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9781973543749, $11.99, PB, 101pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What has emerged in the past few years is the unexpected finding that excessive "internetting". smartphoning, and social media make us miserable. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Over the last decade, journalist Blake Snow rigorously researched, tested, and developed several connectivity strategies for finding offline balance in an online world. In"Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting", he draws upon his studies, experiences, and expertise to passionately, succinctly, and sometimes humorously explains how to hit refresh for good, do more with less online, live large on low-caloric technology, increase facetime with actual people, outperform workaholics in half the time, and tunefully blend both analog and digital lives with no regrets.
The concept of "offline balance movement" is genuine and Blake Snow's "Log Off" is this 'plug in' generation's playbook for true social networking emancipation.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting" is a well timed 'how to' manual for social media emancipation and control that should be a part of every community, college, and university library collection. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "Log Off" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
The Unfinished Book About Who We Are
9781938284083, $11.99, PB, 190pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Joseph Rain is an entrepreneur from London who has renounced any association with nationality, race, religion, or class, and instead considers himself a true citizen of the world, faithful to one religion: humanity. He is devoting his life to exploring who we are, employing fact, reason, faith, and deepened introspection, the same four foundations we typically attribute to science, philosophy, religion, and spirituality, respectively.
Based on 35 years of research, Joseph has written a series of books entitled "The Unfinished Book About Who We Are", where he summarizes his many discoveries and understandings.
Who are we and where are we going? What is reality and what is truth? How do we harness our full, limitless potential? We have been asking these questions since we became capable of self-reflection. Entire bodies of thought grew up around these questions. Wars have been fought over them; empires crumbled because of them; religions were created to explain them, and then to crush them. Even quantum physics has had plenty to say about them -- but we haven't really listened.
Today's breathless pace of technological and geopolitical change leaves us with little time or space to contemplate such things, but it has become more critical than ever that we do so. Can science and religion finally shake hands? Should our moral values inform or follow law? And most striking of all, what do quantum physics and spirituality have in common?
Written by a man whose background spans several cultures and multiple religions, who has experienced the highs and lows of personal and professional life, and who went through a deep personal tragedy when he was only in his twenties, this first volume, "The Unfinished Book About Who We Are: First Steps to Self-Discovery" invites the reader to explore some of humanity's most tenacious and indelible questions -- and to find the answers that will take our own lives to a different level.
Critique: "The Unfinished Book About Who We Are: First Steps to Self-Discovery" is a deftly written, insightful, informative, and at times iconoclastic examination of the links among science and quantum physics, spirituality and religion, and humanity's capacity to change its own evolution. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Unfinished Book About Who We Are: First Steps to Self-Discovery" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Author Joseph Rain can be contacted on his web site, www.josephrain.com.
9781732104006 $18.95 pbk amazon.com
Synopsis: Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories, however, serve a higher purpose: teaching people how to rise above the challenges in the road of life and achieve dreams that they once thought were impossible.
Celia Belt's Remarkably Intact is just such a story. It's a true tale of survival, strength, and sacrifice. And it's a story of a woman who refused to let her physical and emotional injuries dictate her life. This unexpected guide to life is a blueprint drawn from Celia's own incredible struggles as a burn survivor, business professional, charity leader, author, and public speaker. Throughout the book, Celia candidly shares her "can-do" attitude and ideology for overcoming the odds. Anyone facing daunting hurdles will find Remarkably Intact an indispensable companion and source of heartfelt inspiration.
Critique: Remarkably Intact: Angels are No Strangers to Chains is author Celia Belt's true-life story of surviving severe burns, multiple surgeries, and childhood abuse. She refused to let her injuries define her life, and became a business professional, charity leader, author, public speaker, and mother of three. She co-founded the award-winning charity Moonlight Fund Inc., which provides financial and emotional assistance to burn survivors and their families. In Remarkably Intact, she shares her story - a true tale of learning to rise above the cruelties one suffers and live life to the fullest. Remarkably Intact is inspirational, profoundly moving, and highly recommended.
The Economic Studies Shelf
Rents: How Marketing Causes Inequality
Gerrit De Geest
9781732511217, $29.00, HC, 350pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Income inequality has risen dramatically since the 1970s. But why, exactly? In "Rents: How Marketing Causes Inequality", Gerrit De Geest (who is the Charles F. Nagel Professor of International and Comparative Law at Washington University School of Law, where he teaches contracts, antitrust law, law and economics, and consumer contracts, and who served as the Director of the Center on Law, Innovation & Economic Growth) argues that the main cause is advances in marketing. Marketers have become better at causing and exploiting market distortions in legal ways. The legal system tries to prevent the deliberate creation of market failures, but it has not evolved at the same speed. Business schools have outsmarted law schools.
