets of North America's unfolding saga. Learning to respect these knowings is fundamental to our spiritual growth and progress on the land going forward in time.
In the pages of "Tales of the Whirling Rainbow", McFadden tells these stories in plain, precise language, creating a quick but absorbing investigation into a deeply rooted mythos that offers keys to healing.
Critique: Absorbing, engaging, thoughtful, thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Myths & Mysteries for Our Times" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections. It should be noted that "Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Myths & Mysteries for Our Times" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Song of Sadie Sparrow
9781941555354 $15.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: For many, a nursing home is the despised last stop before heading out into the Great Beyond. Not so for the heroines of The Song of Sadie Sparrow - three very different women whose lives intersect in a warm and endlessly engaging facility called The Hickories.
Sadie Sparrow, Meg Vogel and Elise Chapelle represent different generations. They have experienced different sorrows and entertain different hopes. They even adhere to different worldviews, from devoutly Christian to unapologetically atheist. Yet over the course of a single year, they forge unlikely bonds that impact each other's lives in the here and now - and perhaps for all eternity.
A beautifully written story of friendship set against the backdrop of life's twilight years, The Song of Sadie Sparrow explores contrasting views of purpose and pardon, life and afterlife - and faith's role in shaping those views, now and forevermore.
Critique: Set in a nursing home known as The Hickories, The Song of Sadie Sparrow is an extraordinary novel of true friends. Three women from three generations cross paths at The Hickories; they have different views on religion, life, and afterlife, but the bonds they share are destined to transform each of them. Heartwarming, thought-provoking, and beautiful, The Song of Sadie Sparrow is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Song of Sadie Sparrow is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
The Restaurant Diet
Mango Publishing Group
9781633537026, $26.95, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight" by author and successful dieter Fred Bollaci -- a man who lost 150 pounds (from 330) -- offers a diet plan that takes the pressure off of dieters who love to eat out. In "The Restaurant Diet", Bollaci draws upon his own experience and hard won expertise to: Teaches readers how to read a menu; Explain how to ask important questions of the restaurant staff; Give guidance on how to have food customized to your dietary needs; Provide insights into converting this into healthy eating at home.
Bollaci reveals that secret to weight control while dining out is not about preparing "clean" food at home, or going "whole" and excluding wheat, sugar, and dairy. Nor is it about counting calories or grams. It's about WHY one overeats in the first place.
In "The Restaurant Diet" Bollaci reveals his personal story of growing up in an Italian family, and how his parents' divorce led to his eating compulsions. He tried every fad diet, but Bollaci was searching for a lasting solution. With the help of his doctor, a nutritionist, a trainer, and a psychologist, he was able to devise a four-phase diet and exercise plan. Bollaci proves that if he can do it, anyone can. He has kept the weight off for six years, running four marathons and today he looks great, feels great, and can enjoy great food and drink wherever he is.
A do-it-yourself instructional guide to guilt-free restaurant dining, "The Restaurant Diet" feature recipes from America's most noted restaurant chefs, as well as original recipes from Bollaci's own kitchen.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presented, real world practical and unreservedly recommended to anyone struggling with weight issues while dining out, "The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight" is an especially and unreservedly recommended as a life-changing read. While very highly recommended for community library Health/Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Restaurant Diet" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).
Knee Replacement Advice, Checklists, and Journal
Gettier Group LLC
9780986088278, $11.99, PB, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sometimes it seems that everybody is having knee replacement surgery these days. Ask anyone who's had the surgery how miraculous its results are -- no more of the excruciating pain and limited mobility of osteoarthritis. The only problem was that surgery and recovery could be incredibly painful.
"Knee Replacement Advice, Checklists, and Journal--5 Steps for Successful Recovery Even If You Have Complications" by journalist Alexis Dupree (who was 61 when she found herself joining the knee replacement community) explains the methods used by someone who's had many different surgeries, including knee replacement -- and uses to prepare for and recover from surgeries successfully.
The advice portion of "Knee Replacement Advice, Checklists, and Journal", is deliberately short and concise, focusing on what patients need to know for preparing for knee replacement surgery and managing their recovery. Not being a medical professional, Dupree does not provide information about osteoarthritis or the structure of the knee. Rather she discusses topics she herself has found helpful in making surgeries, specifically knee replacement surgery, go well.
"Knee Replacement Advice, Checklists, and Journal" also explains the benefits of adopting the right attitude toward surgery and provides pragmatic planning information for both the surgery and recovery. It also answers frequently asked questions about the surgery.
Included are detailed checklists for researching doctors; rehabilitation centers (if needed); physical therapy centers; insurance information; and preparation for surgery, which includes setting up one's home, choosing the right attire for the hospital, and acquiring the necessary equipment or other accessories before the surgery.
Critique: A recovery journal allows readers to keep a day-to-day journal of their recovery, "Knee Replacement Advice, Checklists, and Journal" is a unique, 'real world practical', impressively informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' instructional reference book that is unreservedly recommended for anyone contemplating knee surgery and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Health/Medicine collections.
Train Your Fascia
Divo Mueller & Karin Hertzer
Meyer & Meyer Sport
9781782551171, $16.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Fascia are a building network in our body that gives us support, structure, and form. Whether a thigh looks tightly stretched or rather like jelly basically depends on the tone of the fibrous connective tissue the fascia which surrounds it.
Therefore, we must train fascia in addition to muscles. Only then do we have a well-formed and firm body shape, and training fascia is the only consistent way to get rid of cellulite, bat wings, and a flabby bottom.
Not only does training your fascia ensure a fit body, but it also enables you to move with juvenile elasticity, easily and painlessly.
In cooperation with Dr. Robert Schleip, a renowned researcher of fascia, Divo Mueller has developed new exercises for people who have rather weak connective tissue. Her new full-body program is presented in the pages of "Train Your Fascia, Tone Your Body", a clearly illustrated guide for physiotherapists, movement trainers, Pilates, yoga and fitness coaches.
Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Train Your Fascia, Tone Your Body" is a 'real world practical' approach to maximum physical health and body shaping through a specific exercise regime. Thorough 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, ""Train Your Fascia, Tone Your Body" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Health & Medicine instructional reference collections.
The Pets/Wildlife Shelf
A Last Wild Place
9781849953139, $24.95, PB, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The late Mike Tomkies (25 May 1928 - 6 October 2016) was an acclaimed naturalist, writer and film-maker and lived for 35 years in remote and wild places in the Scottish Highlands, Canada and Spain. In 1988 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
In this posthumously published study, "A Last Wild Place", he presents a truly remarkable picture of the whole cycle of nature around him, in a harsh and testing environment of unrivaled beauty. Filling these pages are informative commentaries and beautiful photos of exotic wild orchids, the roar of rutting stags, a pair of dragonflies mating, the flight of the redwing, the territorial movements of foxes, otters and badgers, an oak tree being torn apart by hurricane-force gales. Nothing seems to escape his penetrating eye, to which the selection of his photographs in this volume (some of which reveal little-known aspects of animal behavior) immediately testifies.
Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "A Last Wild Place" is a simply fascinating and engaging read from cover to cover and an enduring testimonial to a life time of observation and study of the natural world. While certain to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Nature & Wildlife collections, as well as highly recommended for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
The Jobs/Careers Shelf
What a Security Guard Needs to Know for Best Practices
Leroy Edmund Registe
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480946835, $11.00, PB, 68pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A security guard (also known as a security officer or protective agent) is a person employed by a public or private party to protect the employing party's assets (property, people, equipment, money, etc.) from a variety of hazards (such as waste, damaged property, unsafe worker behavior, criminal activity such as theft, etc.) by using preventative measures.
Security guards do this by maintaining a high-visibility presence to deter illegal and inappropriate actions, looking (either directly, through patrols, or indirectly, by monitoring alarm systems or video surveillance cameras) for signs of crime or other hazards (such as a fire), taking action to minimize damage (such as warning and escorting trespassers off property), and reporting any incidents to their clients and emergency services (such as the police or paramedics), as appropriate.
Security officers are generally uniformed to represent their lawful authority to protect private property. Security guards are generally governed by legal regulations, which set out the requirements for eligibility (e.g., a criminal record check) and the permitted authorities of a security guard in a given jurisdiction. The authorities permitted to security guards vary by country and subnational jurisdiction. Security officers are hired by a range of organizations, including businesses, government departments and agencies and not-for-profit organizations (e.g., churches and charitable organizations).
Leroy Edmund Registe was a former security guard at Forham University and later at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, and in 1993 received an associate degree in Security Management from New York Interboro College. In "What a Security Guard Needs to Know for Best Practices" he draws upon his experience and expertise to create a succinct, practical, comprehensive security guard instructional guide and manual.
Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "What a Security Guard Needs to Know for Best Practices" is especially and unreservedly recommended community, corporate, and academic library collections, as well as the personal reading lists of anyone employed or seeking employment as a security guard.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Gods of Dark Swell: Champions of the Realm
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524518660, $48.38, HC, 490pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A new world has been created - the world of Dark Swell. Six strangers have been chosen; brought together from different worlds to compete in a game. Each will be given a realm; a land to nurture and make strong for their chosen race. A realm from which they must eventually choose their Champion. They are the Gods of Dark Swell and they are playing for a prize beyond imagining, in a world brimming with magic. Yet none of them know what the prize will be; and they have no idea what they must do to win it.
Critique: The first volume of author David Dowell's new series, "The Gods of Dark Swell: Champions of the Realm" is an singularly extraordinary, deftly crafted, impressively entertaining read from cover to cover, While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Gods of Dark Swell: Champions of the Realm" is also available in a paperback edition (9781524518653, $19.17) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
30th Century: Escape
Mark Kingston Levin
Quantum Group Investments, LLC
9780998918303, $14.99, PB, 328pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Captain Jennifer Hero is leading a task force from the thirtieth century on a one-way trip to the Diversion Point. Their goal is to plant a virus that will disrupt the genetic tendency toward sociopathy among the Syndos. After an intense attack on their remote South Pacific island base, Jennifer sends her colleagues back 300 years. But she does not go with them, opting instead to travel alone back to 2015 to grieve the loss of the love of her life, the time machine's inventor, and to find herself.
After months spent alone on the radioactive atoll of Moruroa, Jennifer is rescued by an amphibious aircraft, piloted by a marine biologist and his crew. History sources she studied left out much about twenty-first century culture, causing culture shock and conflicts.
She struggles to hide her superior intellect and nanotech-enhanced abilities. Among these ordinary humans she is as alien as the Syndos are in her native century. Her attitude toward sex diverges totally from theirs, for a start. So much so, it raises a question mark over whether she can even survive in 2015. contains graphic, multi-partner sex with M/F and F/F pairings
Which side will she support? The side of the Syndos, genetically-altered humans, or the side of the Naturals?
Critique: "30th Century: Escape" is science fiction at its imaginative and extrapolated social issues best. Deftly written by a master of the genre, Mark Kingston Levin's "30th Century: Escape" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library science fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "30th Century: Escape" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far
Mark W. Sasse
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781979948289, $13.99, PB, 322pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: If she wanted help changing the world for one forgotten child, she chose the wrong man. Seventy-two-year-old Francis Frick would scorn his own family to close another deal. But Bee doesn't see the world like you or me. She is an optimist, searching for potential where none exists, and so she hovers above Frick's bed every night, eating pomegranates and waiting for his eyes to open to the possibilities. One night, it finally happens. A rogue droplet of juice slips through her fingers and hits the sleeping Manhattan businessman on the forehead, thrusting him on a series of baffling adventures to some of the twentieth century's most brutal regimes -- all to help Bee save a forgotten child of history. "A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far" is the first volume of author Mark W. Sasse's "The Forgotten Child Trilogy", and is a one-of-a-kind adventure that mixes time travel, magical realism, and historical fiction into a contemporary story about an old man, his estranged daughter, and a tiny flying person in a white robe, who chooses to believe that anything can happen with enough prodding and an endless supply of pomegranates.
Critique: A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling, "A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Power of the U'Tanse
Wire Rim Books
9781935236696, $14.99, PB, 266pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The only other race that had rebelled against the Cerik, the Delense, had been totally exterminated, but they had left a legacy in the form of their technology and a hydroelectric plant that had allowed the Free U'tanse to live and flourish. But when it was damaged, Joshua's people were without a source of energy to run their vehicles and filter their air.
There was only one way to get the power they needed to survive -- take it from the Cerik. But how could they do that without bringing down the wrath of the planet's top predators?
"Power of the U'Tanse" is part of science fiction author Henry Melton's generation-spanning Project Saga which examines humanity's destiny, both in the Earth Branch where a nearby supernova destroyed our civilization and we were forced to rebuild with powerful new technologies, and in the U'tanse Branch where a psychically-gifted splinter of humanity, taken away as slaves, make their way on a world that can never be their own.
Critique: Written by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling and a master of the science fiction genre, "Power of the U'Tanse" is an extraordinarily imaginative and entertaining read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community library science fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "Power of the U'Tanse" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Time Is Irreverent
Encante Press LLC
9780977859948, $14.95, PB, 244pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What if you could make a change to history that would eliminate the Spanish Inquisition, American slavery, World War II, global warming, and an egomaniacal US president who thought he was smart enough to drop nuclear bombs here and there without negative consequences? What if that change also made the United States and 5 billion people poof from existence? Would you do it?