Over the time span 1970-2015, the impact of marketing on the economy has steadily increased, transforming competitive markets in less competitive ones by making prices less transparent, splitting informed and uninformed consumers, making products incomparable, locking in consumers, or exploiting psychological biases. This has increased the amount of artificial profits in the economy -- called "rents" in economic jargon.
Professor De Geest estimates that rents now amount to 35 percent of the economy. This means that out of every $100 you spend, on average $35 goes to profits that could not have been made in perfectly competitive markets. That was only $20 in 1970. "Rents: How Marketing Causes Inequality" shows how getting wealthy has become less a matter of working hard than of capturing rents.
"Rents: How Marketing Causes Inequality" clearly lays out why a boss makes many times their employee's salary and why the prices we all pay for groceries keep changing.
Critique: Written with an impressive clarity that makes it accessible to academia and non-specialist general readers alike, "Rents: How Marketing Causes Inequality" is an extraordinary student that is exceptionally well organized and presented from beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and academic library Contemporary Economics collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and ordinary readers with an interest in the subject that "Rents: How Marketing Causes Inequality" is also available in a paperback edition (9781732511200, $15.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.00).
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Storytelling for Pantsers
Laurel Elite Books
9781947482012 $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? Hungry for a book that shows you how to write and revise your novel without an outline?
Discover the secret sauce to help those of us seat-flyers get at least some grounding in what we do, and to find and use a system in the chaos that is pantsing.
This book is for you if you:
Are still on chapter one - You should read this book if you have started a novel at least 68 times (the same novel) and only written the first chapter
Jump around - You should read this book if you write chapter 1. And then chapter 5. And then chapter 2. etc.
Write to Discover - You should read this book if you need to write to discover your story. ("I just watch my characters and write down what they do.")
Get Lost in the Weeds - You should read this book if you get lost in the weeds of writing and revision because portions of your novel are in different phases of the writing process.
Feel Writing is Complicated - You should read this book if you feel frustrated because "Dang it; writing's hard enough. Why do I always have to complicate it?"
Wear Pants - You should read this book if you think the cover of this book is cool, or wear pants. Because, hey, the cover is cool. So are you, and so is this book. (Who says you can't judge a book by it's cover? Pshaw.)
Critique: Annalisa Parent, a featured speaker at the Writer's Digest Annual Conference, presents Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline, an excellent guide to improvisational or inspiration-driven writing. Chapters are filled with unorthodox tips, tricks, and techniques to tap into one's creativity, muster confidence, balance elements of storycrafting, and much more. Highly recommended for aspiring and practicing writers everywhere! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Storytelling for Pantsers is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Cookbook Shelf
The Bloke's Guide to Brilliant Cooking
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781479734610, $46.72, PB, 118pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Bloke's Guide To Brilliant Cooking: And How to Impress Women" and how to impress women is a humorous do it yourself guide to two of the most important things in any man's life, the love of great food and impressing women.
Originally a university writing assignment, Jim O'Connor's "The Bloke's Guide to Brilliant Cooking" will show even the most clueless male just how to culinarily impress the ladies like a chef by thinking the way a Bloke naturally thinks; like a guy!
Brilliant cooking is what happens when the instincts, imagination, and the head get together on the same plate and tell the hands what to do in the kitchen. If a guy wants to learn how to cook brilliant meals using the knowledge, imagination and instincts you already have whilst simultaneously learning how to impress women in their life, then they need a copy of "The Bloke's Guide to Brilliant Cooking" to plan menus with.
Critique: It's no overstatement to recognize that this profusely and beautifully illustrated culinary manual, "The Bloke's Guide To Brilliant Cooking: And How to Impress Women" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to any and all personal, community, and college cookbook collections.
The Education Shelf
The Student's Comprehensive Guide For College & Other Life Lessons
Valarie R. Austin
Vauboix Publishing LLC
9781732509610, $14.99, PB, 324pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Student's Comprehensive Guide for College & Other Life Lessons: "What to Expect & How to Succeed" was written by Valarie R. Austin specifically and especially for anyone who is unsure if college is for them, who wonder if they are prepared for college, who need to know when and how they should start saving for college, are confused about which college to attend, and how to choose a major which best fits their interests.
Austin also shares her relevant and applicable knowledge drawn from attending, graduating, and acquiring four college degrees from four different schools. She gives tough practical advice to guide high school, college-bound and current college students about the discipline, skills, and knowledge necessary to successfully graduate on time. "The Student's Comprehensive Guide For College & Other Life Lesson" is a comprehensive study aid and college guide that students will read before college, read while in college, and pass along to friends and family who may attend college later.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, The Student's Comprehensive Guide for College & Other Life Lessons: "What to Expect & How to Succeed" is impressively informative and 'real world practical', making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to family, high school, community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Student's Comprehensive Guide for College & Other Life Lessons: "What to Expect & How to Succeed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Business Shelf
The Unconventional Thinking of Dominant Companies
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781719211789, $14.99, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In today's fiercely competitive business world, dominant companies think differently. They center everything they do around maximizing their customer's experience and engineer backwards to ensure their customers are saving time, effort, and money.