When alien time travel specialists, the Krichards, learn of President Handley's game of dodge the mushroom cloud, they race to Earth to investigate. For them, the question of whether it's worth it to change history is easy to answer, but they will only proceed if the human they deem best qualified to represent Earth agrees to make the change. Erasing Handley's nuclear annihilation would require a quick jump to AD 31 to make a simple correction to the past. If the Krichards had selected a brilliant scientist or an elite athlete for the task, Earth might be in good hands. Instead they selected Marty Mann, a mildly successful travel writer, whose only superpower is not taking life too seriously. What could possibly go wrong?
Spanning from the Cretaceous period to 2056, "Time is Irreverent", features unpredictable, unexpected plot twists and turns, colorful aliens, huge dinosaurs, a smoking hot lesbian from the future, and even a cameo from Jesus Christ himself!
Critique: Ironic, original, hysterically funny, deftly crafted, and an impressively entertaining read from first page to last, "Time Is Irreverent" by Marty Essen is an especially and unreserved recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "Time Is Irreverent" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Walk In The Fire
9781943818839, $26.00, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Life hasn't gotten any easier for Judah Cannon. He may have survived the fiery showdown between his father, the tyrannical Pentecostal preacher Sister Tulah, and the Scorpions outlaw motorcycle club, but now Judah and Ramey, the love of his life turned partner in crime, are facing new and more dangerous adversaries. It will take all of their cunning and courage, their faith in one another and some unexpected help to give them even a shot of making it out alive.
In attempting to extricate the Cannon family from the crime ring they are known and feared for, Judah finds himself in the sights of Everett Weaver, a cold blooded killer and drug runner in Daytona Beach who shouldn't be underestimated and doesn't take no for an answer. Threatened by Weaver, saddled with guilt from his recovering, but now pill-popping, younger brother Benji and pressured to use his head and do the right thing by Ramey, Judah quickly arrives at a breaking point and things soon begin to go south.
Meanwhile, Special Agent Clive Grant, who has been unwillingly sent down from ATF headquarters in Atlanta, arrives in town to investigate the fire at Sister Tulah's church. Clive, looking to prove himself, becomes obsessed with Tulah and her iron grip on Bradford County and is determined to take her down. His search leads him to Judah's door and soon the Cannons are caught up in an increasingly tangled web of violence, lies and retribution spanning both sides of the law. Backed into a corner, but desperate to protect his family, Judah finds himself walking a dangerous path that might cost him everything or might win him it all, if only he can walk through the fire and come out on the other side.
Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting novel by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven suspense replete with unexpected twists and turns, "Walk In The Fire" by Steph Post is an especially an unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Walk In The Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781979965767, $11.00, PB, 290pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Nothing is as it seems when grad student Angeline Lisbon and archaeologist Jake Lalonde join forces with Interpol agent Thomas Chancellor to investigate the disappearance of a museum curator from the quiet tourist village of Avebury. A woman vanishes. Her face appears in one of the standing stones. And is replaced by the head of a raven. Are the answers hidden in the legends of the ancient stone circle? Or is there a more logical answer to the mystery?
From the moment the prim and proper British curator of the Alexander Keiller Museum disappears, and her face emerges in one of the standing stones of Avebury's ancient stone temple, pragmatic, half-Haida archaeologist Jake Lalonde's life takes a bizarre turn. Engaged to one gorgeous woman, but secretly in love with another, Jake finds himself involved in the complicated lives of four individuals: his fiancee, an ambitious manipulator who came into his life out of nowhere, an ex Interpol agent who insists he's a ghost, a beautiful grad student who believes she was engaged to him in a past life, and a celebrity author who claims she can time travel.
As the web of deceit tightens around Jake his calm, rational, academic world is about to implode. He had come to England to study archaeological phenomena concerning the images of ravens in Bronze Age megaliths only to have his sanity challenged, the British government after him for a secret he does not possess, and ultimately to be lured into a trap of supernatural proportions.
Critique: The fifth book in author Deborah Cannon's outstanding 'Raven Chronicles' series, "Raven Moon" is another deftly crafted, unfailingly entertaining, and inherently fascinating novel that will hold the reader's riveted attention from beginning to end. Replete with unexpected plot twists and turns, "Raven Moon" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Raven Moon" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Everything Solid has a Shadow
9781937484576, $15.95, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Charlie Alessandro is a musician and a marketing executive who ought to be happily satisfied. He is successful in his career, involved with a sleek and confident woman, and enjoying a fulfilling creative outlet with his guitar. Yet his seemingly complete life is troubled at every turn by something dark that happened to him when he was very young. Charlie's investigation of that long-ago occurrence and the mysterious apparition of a woman he barely knows who invades his brain as he sleeps.
Critique: Charlie's journey into these two mysteries, his relationship with three beautiful young women in his life, and the very surprising resolution offers a unique, original, and consistently entertaining and showcases author Michael Antman's genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. Critique: Deftly written by Michael Antman, "Everything Solid has a Shadow" is an intricately plotted and thoroughly reader engaging novel that is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Everything Solid has a Shadow" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).
The Snow Globe
Atticus Creative, Inc.
9780997897487, $13.99, PB, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the four years since breaking off her engagement, Maggie Kincaid has fled from city to city, seeking to escape her ex-fiance Michael's relentless pursuit. Abandoned by a criminal justice system that cannot seem to protect her despite multiple restraining orders, she is ready to give up. But it isn't that easy. Maggie's dead grandmother keeps haunting her dreams, warning her in cryptic phrases of the future. Or is it the past? Determined to end her ordeal one way or another, Maggie confronts Michael, and he disappears, seeming to have tired of the chase. Instead, the hunter has decided to make himself the hunted, in a way that no one could have imagined. Knowing both the depths of his psychosis, and the repeated failures of law enforcement to help her in the past, Maggie decides she has no choice but to go after him alone. What follows is a chase across five states that takes Maggie from New York to Washington, D.C., and into the deepest corners of her mind. Maggie Kincaid is about to learn that you can be stalked by things far worse than a love gone bad.
Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "The Snow Globe" demonstrates author tony Faggioli's genuine gift for narrative driven storytelling of the first order. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Snow Globe" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Sky Castle Publishing
9780963079183, $12.99, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: On a remote Peruvian mountaintop, a firebolt from the sky strikes down four elite soldiers searching for an ancient tomb. Are they victims of a mysterious artifact's power? Or a deadly new weapon?
Historian Christa Devlin is called in to solve the mystery of these men's deaths. With FBI Agent Braydon Fox, she is in the most high stakes quest of her life -- to find the Goldenfire, the power within the Ark of the Covenant. But this is more than a treasure hunt.
Thirteen years ago, Christa's parents journeyed deep into the Peruvian wilderness searching for these same answers. Her mother never returned. Had she vanished, like so many who ventured into this wilderness? Or could she still be alive, healed by the Goldenfire?
Christa and Braydon race into the past, chasing the history of the Ark through France, Scotland, and mountains once ruled by the Inca empire. They delve deeper into danger on a trail twisting and turning with enigmatic symbols, legends of the Knights Templar and a centuries-old map. A ruthless adversary is on their heels, determined to find the Goldenfire first and turn it into a powerful weapon.
Critique: The third novel in author Pamela Hegarty's superbly crafted 'High Stakes History Thriller' series, "Goldenfire" is a simply riveting read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collection, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Goldenfire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Fiction Shelf
The Vanishing Art of Letter Writing
Sally Poor McHenry
True Perspective Publishing House
9780999075517 $18.99 amazon.com
Synopsis: On a snowy day in Michigan, Taylor Gibbs decides to finish clearing out a storage closet, and comes upon a large cache of old love letters.
When she begins to read them, she is taken back forty years, to the days when she was twenty-one, and dating Bromley Carder. He at Harvard, she at Stanford, his letters are a one-sided view of how it was - to be intelligent, highly literate, deeply in love, 3000 miles away, unschooled in the art of patience, chained to convention, and young, in 1968.
Beautifully written, Taylor cannot put the letters down, and reads them all in a few days.
When her own life intercedes and she must put them away, she doesn't think of them for a while. then something makes her wonder if Brom should be informed of the letters' existence. If she can find him.
She finds him. Then the Fates take over, with their own plans.
Critique: The Vanishing Art of Letter Writing: A Novel is a unique love story, crafted also as a tribute to the beauty and emotional resonance of letter writing, particularly love letters. In the modern era oversaturated with abbreviated texting and digital communication, remembrance of a time when written eloquence was treasured is more valuable in than ever. The Vanishing Art of Letter Writing is heartfelt, beautiful, and highly recommended.
Applejack & Bat Masterson: Trinidad's Law
Condor Publishing, Inc.
9781931079181 $12.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Gun-fighter! Deputy Marshal! Romantic! Friend to the Trinidad priest and Marshal Bat Masterson! Jack "Applejack" Martin is a youthful gun-fighting deputy!
After his parent's death, Applejack, leaves the family's hardscrabble ranch to travel to Trinidad, Colorado. Along the way he fights a bandito and is badly beaten. While recovering, Jack encounters a wounded outlaw and saves the gunman's life. In return, the young man is taught to be a pistolero of extreme skill.
Arriving in Trinidad, Applejack prevents Bat Masterson from being killed and is hired by the noted marshal to become one of his deputies. The unworldly young lawman falls in love with a wealthy senorita and must confront her hateful and arrogant father. The deputy's innocence, but great skill with a revolver, quickly elicits the respect of Trinidad's residents, Masterson, and other deputies, and transforms the ranch boy into a man.
Through the intriguing character of Applejack, author Charlie Steel weaves a riveting and fascinating tale around very real people and events of the old West that include not only the famous marshal but also a wayward and colorful priest.
Critique: The Old West comes alive in this exciting novel about survival as a gunslinger on the frontier. Applejack & Bat Masterson: Trinidad's Law is a treat for connoisseurs of the genre, and compelling to the very last page. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Applejack & Bat Masterson: Trinidad's Law is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
My Interview with Beethoven
L. A. Hider Jones
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535201421, $17.99, PB, 380pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1826, young Virginia newspaperman George Thompson leaves his unhappy past for Vienna, "the city of music". His journalistic mission is interview the famous composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. But George wants more than an interview. He wants to get close to Beethoven because he's been told the musical genius is his natural father. George also needs to know what his mother, Hannah Bekker, had meant to Beethoven.
While Beethoven tells George of his rise to fame, his tragic deafness, and the women he loved and lost, George wonders about Beethoven's intimate relationship with Hannah -- and how he is to confess his real reason for interviewing the moody composer. What transpires turns George's life inside out, and forces Beethoven to reveal a disturbing, personal secret.
Inspired by true events, "My Interview with Beethoven" is about a young man's journey that leads him to right wrongs, find love in unexpected ways, and heal the deep wounds of those he touches.
Critique: A brilliantly original, deftly crafted, engagingly entertaining novel from beginning to end, "My Interview with Beethoven", which is unreservedly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections, impressively showcases author L. A. Hider Jones' genuine flair for narrative driven historical fiction.
Mari Anne Christie
Whaley Digital Press
9781546730347, $19.99, PB, 506pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf, nay, hostile ears. As such, he must finally resolve his own moral quandary: comment on the war from his influential and safe position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?
The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman's crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man.
"Blind Tribute" exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry's family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.
Critique: A compelling, entertaining novel from first page to last, "Blind Tribute" showcases author Mari Anne Christie's genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. A deftly crafted and fully engaging read, "Blind Tribute" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blind Tribute" is also available in a digital book format ($3.99).
Swallow Tail Press
9781984202062, $12.95 library edition
9780988918191, $12.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle 289pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: To Alice Coggins, the 24-year-old daughter of a South Philadelphia scam artist, everything looks like a racket: endless serflike internships, student loans that can never be repaid, high-minded charities run by swindlers for the benefit of rich donors.
Things only get worse when she meets Andrew Ogleby, a scion of blue-bloods who is engaged to a bulimic pet-food heiress he can't bring himself to marry. As their Cinderella romance unfolds, Alice and Andrew must battle their families, the mob, and most of all the ubiquitous "Potlatch": a vast conspiracy of conspicuous waste directed by the powers that be to keep the populace (and especially the young people) from even thinking about doing anything useful.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, funny, ironic, and with a touch of being iconoclastic in attitude and insight, Bruce Hartman's "Potlatch" is an original and unfailingly entertaining read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Potlatch" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Hail Judeas Caesar
PO Box 18561, San Antonio, TX 78218-0561
9780971567627, $10.99, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the first century CE during the Roman occupation of Judea, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, and his wife, Claudia, find a country steeped in deep religious traditions and zealot resistance. The people of Judea believe the Roman presence is a defilement to a land promised to them in a Holy Covenant with their god, and are passionately defiant.
Pilate elicits clandestine liaisons within the Jewish community to manipulate religious forces and subvert the populace against the established religious order. He seeks to increase tax collection and recruit men for fielded armies to further Rome's power and his own political aspirations.
Interwoven into this intense conflict between two vastly different cultures is the love story between Pontius and Claudia.