There is a mathematical formula called the Hassle Quotient that dominant companies use to ensure they maintain their status and never rest on their laurels.
The old rules don't apply and it's not easy to dominate, but companies that do have common traits.
In "The Unconventional Thinking of Dominant Companies: The New Formula for Market Dominance", by Jim Bramlett (who is a logistics industry veteran with over 40 years of experience leading companies and specializing in the development of new products and services) shows how to take advantage of these traits and how to measure success on the way to becoming truly dominant.
Critique: An invaluable and thoroughly accessible read from first page to last, "The Unconventional Thinking of Dominant Companies: The New Formula for Market Dominance" is an extraordinary and instructive book that should be on the 'must read' list of every corporate executive, entrepreneur, and governmental economics policy maker. While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collection, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Unconventional Thinking of Dominant Companies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Fiction Shelf
Thread for Pearls
Elfenworks Productions, LLC
9780999707104 $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Thread for Pearls is an original novel. A near-death experience in a car with her Mother; running from tear gas at a Vietnam War rally hand-in-hand with her Pop; a year in India learning side-by-side the country's 'untouchables;' the highs and lows of living on a rural Pennsylvania commune...and all before Fiona Sprechelbach's thirteenth birthday.
Set during one of the most politically divisive eras in American history, Thread for Pearls is a coming of age tale that takes us on a young heroine's journey to faith and freedom amidst a turbulent family dynamic. It's a story of resilient hope that questions whether it's the events of our lives that define us, or the thread on which we choose to string them.
Critique: Captivating from cover to cover, Thread for Pearls is a multifaceted saga of a young woman's complex adolescence in the 60's and 70's. From bomb scares to "be-ins", ashrams, acid trips, and more, Thread for Pearls evokes the highs and lows of an era, as seen through the eyes of a woman in the midst of history's changes. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Thread for Pearls is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99) and as an Audible audiobook.
The Secret Life of Mrs. London
Lake Union Publishing
9781542048736, $14.95, PB, 348pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: San Francisco 1915 finds America teeters on the brink of entering World War II, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness.
Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn't see it that way -- until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian's eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.
As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack's increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history's most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.
Critique: An impressively original and exceptionally well crafted novel by an author who is a master of character and narrative driven storytelling, Rebecca Rosenberg's "The Secret Life of Mrs. London" is an inherently riveting and thoroughly reader engaging story from beginning to end and featuring many an unexpected plot twist and turn. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Secret Life of Mrs. London" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978624474, $14.99, MP3 CD).
Whiskey Jelly Blues
Justin J. Murphy
Owl Canyon Press
9780998507347, $24.95, PB, 472pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Whiskey Jelly Blues", novelist Justin J. Murphy deftly explores the complexities of early thirty-something modern life and modern love, marriage, abortion, rock and roll, booze, bartending, art, and artisan pastries.
The story follows Cassidy, a half-assed Choose Your Own Adventure erotica novelist and part-time bartender; His wife, Phoenix, a copywriter for a PR company -- biggest client: Rudy's Candy Tampons; and Aunika, Cassidy's childhood best friend, a remarkable blonde, legs like pure suck, a successful donut shop owner and the reason Cassidy and Phoenix may or may not divorce and may or may not end up owning their own donut shop, one that cranks out the finest whiskey-jelly filled bear claws -- getting bombed on donuts is awesome, no doubt.
"Whiskey Jelly Blues" is about the fleeting moments of a wandering generation, The West vs The East, hope and regret, mistakes and forgiveness, all set to a psychedelic blues soundtrack. It's about roses without a scent, life without purpose, life with and without love, mental and literary experimentation, edible marijuana, a perfect tear in your wife's eye, the one that reflects everything, including yourself.
Critique: Original, compelling, entertaining, thoughtful and though-provoking, "Whiskey Jelly Blues" by novelist Justin J. Murphy will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Whiskey Jelly Blues" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Siren and The Specter
Flame Tree Press
9781787580077, $24.95, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in "the most haunted house in Virginia", he believes the case will be like any other.
But the Alexander House is different. Built by a 1700s land baron to contain the madness and depravity of his eldest son, the house is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed.
David is haunted, as well. For twenty-two years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. And David suspects she's followed him to the Alexander House!
Critique: A deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality, "The Siren and The Specter" is an entertainingly rewarding read that will hold the reader's complete attention from beginning to end. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Siren and The Specter" is also available in a paperback edition (9781787580053, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.49).
New Generation Publishing
9781926635163, $17.00, PB, 354pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Frank Walsh is twelve years old when he enters a Roman Catholic seminary to fulfil his dream of becoming a priest. At twenty-one, having lost his faith, he makes an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide, leaves the seminary and returns home.