"Hail Judeas Caesar" by Ryan Fleming is a deftly crafted novel that places ancient written accounts of the origins of Christianity in an historical paradigm rather than a supernatural or theological context. It proposes a remarkable theory of Rome's direct involvement in the inadvertent formation of the early Christian movement.
The story builds towards an amazing climax of one of the most important and potentially misunderstood events in the history of the world. Pilate's strategies result in a consequence of which he never dreamed -- a religious offshoot of Judaism that would come to be called Christianity.
In one final staged miracle Jesus survives a Roman crucifixion, the culmination of Pilate's actions, perpetuating a movement that otherwise would have withered, lost to history.
Critique: An absolutely riveting read from cover to cover, "Hail Judeas Caesar" showcases author Ryan Fleming's genuine flair for narrative driven fiction, originality, and skilled storytelling. While "Hail Judeas Caesar" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Modern History Press
9781615993529, $21.95, PB, 268pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother's death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she'll coordinate an annual conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he's a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother.
Critique: "Louisiana Catch" is an emotionally immersive novel by Sweta Srivastava Vikram about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It's a compelling story about Ahana's unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to deterŽmine whom to place her trust in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities. An extraordinary and entertaining read from cover to cover, "Louisiana Catch" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Louisiana Catch" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781981143283, $12.95, PB, 502pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Chris Parker has heard tales of vast fortunes being made in the Chicago commodities business. The near seven-foot-tall Alabaman has a freakish ability to make fast numerical calculations, helping him get promoted to floor broker by a Wall Street company. A Wild West atmosphere reigns on the Chicago Commodities Exchange trading floor; the rail-thin southerner gets bludgeoned. He complicates things by becoming enthralled with a tiny female trader. Soon Chris begins trading with her over the heads of hundreds of traders. His Pit neighbors become violent over all the juice getting away. Things only get more zany--and dangerous from there. Chris learns of a ghastly plot by the CCE to bribe a powerful U.S. Congressman. Then he finds out why... When Chris decides to take action, he begins to fear elements of the 'old Chicago' of lore are readying to doom him. The drama drastically alters his view of the nation's financial markets.
Critique: A saga of a novel, "Chicago Pits" is a solidly written and engagingly entertaining read by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven and extended storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Chicago Pits" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).
Joanne C. Parsons
9780692860458, $5.99, PB, 158pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At the insistence of her parents, sixteen-year-old Katie O'Neil reluctantly left her beloved Galway. She joined her cousin, Moira Murphy, in Boston, Massachusetts to work as a nanny and domestic. In mid-nineteenth century Boston, Irish domestics were often referred to as Kitchen Canaries and considered property of their employers.
As immigrants to America, the young women encounter rejection, fear, and humiliation. Their lives become entangled in the secrets and lies of their employers at 2102 Beacon Street. In four short years, Katie and Moira experience violation, despair, love, and acceptance.
In this post-Civil War era, Boston is bustling with change as wealthy Englishmen and Boston Brahmins expand world trade routes, build railroads and develop land. Immigrants from Ireland, Italy and Poland establish neighborhoods, existing in overcrowded, disease-ridden shacks and tenements. They and negroes flocking North, suffer hate, humiliation and rejection from the establishment. The only value they have to the rich Bostonians is their willingness to work for little money performing menial or back-breaking, dangerous jobs on the docks, and building railroads.
"Kitchen Canary" is a novel about the goodness of others, black, white, Irish and English whose strength prevails to overcome evil and guide Katie and Moira to true redemption.
Critique: "Kitchen Canary" is the debut novel of author Joanne C. Parsons and is about the power of greed, the toll of guilt, and shame, and rewards of reconciliation. Exceptionally well written, thoroughly absorbing, consistently entertaining, "Kitchen Canary" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kitchen Canary" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
9781944887162, $14.95, PB, 222pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The world around a three-year-old girl, abandoned in the heart of Mumbai, churns with the consequences of abject poverty. With little awareness of life beyond survival, the child and her pack-mates focus on the present moment as they dig in garbage for food, drink water with the cows and sleep on the sidewalk. Claire Kaine, a corporate executive working in India, is totally focused on her career until she sees the tiny homeless girl bathing in the hotel fountain. Her corporate facade begins to soften. As their unusual friendship develops, the core of Claire's life finds a new direction as their bond influences many other people, like ripples in a pond. "Kala's Choice" by Marcia Breece is carefully researched novel that highlights critical changes in India's history during the 1990s. "Kala's Choice" is a story of community, kindness, and hope while inviting the reader to witness the unbreakable bonds of love and the healing power of compassion.
Critique: An insightful and revealing perspective on the true distinction between lack and abundance, "Kala's Choice" is a compelling literary experience from beginning to end and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kala's Choice" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Secrets and Shadows
Campden Hill Books LLC
9781640089020, $24.00, HC, 295pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Wartime Berlin is a city of secrets, the kind of secrets that destroyed Paul Bertram's once-idyllic marriage, the kind of secrets that have threatened to consume him, the kind of secrets that almost destroyed his very life.
When the Berlin Wall falls in 1989, Paul is finally compelled to confront his past. Seeking one last chance at redemption, he is pulled back to the city where he and his family almost perished. But how? With whom?
In his anguish Paul turns to his former wife, Eve, and together they embark on a journey they never could have envisioned, a journey during which he is able -- at last -- to reveal the awful truths he has lived with for so long. A journey where she is able to face her own fears and flaws.
In spare, compassionate prose, Roberta Silman has created vivid, resilient characters who learn that friendship and love can also mean humiliation and betrayal, that kind intentions can lead to unimagined evil. Her portrayal of the growing tension and terror in Berlin leading up to and during the Second World War is unforgettable. She not only explores the many twists and turns of fate; she also shows how the atrocities of the Second World War can reverberate far into the future, long after actual events.
As Eve and Paul face who they really were and now are, we see them accepting each other in entirely new ways. Despite the shocking denouement, both Eve and Paul realize that one of the most important aspects of being human is our ability to forgive.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and simply riveting novel by a masterfully skilled storyteller, "Secrets and Shadows" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Secrets and Shadows" is also available in a paperback edition (9781640089006, $12.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Kapelis "The Hatmaker"
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781543401165, $40.31, HC, 326pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Kapelis is from generations of hat-makers. The Kapelis families were decent people. "Kapelis The Hatmaker"" is the story of their journey through an anthology of modern Europe seen through the eyes of an ordinary family living through extraordinary times. The ceaseless struggle to return democracy back to the land of democracy's birth. The moral protection of the Jewish people by Orthodox Hellenes against the pogrom inflicted on the Jews by the vile machinery of the evil Nazis in Modern Greece during World War II. A man whose motherland then ached from civil war, dictatorship, bankruptcy, endless adversity and utter evil. But justice ultimately prevails for Kapelis by applying 'good versus good' to cure his pain from living through a century of injustices.