With the help of Sally, the girl next door, he slowly manages to recover from depression and starts to feel 'normal' again, especially sexually. After finishing university, he leaves home (and Sally) to live in London. There he tries to escape the ghosts of his past and fulfil his dream of being a writer.
He then meets Marina, a vibrant young Yugoslav girl, with whom he has an intense love affair. They plan to marry, but a chance meeting with a ghost from the past threatens to destroy this dream too.
Yet Frank refuses to be beaten, because he still has one dream left!
Critique: An impressive and skillfully crafted novel by an author with an equally impressive flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling, Eugene Vesey's "Ghosters" is an inherently compelling read from beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ghosters" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
Silhouette of the Sun
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781484116791, $11.99, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Silhouette of the Sun" by Avery Davis is deftly scripted story of three strong and determined women, weathering love and loss in the pursuit of independence.
Constance is an entomologist and single mother providing for her Anna at a time when providing was prominently done by men. Anna is an artist who must choose between cancer treatment or completing her pregnancy. Paige is Anna's daughter who is guided in her dreams to fulfil her potential of curing cancer by listening to the whisperings of her mother and grandmother.
Drew is the man who ties them all together.
Critique: A compelling novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the creation of memorable characters embedded in an inherently engaging, narrative driven story, Avery Davis' "Silhouette of the Sun" is very highly recommended and certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Silhouette of the Sun" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle
Susan Wittig Albert
PO Box 1616, Bertram, TX 78605
9780996904070 $25.95 hc / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: It's Christmas, 1934, and the citizens of Darling, Alabama, are unwrapping a big package of Christmas puzzles. Mildred and Earlynne, members of the Dahlias Garden Club, are planning to open a bakery on the square - if they can come up with the right recipes. Charlie Dickens faces two of the biggest puzzles of his career as an investigative reporter, and one of them involves his wife. Cute little Cupcake's talent as a singer and dancer makes her a tempting target for an unscrupulous exploiter. Lizzy must enlist the Dahlias to protect her, while she herself is confronted by a romantic puzzle. And Sheriff Norris is forced to reopen a mystery that the town thought was solved and follow a string of clues that lead to a deadly situation at the nearby prison farm.
Once again, Susan Wittig Albert takes us to a place where real people have courage, respect for their neighbors, and the dream of doing their best, even when they're not sure what that is. She reminds us that Christmas is a celebration of friendship, community, and what's right with the world. There's nothing puzzling about that.
Critique: Part of the "Darling Dahlias" mystery series, The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle is a savory read featuring strong-willed, intelligent women and a deadly conundrum. Set in the 1930's during Christmastime, Darling Dahlias is a captivating cocktail of intrigue and ingenuity, highly recommended for historical mystery connoisseurs. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Meghan Scott Molin
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781503904187, $24.95, HC, 297pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: MG Martin lives and breathes geek culture. She even works as a writer for the comic book company she idolized as a kid. But despite her love of hooded vigilantes, MG prefers her comics stay on the page.
But when someone in LA starts recreating crime scenes from her favorite comic book, MG is the LAPD's best (and only) lead. She recognizes the golden arrow left at the scene as the calling card of her favorite comic book hero. The thing is -- superheroes aren't real. Are they?
When too-handsome-for-his-own-good Detective Kildaire asks for her comic book expertise, MG is more than up for the adventure. Unfortunately, MG has a teeny little tendency to not follow rules. And her off-the-books sleuthing may land her in a world of trouble.
Because for every superhero, there is a supervillain. And the villain of her story may be closer than she thinks!
Critique: An inherently riveting and wonderfully entertaining novel by a master of the genre, Meghan Scott Molin's "The Frame-Up" is an impressively crafted mystery by an author with a genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "The Frame-Up" is also available in a paperback edition (9781503904194, $14.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978623378, $14.99, MP3 CD).
A Change of Faith
9781717911797, $9.95, PB, 219pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As the Catholic Church finds itself losing parishioners and it's revenue stream dwindles, Pope Peter Paul makes a decision to allow women to enter the seminaries and become priests. To the displeasure of many Cardinals in Rome, the women becoming priests are mysteriously being murdered. Vicar Charlotte Kotlinski is the only surviving female priest. Pope Peter Paul finds his own life in danger as there are those that want him replaced for other religious reasons.
Critique: A simply riveting novel from beginning to end, "A Change of Faith" reveals author Roger Kazanowski's genuine flair for originality and deftly crafted storytelling. The result is a kind of near future 'alternative history' backdrop that is an inherently compelling and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "A Change of Faith" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
9780983506737, $16.00, PB, 323pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Kenna Ward is an envoy for a virtual reality company whose implants create a thrilling world that allows people to create daring scenarios in a safe environment. Most of the time, that is. When in the rare instance the human brain mistakes the terrifying event as real, it's up to Ward to enter the scenario and pull them back to reality. But when a key envoy goes rogue and people begin responding in odd and dangerous ways, Ward delves deeper, finding a sinister conspiracy to take over not only the virtual reality world, but the real one as well. Ward must stop it before there are no longer any independent minds left to control.
Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently compelling novel by an author with an impressive flair for originality, "Virtual Sabotage" is an extraordinary thriller of a read from novelist Julie Hyzy. Given the rapidly developing virtual reality technology, "Virtual Sabotage" is a riveting suspense story that will hold the fascinated reader's full attention from beginning to end, making it an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Virtual Sabotage" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480860841, $39.95, HC, 374pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sun Wren Richards, divorced mother of two adult children, is seeking adventure. Knowing her life lacks goals and her restless soul needs new challenges, Sun travels from Texas to Costa Rica to live for six weeks in a friend's rental house. But little does she know what awaits her in the tiny tropical country known for its mountains, beaches and jungle.
After she is greeted at the airport by Pablo Meza and his daughter, Mercedes, Sun settles into the mountain home located above the town of Heredia and begins exploring the country with Mercedes. When Sun decides to settle in Costa Rica permanently, she buys a house with help from Mercedes who serves as her agent. But it is not long before Sun realizes that all is not how it seems. As a chain of unanticipated events unfolds and reveals corruption, crime, and scams, Suns quest for answers leads her on a dangerous journey from Costa Rica across the Nicaraguan border and back to Texas where she hopes the truth awaits.
In this suspense-filled tale, a middle-aged American woman seeking adventure finds excitement of a different kind after she decides to set down roots in Costa Rica.
Critique: A riveting thriller of a read from beginning to end, "Natural Law" is an original and compelling novel that showcases author Wren Richards' natural gift for deftly narrated storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Natural Law" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480860865, $22.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.84).
Lt. Col. John Witzel, Ret.
9780991102938, $15.95, PB, 308pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Do you hear me, Rob? We know who killed your wife and daughters and where they are."
Rob Madden, still holding the cell phone in his shaking hands, tried to grasp what DEA Special Agent Bonnie McCord had just said. Three years ago, his wife and two young daughters were brutally murdered by terrorists as payback for his Special Ops drone strikes on al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen.
For Madden, the call halted his plan to complete his doctorate in education and triggered a clandestine mission back to the dusty and dangerous oil fields of Yemen for revenge courtesy of the US Air Force.
"Saving Vengeance" is the riveting story of an unlikely Special Forces team as it navigates treacherous encounters and high-risk maneuvers to find and punish the killers.
Critique: One thriller of a novel with more plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, "Saving Vengeance" showcases author John Witzel's impressive flair for narrative driven storytelling, making it an unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections and personal reading lists.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
18 Wheels of Science Fiction
Loaded, driven, and edited by Eric Miller
Big Time Books
9780990686682 $14.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Take a trip through the imaginations of 18 visionary writers as they explore the future of trucking in this new science fiction anthology! There's something for every genre fiction fan in this follow-up to the hit "18 Wheels of Horror - a Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors."
An alien fuel additive shows just how fast a big rig can go... A disembodied driver wages war on self-driving trucks... A haul through time takes an unexpected turn... Reality shatters for a trucker using an experimental delivery device... Stargazing gives an overweight driver a new lease on life... A young girl risks her life to hitch a ride out of an apocalyptic wasteland...
The highways of the universe will never be the same!
Critique: Edited by movie author and commercial driver Eric Miller, 18 Wheels of Science Fiction is an anthology of out-of-this-world short stories, with a common theme of trucks and trucking. Each story is by a different author, offering their own unique vision for trucking in the future, from time travel truckin' to supernatural vs. self-driving. 18 Wheels of Science Fiction is 75 MPH of free-wheeling fun from cover to cover! Also highly recommended for truck-story connoisseurs is "18 Wheels of Horror - a Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors." It should be noted for personal reading lists that 18 Wheels of Science Fiction is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
Ten Thousand Thunders
Flame Tree Press
9781787580183, $24.95, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Having just been killed in a mysterious shuttle explosion, Gethin Bryce is back to uncover what happened.
An unusually gifted investigator with the InterPlanetary Council, Gethin is tasked with seeking out the truth behind unexplained anomalies that lie outside IPC control. His investigation takes him from the luxurious enclaves of Earth's elite, to the battered Wastelands beyond civilization's protective thrall.
Linking up with an inquiry team from a planet-spanning corporate powerhouse, he also befriends a grim and reluctant outlander who has an important piece of the puzzle -- evidence of a sadistic entity which threatens not just civilization, but all life.