Critique: A delightful and heart-moving story "Kapelis The Hatmaker" by Andreas Kappa defines human emotions at their finest. A deftly crafted and fully engaging read from beginning to end, "Kapelis The Hatmaker" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kapelis The Hatmaker" is also available in a paperback edition (9781948346078, $22.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
Through an Opaque Window
Kelly Ann Gonzales
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781543475913, $29.99, HC, 184pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sienna and Declan are young, high-profile NYC executives with an opaque marriage. Neither closed nor open, their mutual arrangement has been left to a laissez-faire interpretation. The rules are simple: never bring a lover to their home, and never fall in love with their affairs.
Sienna feels trapped by the own rules she agreed to with Declan when she realizes she's fallen in love with her best friend from college. What follows is an affair of the heart and mind, their permitted sexual lifestyle against the unsanctioned emotional infidelity.
Sienna must choose between emotional stability and marital security versus passion and excitement. Through an Opaque Window takes a solid view through the open windows of marital life, looking at what happens when we leave our lives ajar.
Critique: A deftly crafted novel by an author who is a master at narrative driven storytelling, Kelly Ann Gonzales' "through an Opaque Window" is a thoroughly reader engaging and unfailingly entertainment of a read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Through an Opaque Window" is also available in a paperback edition (9781543475920, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Road Back
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480849723, $33.95, HC, 232pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It has been a year since Karina Hawkins learned her husband had been killed in the line of duty. Now as she does her best to raise their young twin daughters alone, Karina decides to return to work in another attempt to rebuild her broken life. But when she arrives at a tech company to begin her new role as general counsel, she has no idea what awaits her inside.
Sawyer Banks has never forgotten Karina. Although he is a man with few regrets, losing the love of his life is one of them. Now that Karina is available and he is her new boss, he has every intention of getting her back -- and he is not stopping until she is his again. Although their chemistry is undeniably delicious, Karina is uncertain if they can overcome the hurt and secrets between them. But when a threat from her past returns and places her family in danger, Sawyer must prove if he is strong enough to stand by her and not abandon her once again.
Critique: "The Road Back" by Marla Machado is an distinctively erotic romance novel, in which a widow passionately reconnects with her soul mate just as her past comes back to haunt her, leaving them both to wonder if their relationship will survive. Exceptionally well written by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, "The Road Back" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections, It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Road Back" is also available in a paperback edition (Archway Publishing, 9781480849747, $16.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Golden Antelope Press
9781936135462 $17.95 amazon.com
Synopsis: In Patricia Watts' new novel, The Frayer, we watch an uncannily seductive Louisiana bayou man as he goes about "fraying" the inhabitants of a prosperous apartment building in Fairbanks, Alaska, and destroying the building itself. Angelo Fallon's eerie powers are both physical and psychological. Physically, he can make chunks of plaster fall from walls, and massive chandeliers break loose from ceilings. And he can seduce, apparently, just about anyone he chooses to seduce. Big Blue, the building itself, narrates the story of Angelo's machinations: tiny cracks start appearing in Blue's walls as soon as the villain walks in. But Blue, who can read the thoughts of most of his inhabitants, sees only a wave of black when he searches inside Angelo's mind. Within a few pages, Angelo Fallon has caused Corrine, the building's owner, to break a leg.
Psychologically, Angelo is a master at sowing discord. He knows the weaknesses and hidden needs of the individuals he has decided to destroy, and he skillfully insinuates himself into their lives. So, having made Corrine vulnerable, he becomes her caretaker, then her controller. He creates mistrust, using loaded questions and pretended concern to turn her against her friend Jasmina, the coffee shop owner who teaches belly dancing on Blue's ground floor. He widens the rift by seducing both women, then further isolates Corrine by turning his bluesy saxophone-playing charm on her closeted gay friend Lonnie. (The seduction scenes are steamy.)
Big Blue senses the cracks growing, the mold forming as Angelo plays his frayer games. He watches, frets, and tries to intervene. But can he do more than wring his non-existent hands? Can his sixty years of caring, and the deeper instincts of Angelo's flawed victims, save him--or them?
Patricia Watts' surreal premise quickly pulls readers into a novel which blends horror and heroism, eros and architecture. Her long career as an investigative journalist in Fairbanks is evident in the skill with which she creates and motivates her characters, the detailed care with which she describes her scene, the suspense she builds, the inevitable deceptions and self-deceptions she slowly uncovers.
Critique: The Frayer is an intense, concentrated novel of deception, manipulation, eroticism, and intrigue. A mysterious invader, who hides his diabolic true nature with seductive charm, threatens the well-being of the inhabitants of a venerable apartment building in Alaska. The building itself, Big Blue, is helpless to watch the lives of its owner and tenants torn aprt... or is it? Dark, suspenseful, and fascinating, The Frayer is highly recommended.
The Poetry Shelf
The Joy of Poems
Angel M. Jimenez
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532029776, $33.99, HC, 124pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Life and love are things we all cherish. Our appreciation for life and everything it represents becomes exceedingly more significant in all spheres, o f which the most important on earth is humanity. In "The Joy of Poems", Angel M. Jimenez uses verse and photography to celebrate life and love in all their various forms. Love is the origin and point of departure for beginning and continuing any relationship in life. Of all the emotions, it is the most important and essential. When it comes to love, we decorate the spheres of space, subjects, and objects with exotic, romantic dimension to enhance the outlook and context of life, and poetry comes alive. Jimenez writes poems with passion about the beautiful exposures and experiences of life, building them with intrinsic essence for the enjoyment of the reader, emanating from the love of life and the joy of poetry.
Critique: An extraordinary and memorable poetry collection, "The Joy of Poems" is comprised of a series of verses that consider aspects of humanity, life, nature, and love with the goal of inspiring greater happiness in readers, making it unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Contemporary Poetry collections and reading lists. It should be noted that "The Joy of Poems" is also available in paperback edition (9781532029769, $22.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
The Self-Help Shelf
In Defense of Adversity
Richter Publishing LLC
9781945812248, $20.00, HC, 190pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In our high tech, fast-paced, rapidly changing world, adversity is hitting us at speeds significantly faster than ever (and at a younger age) leaving us little time to respond and arming us with far too few tools for controlling that response in a productive manner. That's why it is so easy for a person to become averse to risk and to become frustrated and afraid of things when he or she lacks the tools to handle them.
In the pages of "In Defense of Adversity: Turning Your Toughest Challenges into Your Greatest Success", Steve Gavatorta (author and owner of the Steve Gavatora Group which specializes in empowering individuals and organizations in identifying, developing, and exceeding performance goals) will give provide the non-specialist general reader with the resources necessary to survive and thrive in this ever changing and unpredictable world.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "In Defense of Adversity: Turning Your Toughest Challenges into Your Greatest Success" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "In Defense of Adversity" is also available in a paperback edition (9781945812200, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
When It's Never About You
Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D.
Harte & Co Publishing
9780999311509 $16.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Everyone loves a people-pleaser. They're always willing to help, to stay late, to fill in, to "go along." But if you're one of them, you often end up feeling violated, ignored, disrespected, and disconnected--from life and others. Silently enduring the ongoing and relentless invalidation of who you are and what you want will reliably wreak havoc on your health and the health of your relationships. So, are you ready to put less "Yes" and more "You" in your life?
In "When It's Never About You", psychotherapist, Ilene S. Cohen, uses real-world examples and activities to help you take a systemic look at people-pleasing. You'll learn...
* How to reclaim a strong and balanced sense of self--while still being a "good person."
* How to break the harmful behavior patterns that keep you from being heard, listened to and respected.
* Specific strategies for transforming yourself from selfless to "self-full."
* How to go from feeling "vanished" to being clearly differentiated.
* How to get what you want and need--while actually earning even more respect from others.
Tired of disappearing from life? Ready for the "pleasing prescription"? "When It's Never About You" will give you the tools and confidence to put yourself first, while bringing the best YOU to those who depend on you!
Critique: When It's Never About You: The People-Pleaser's Guide to Reclaiming Your Health lives up to its title as a practical-minded, self-help guide for people who overextend themselves too much on behalf of others. Psychotherapist and blogger Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D. discusses why doing too much can hurt one's relationships; the importance of being oneself and learning to love oneself; strategies to contain and move past anxiety; and much more. Simple activities enhance each chapter and emphasize their message of finding happiness through balance. "When someone does something to hurt you, it's more about them than it is about you. And the truth is, even though it sucks, it's okay to hurt sometimes and reflect on that hurt instead of rushing to do something about it." When It's Never About You is candid, insightful, and wholeheartedly recommended for both personal and public library self-help shelves. It should be noted for personal reading lists that When It's Never About You is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Biography Shelf
8,596 Miles: My Leap of Faith, My Journey
Rajashree Gaitonde, M.D.
9780692975572, $12.95, PB, 114pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Rajshree Gaitonde was a young woman fresh out of medical school in India when she was plunged into a completely different life in America with her new husband, a virtual stranger through an arranged marriage. It was faith, reliance on divine guidance, and music that would help her through the difficult transitions and lead her to achieve a successful career at the infamous Folsom Prison.
Always with a desire to learn and offer more, while at Folsom, she earned a Law degree and a Masters in Health Services. Her pioneer work as the first woman physician to enter Folsom Prison inspired newspaper articles about her.
From an early age a career in medicine was her goal. But holistic medicine, including the healing power of music, was her passion as well. It continues to be an important part of her life that she shares through educational presentations and seminars.
Critique: The inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring story of how a young woman from a sheltered and privileged life in India traveled 8,596 miles to be the first female physician in a notorious, all-male maximum security prison in California, "8,596 Miles: My Leap of Faith, My Journey" is an extraordinary and deftly written memoir. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "8,596 Miles: My Leap of Faith, My Journey" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99). It should also be noted that Dr. Gaitonde feels so blessed in her life that she is determined to help educate underprivileged girls in rural India who have not had her advantages. To this end, she will be donating from the proceeds of the sale of "8,596 Miles: My Leap of Faith, My Journey" to charities and organizations that support the education of these girls.
South Of Ordinary
City Creek Press
PO Box 8415, Minneapolis, MN 55408
9781883841102, $14.95, PB, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "South Of Ordinary" is the sequel to Judy Liautaud's award-winning memoir, "Sunlight on My Shadow". In this update on her life and experience, Judy deftly recounts her travels in the 1970's through Mexico, Central, and South America with her ex-husband, a self-acknowledged "adrenaline junkie" Dave Rodriguez. Judy is enamored by her beloved Dave's carefree attitude. She sets out to prove she has courage and grit and wants what Dave wants in this rolling stone life-style. "South Of Ordinary" is a story of personal transformation and an education in life's hard knocks.
Critique: With a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, Judy Liautaud's "South Of Ordinary" is a simply riveting read from first to last and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "South Of Ordinary" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Randy Mills & Roxanne Mills
Blue River Press
9781681570693, $16.99, PB, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The fascinating and heartbreaking story of Indiana soldier, Dick Wolfe, was preserved in scores of letters he sent home to family, and letters friends sent to him in Vietnam from July 1967 to early January of 1968. On the rare days Wolfe spent at relatively large base camps in Vietnam, he penned long, detailed letters to his wife, mother, and friends. Most of his correspondence held little back as it was written in brief snatches in a tent-covered hole by the light of a single candle at primitive night defensive positions.
Randy and Roxanne Mills, collaborating to bring this Vietnam era correspondence of Richard 'Dick' Wolfe to print in the pages of "Summer Wind: A Soldier's Road from Indiana to Vietnam" also incorporated diverse other materials such as personal interviews, diary accounts, personal journals of the men who served with Dick Wolfe, recorded air-to-ground conversations, and military history accounts of the Second Battalion, Eighteenth Infantry of the First Division.
The authors successfully weave together a tale with the greatest amount of context, delivering an astounding awareness of the incredible stress of combat -- both on combatants and the "folks back home".
Critique: A unique and invaluable contribution to the growing body of Vietnam War memoirs and biographies, "Summer Wind: A Soldier's Road from Indiana to Vietnam" is a compelling and informative read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Summer Wind" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Christian Studies Shelf
The Parabola of Discipleship
Kendall E. Coleman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781974506095, $34.00, PB, 174pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Kendall E. Coleman is an ordained Christian minister and elder who has served in church leadership. In "The Parabola of Discipleship for the churched and unchurched" he presents a very interesting account of a discipleship program run through the homeless ministry of a Chicago church.
"The Parabola of Discipleship" contains a detailed breakdown of how the course was conceived and executed, how well different aspects of the course went, and suggested changes for future similar courses. It also includes some exercises that could be used in future programs and a pretest and posttest to help quantify the course's results.
"The Parabola of Discipleship" aims to serve as a workbook for those looking to begin or construct a discipleship course; the material is geared toward urban churches, but the content does not exclude or restrict readership in any way. Content at the end of the workbook is meant for actual classroom use, and the preceding narrative successfully introduces, explains, and supports the workbook's objectives as well as the discipleship program's goals. The narrative portion highlights personal experience with teaching students who are homeless, and these real-life examples enhance the validity of the proposed discipleship process.