Critique: An inherently riveting, deftly crafted and simply compelling read from beginning to end by a master of the science fiction genre, Brian Trent's "Ten Thousand Thunders" is an original and very highly recommended addition to personal and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. Of special note for all dedicated science fiction fans is that "Ten Thousand Thunders" is also available in a paperback edition (9781787580169, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
Willow of Ashes
Scynthefy Press, LLC
9781732041530, $29.95, HC, 398pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As a young necromancer with magic to control souls of the dead, Xavier wasn't expecting his future as a knighted Reaper to be stolen from him. He wasn't expecting his engagement with Willow Ember, the Princess of Death, to be broken after an assassin threw him off a cliff into the Ocean realm. And he damn well wasn't expecting his soul to be ripped out--and end up inside his twin brother.
With his body lost and his only connection to the living through his brother, all that's left of Xavier is his soul. But at least living half a life is better than being fully dead, even if he has to keep his coexistence a secret from the woman he loves.
However, one Reaper refused to believe Xavier was dead. She leaves her home deep in the caverns of Grim and sneaks up to the surface realm alone to find him, battling for survival in a demon and dragon infested foreign land. Unbeknown to her, the coexisting twins embark on their own dangerous journey to search for Xavier's body on the opposite side of the continent.
As these Knights of the Death realm fight their way across the Everland continent, facing an army of soul-eating undead creatures led by an ancient demon queen, they discover there may be more to Xavier's disappearance than meets the eye. -- Now there's more than one soul to save!
Critique: A brilliantly scripted and entertainingly original fantasy saga, "Willow of Ashes" is the first volume in author Ellie Raine's epic new 'Necroseam Chronicles' series. A riveting read from beginning to end, "Willow of Ashes" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy action/adventure fans that "Willow of Ashes" is also available in a paperback edition (9781732041561, $15.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Architect's Key
Edward E. Evans
9781983038228, $8.99, PB, 274pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Leo Katsaros is an ambitious architect who goes on a series of trips to the past on a quest to learn from history's great master builders. Instead, he finds himself enmeshed in a messy family dispute between two Greek Gods.
In 1927 the Greek gods were still among us, living on after the Olympian diaspora, and the wisest Goddess of them is building a Utopian community on the Southern California coast. And, incidentally, the goddess of Wealth, Wisdom and Weaving is also a time traveler -- something Leo discovers to his cost.
Critique: An impressively original and thoroughly entertaining work of fantasy fiction by novelist Edward E. Evans, "The Architect's Key" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "The Architect's Key" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Infinity of Roads
Robert Omeljanivk, Publisher
9781942392101, $14.95, PB, 430pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The universe winds down to its end, but all is far from silent. Around Murder, one of the last stars, sisters of divine birth wage a pitiless war.
Few can escape the all-consuming conflict that fills the very sky with fire. But this is not the only struggle of mortals and the divine. Above all known realities, two immortal heroes embark across the cosmic Lattice on a desperate quest to save a fading world.
On the fabled Seven Worlds, a man made, not born, searches for his birth and his death. Amid the endless world of the Shell, a lone voice seeks to question her fate.
And in places that once were the dreams of machines, a lost spirit is reborn.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, deftly crafted, impressively original, and consistently entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Infinity Roads" is the third volume of Robert Gryn's 'Suns of the End' science fiction series. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "The Infinity Roads" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
C. S. Coy
Austin Macauley Publishers
9781641823067, $25.95, HC, 198pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Unexpected" by C. S. Coy takes place in the year 2025, when an invasion of alien creatures called Instinctive Outside Beings (IOBs) have taken over the world. With the world nearly destroyed, Clay Treston is a man who finds himself struggling in a nightmare reality.
Tortured and beaten from the impact of the IOBs, Clay continues to fight and protect a city full of survivors in order to hang onto a past that holds him together. But when suspicious events begin to appear, he soon learns a bigger plot beginning to unfold around him as he tries to hold himself together in his struggle.
On the verge of losing himself and the city, Clay is forced to not only learn what his true path is in the world, but to put aside his feelings in order to finally see a new reality before him.
Critique: An inherently engaging, impressively original, and exceptionally well written novel, "The Unexpected" by C. S. Coy is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "The Unexpected" is also available in a paperback edition (9781641823050, $12.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Biography Shelf
One Maestro's Journey
Heinrich Hammer, author
Melinda Monaghan, creator
Still Life Enterprises
9780692051504, $19.95, PB, 346pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Shot by a cannon as a child, Heinrich Hammer's nearly century-long life (1862-1951) was anything but typical right from the outset. Beginning with his often troubled childhood in Germany, he had to fight from a young age with a recalcitrant uncle (his guardian) to pursue his musical goals academically. Once an adult though, his path brightened and, over the years, he encountered a seemingly endless parade of noteworthy composers, musicians, painters, and nobility - he even witnessed the infamous Wright Brothers testing their new flying machine as well as other historic "firsts" along the way.
The reader is introduced to these illustrious individuals via detailed sidebars in chronicling the journey of Maestro Hammer as he traverses two continents, multiple countries, and numerous orchestras, providing a truly unique window into a bygone era. Following a key early study period in Paris, his music-related travels throughout Europe included his founding of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, still going strong today. He also conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, with royalty in attendance at his concerts on various occasions. Migrating across the ocean to America, he performed for President Taft, resurrected and led the Washington Symphony Orchestra in the nation's capital, and became a U.S. citizen, to his extreme delight.