Critique: "The Parabola of Discipleship" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal and highly recommended workbook for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. It should be noted that "The Parabola of Discipleship" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
The Political Science Shelf
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781979634670, $10.99, PB, 170pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In November 2016, the United States experienced a presidential election of immense cultural, political, and historical significance. Now roughly one year later the headlines continue to sizzle with the tumultuous events of Donald Trump's dramatic and traumatic stay in the White House.
Stuart Shapiro is a Professor of Public Policy at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
"Not Normal: A Progressive's Diary of the Year After Trump's Election" is Stuart Shapiro's personal diary of Trump's first year in office, beginning the very night of the fateful election. Written from Professor Shapiro's progressive political perspective, the major events of America's wild year are chronicled here, featuring his reactions and analyses of the impact they've had on the American people - and what they mean going forward.
Professor Shapiro provides bristling commentary on the most memorable political events of the last twelve months, including the assembly of Trump's cabinet members, the travel ban, health-care reform, gun control, the merging of sports and politics, the ongoing scandal with Russia -- and of course the most blunt and shocking use of social media by any US president.
Featuring select columns written by Professor Shapiro and which were originally published by The Hill, "Not Normal" is a guide for the layperson on what has and has not been normal about Trump's presidency and the current state of public policy in the United States.
Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, ""Not Normal: A Progressive's Diary of the Year After Trump's Election" is an extraordinary read from cover to cover and should be a part of every community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collection. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of political science students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Not Normal" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Portal to the Dreamtime
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514442364, $68.54, HC, 308pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Portal to the Dreamtime" by John Koch is a true story which validates the reality of spirit. It shows how spirit can influence us in many ways that lead us to making the best choices and achieving the best outcomes.
By understanding and embracing spirit, we realise we are not separate, and we become more empowered, more creative and more fulfilled. We leave behind our fears and move into a new love based reality.
Wharumbidgi is the guardian spirit of the Sacred Site of the Sleeping Serpent. In "Portal to the Dreamtime", he reveals the wisdom of the original inhabitants of Australia, and explains how an etheric portal was created by the power of love.
Critique: "Portal to the Dreamtime" will prove to be of enormous interest to all metaphysical studies students. Written to honor the Australian Aboriginal people and their metaphysical belief system called 'Dreamtime', "Portal to the Dreamtime" is an inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring read that is unreservedly recommended for both community library Metaphysical Studies collections and academic library Australian Aboriginal Culture supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Portal to the Dreamtime" is also available in a paperback edition (9781514442371, $52.41) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Business Shelf
Bigger Than This
9780989646178, $14.95, PB, 202pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What do brands like Planet Fitness, Everlane, and Bombas all have in common? They're capturing peoples' emotions and winning customers' hearts. And they are based on commodity products or services.
Acclaimed brand strategist Fabian Geyrhalter's enlightening new book, "Bigger Than This: How to turn any venture into an admired brand" digs deep into today's new world of brand creation. "Bigger Than This" challenges companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100s, to discover and even rediscover discover their spark and connect with today's consumers on a deeper level.
"Bigger Than This" analyzes brands that are based on commodity products - watches, socks, shoes, fish - yet they quickly turn into beloved brands. "Bigger Than This" emphasizes the importance of storytelling, encouraging brands to embrace 8 simple traits these brands showcase and offers specific, actionable commandments that any brand can implement - story, belief, cause, heritage, delight, transparency, solidarity, and individuality. The underlying message of "Bigger Than This" is that businesses need to uncover the roots of their ventures and share honest, empathetic stories that resonate with consumers, creating a loyal following that leads to strong, successful brands.
Delightfully concise and refreshing, Geyrhalter draws on his personal experience of having helped shape over 60 brands, and intentionally (and noticeably) steps away from marketing fluff and business lingo that often clouds the integrity of marketing books.
Critique: As 'real world practical' as it is insightfully 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Bigger Than This: How to turn any venture into an admired brand" is an extraordinary and invaluable read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library "Business Management" collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students, business managers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Bigger Than This" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
The Social Issues Shelf
Be a Hater
Wes Parham, MBA, PhD
9780999688403 $12.00 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: What do Taylor Swift, Cognitive Psychology, Gucci Mane, Dissent, and The Most Dangerous Person Alive have in common? The answer is the "Hater Mindset". In "Be A Hater" Dr. Parham examines the emergence of the "Hater Mindset" in contemporary culture. This book delves into a subtle and subconscious cultural shift in the concept of a "hater". The shift from viewing a "hater" as someone trying to hold you back or stop you from succeeding, to viewing a "hater" as anyone who disagrees or dissents from your opinion. This shift while subtle has strong implications for critical thinking, the value of relationships, an individual's happiness, cognitive entitlement, and more. In "Be A Hater" Dr. Parham brings this subconscious shift to the surface and equips the reader to counter its effects by challenging them to "Be A Hater!"
Critique: When author Wes Parham, MBA, PhD worked with children or teenagers, he often found his point of view abruptly dismissed with the phrase "You are just a hater." The younger generation repeatedly labeled him a "hater" as a means to reject any idea they disagreed with. Be a Hater is absolutely not pro-hatred; instead, it's about accepting the label of "Hater" as someone who dares to engage in critical thinking, or advocate a dissenting perspective. Part tongue-in-cheek view askew, part serious social commentary, and part advocation for open-mindedness, Be a Hater is highly recommended. It should also be noted for personal reading lists that Be a Hater is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
The Autism Shelf
Pointing is Rude
9781942762348 $16.50 pbk / $7.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Five-time Emmy Award-winning television producer Digger O'Brien gets to the heart of being a dad in his brave debut memoir, Pointing Is Rude. When his son Frederick was diagnosed with Autism, Digger embarked on an exhausting, emotional, and often comical journey to find a cure, visiting several prestigious hospitals and a long list of specialists - including one who referred to himself as "The Poop Whisperer." Digger's poignant and occasionally outrageous adventures hit multiple dead ends before taking off in a surprising new direction with the adoption of an infant boy from Ethiopia. Pointing Is Rude chronicles how one person beat back despair and, in doing so, opened up endless possibilities. It's a book that will make you laugh and cry, often on the same page.
Critique: Five-time Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director Digger O'Brien presents Pointing is Rude, an unflinchingly honest memoir of the challenges of raising a son, Frederick, who has been diagnosed as having autism and mental retardation, and who is extremely unlikely to ever live in a fully independent manner. Nothing is sanitized, nothing is dressed down from just how bad raising a child with severe autism can be. But there was a path to finding joy in life again, and the family would be further transformed by the adoption of an Ethiopian child. "Frederick will never have a meaningful career but has already been more successful than almost everyone I know because he makes people better. Everyone is better for knowing Frederick." Highly recommended.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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