After relocating to Southern California, he conducted the L.A. Philharmonic, and had a life in Hollywood which intersected with the Golden Age of film -- followed by a decided change in his fortunes during WWII.
Although he was passionate about his musical pursuits right up to the end of his days, he also had a host of other interests and was remarkably accomplished at almost everything he set his hand to from hunting, to farming, to construction. For a house he built single-handedly, he ingeniously "bought lumber which was used to build the stands for President (Woodrow) Wilson's inaugural parade."
In reading this remarkable memoir, penned by him at age 90 (in 1952), the reader will meet the gifted Maestro Heinrich Hammer, an acclaimed musician who could play every instrument in an orchestra, composed 9 symphonies, and spoke 7 languages. The kaleidoscope of his long life was filled with unexpected twists, turns, and arduous struggles throughout.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and surprisingly detailed memoir, "One Maestro's Journey: A Celebrated Life of Music & Ingenuity" is an extraordinary account that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library American Biography and American Music History collections.
A Surgeon's Odyssey
Richard Moss, MD
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480859517, $32.71, HC, 386pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Richard Moss is an Otolaryngologist-Head and Neck Surgeon in private practice in Jasper, Indiana since 1991. He is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine and was board certified in 1986. He is also a columnist, businessman, and local investor. Between 1987-1990, Dr. Moss traveled extensively through Asia while working as a cancer surgeon in four different countries including Thailand, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
While his work in Asia was voluntary, his 'real world' compensation was in the rich, fascinating, and, often bizarre experiences he had both as a surgeon and wanderer.
Based on this three-year excursion, "A Surgeon's Odyssey" delves into the true-to-life adventures, struggles, and quandaries of a young surgeon from humble beginnings who found himself in a strange and tragic but beautiful world, striving to save those suffering from horrifying disease under hellish circumstances. In this memoir, Dr. Moss shares his story that includes insights into life, other cultures and religions, and the tragedy of intolerable disease amidst destitution and scarcity.
Essentially, "A Surgeon's Odyssey" tells of a young man's decision to forgo comfort and financial security for the adventure of a lifetime, pitting himself against the specter of overwhelming suffering and illness. It narrates the unique journey of a cancer surgeon who, against conventional wisdom, embarked on a pilgrimage of healing and experienced surgical triumphs and setbacks amidst some of the most beguiling and fascinating cultures in the world.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "A Surgeon's Odyssey" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Surgeon's Odyssey" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480859524, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Driven: A Daughter's Odyssey
9780692172483, $17.99, PB, 440pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the mid-20th century, the Heldmans were tennis royalty. Julie was a volatile and gutsy tennis star, twice ranked number 5 in the world. Her mother Gladys was broadly admired for her unique magazine, World Tennis, and for engineering the women's tennis revolution.
No one guessed that Gladys's hidden emotional abuse was the source of Julie's powerful drive.
Driven is a highly readable insider's account of a pivotal time in women's tennis history; an in-depth look at Gladys's complex character; and the revealing story of Julie's interior journey, both on and off the court.
Critique: Impressively candid, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Driven: A Daughter's Odyssey" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in tennis history in general, and the Heldman family in particular that "Driven: A Daughter's Odyssey" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Finding Peace in the Holy Land
Kube Publishing Ltd
9781847741219, $26.95, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The daughter of a Jewish model and troubled TV star Lauren Booth survived a house fire, lived through the excesses of the nineties as an aspiring actress, welcomed 'our' Tony Blair into her family, put her life as a parent at risk to report on Palestine, twice, found faith in a mosque in Iran - unsure before she entered whether they would be slaughtering goats or screaming with rage - and then as a new Muslim sobered up, started praying and became a hajji.
"Finding Peace in the Holy Land: A British Muslim Memoir" is part true life adventure, and part spiritual awakening. Lauren's memoir is an inspirational journey through politics, the press, parenthood and the importance of meaning in a broken world, full of injustice and lacking in faith.
Wryly written, with her British humor striking throughout, what her story also shows is the evolving relationship between culture and religion, and how to embrace the past whilst praying for a better future.
Critique: An absolutely fascinating read from beginning to end, "Finding Peace in the Holy Land: A British Muslim Memoir" is an extraordinary story and a welcome contribution to our current national dialogue regarding Muslim beliefs and compatibility with western cultural values. A deftly written and impressively detailed account, "Finding Peace in the Holy Land" is an especially recommended addition to community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections in general, and Islamic Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Finding Peace in the Holy Land" is also available in a paperback edition (9781847741202, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.55).
The Self-Help Shelf
The Awakened Ape
9781520442549, $12.95, PB, 289pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "The Awakened Ape: A Biohacker's Guide To Evolutionary Fitness, Natural Ecstasy, and Stress-Free Living", author Jevan Pradas uses evolutionary psychology to hack the human mind and body to answer the question: "How can we enjoy life to the fullest?" The results, while unexpected, are completely backed by science.
Perpetually bored, anxious, fatigued and overweight, modern society has failed to deliver the happiness it promised. The remedy, Jevan argues, is in a unique synthesis of a Paleolithic lifestyle and Buddhist meditation.
A sprawling journey, featuring Jevan's adventures with naked Amazonian tribes and retreats with enlightened monks to learn the secrets of optimal well-being, "The Awakened Ape" teaches how to achieve deep states of bliss. All while shaping our bodies into the fit and healthy animal millions of years of evolution programmed you to be.
"The Awakened Ape" shows: How to meditate -- from instructions for the absolute beginner to techniques for deep states of ecstasy and awakening; How to eat the optimally healthy diet for both physical and mental health; How to train the attention span so you can be focused and efficient all day long; How to exercise so that is fun, enjoyable, and something you look forward to; How to get rid of the habit of negative thinking in just one week; How to live like a caveman in the modern world in order to get the most out of your genetics; How to properly go to the bathroom; and so much, more!
Critique: Impressively informative, occasionally iconoclastic, exceptionally well written, remarkably accessible in organization and presentation, "The Awakened Ape: A Biohacker's Guide To Evolutionary Fitness, Natural Ecstasy, and Stress-Free Living" is an extraordinary and life enhancing read from beginning to end. While an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Awakened Ape" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) and as a digital audio download from Tantor Media ($19.99).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Restore Your Rest
Shab R. Krish
Advantage Media Group
9781599328836, $14.99, PB, 122pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Most people don't think it's a health issue when they are still tired after eight hours of sleep. Many more don't believe that snoring is unnatural and signifies an underlying health issue. Millions of Americans suffer from sleep disorders, with many more not even knowing they are a victim of it.
Shab Krish, DDS, MS, DABCP, DABCDSM, is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life. After learning how to relieve her own pain and improve her sleep, Dr. Krish decided to devote all of her time to exclusively treating temporomandibular disorder, craniofacial pain, and sleep disorders by establishing the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of North Texas.
In "Restore Your Rest: Solutions for TMJ and Sleep Disorders", Dr. Shab Krish draws upon her years of experience and expertise to help improve our health by providing a roadmap to better sleep. In "Restore Your Rest", Dr. Krish reveals: How one health issue could be the source for many others; The relationship between TMJ and sleep disorders; Diets and nutrition for overall wellness; Treatments to improve your quality of life.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented for the benefit of the non-specialist general reader experiencing excessive daytime tiredness despite maintaining a disciplined sleep schedule, "Restore Your Rest: Solutions for TMJ and Sleep Disorders" is an extraordinary, life enhancing read. Whether dealing with the medical condition of sleep apnea or any other form of sleep disorder, "Restore Your Rest" can make a transformative world of difference in personal health and well being -- making it an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, sleep clinic, community, college, and university library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Sleep Disorder supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Break Out of... Breaking Even!
Julio A. Salado NSCA-CPT
9780999320303 $14.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: "One of my goals in writing this book is to give you practical information that can be used today! I will give simple insights into the science of weight loss without delving into unnecessary academic terms." - Julio Salado, NSCA-C.P.T.
BREAK out of breaking even is the first book to address the phenomenon of "breaking even"!
"Breaking even" is when you invest time in exercising and eating healthy but not seeing results, especially long term.
You will develop skills and self awareness for long term weight loss management. The program is designed to be sustainable, flexible, and customized to fit your lifestyle and goals!
The proven methods in this book can be used by fitness professionals and anyone wanting to lose 5 pounds to 150 pounds!
You will no longer lose or gain weight without knowing why and learning how to overcome it!
Julio Salado, a native of Boston, MA., is the founder of Fitnessfoundry.net, a leading online resource for health and wellness. For over a decade, Mr. Salado has guided countless individuals from all levels of fitness to achieve their body sculpting and personal training goals. His unique blend of western exercise science and holistic arts has been featured in numerous TV shows, in print, and online. Mr. Salado also is an educator and continuing education provider.
Critique: Break Out of... Breaking Even! 3-Step Method for Proven Long-Term Weight Loss is a weight loss guide created to put field-tested, scientific principles into everyday practice. Thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Break Out of... Breaking Even! guides the reader to planning their meals and their workouts, organizing a balanced diet as well as a fitness practice that takes advantage of both resistance and cardio training. The goal is lose weight at a gradual, sustainable pace and keep it off. A wealth of tools to aid the reader in this goal including a bodysculpting reference sheet, a bodysculpting tracker, and more round out this "must-have" for the health-conscious. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Break Out of... Breaking Even is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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